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What the heck is Eddie Harris talking about?

1935 Views 9 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  SchlockRod
I can't call him up and ask him, so I'll ask you guys:
I've got his book The Intervallic Concept, and I been practicing from it lately. It's a pretty good and challenging book by the way.
Today for some reason I thumbed through the first pages... It had been a while. In there, he says:
"... the thinner the reed the more mouthpiece you take into your mouth. The thicker the reed the less mouthpiece you take into your mouth."
Huh? Anybody have a clue? Why it might mean (just pondering):
1. Does he mean strength?... thinner = softer, etc.? I doubt it. That just doesn't make sense unless you're biting down to close the tip on a too hard reed (or too open mouthpiece), which is just wrong.
2. Do he mean, say... soprano reed is way thinner than a baritone reed... I highly doubt that, unless he meant "relatively speaking", which still doesn't make much sense.
3. Is he talking about the cut of the reed? If so, does he mean the tip? The vamp as a whole? (pretty hard to assign a thickness to, since reeds with thick tips are often thinner further back than, say a Vandoren Blue Box)
4. Is he talking about the blank thickness?

I've never heard anything like this before. Thanks in advance for any insight, even though I'll probably do what I've been doing, which is do it by listening/feeling as I blow and produce a tone... feedback, ear to mouth, in a sense.

By the way, I'd say that whatever he meant, facing length, and your mouth and way of blowing do make some difference. But he doesn't mention any of that.
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It is a commonly held thought that harder reeds are thicker. In fact, within a brand/model, all the strengths are the same thickness because they are cut on the same machinery. The different strengths are the result of variations in the cane, and each finished reed is gauged to determine what strength it is. This is why they typically can play so differently out of the same box, because of the spread within the grade. Obviously if he was talking about different brands/models, the reeds actually could be thicker or thinner in the critical tip area. However, I don't know if any of this has any effect on how much mouthpiece one takes. If he was serious about it, it could just be something that he learned to do that helped him in his style/sound.
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