RE: Comb Material [revisited]

>> Gee, how rude of me to ask for some actual, factual proof.
>Well, what would you call it when you tell someone that what they heard
>themselves is somehow not valid, and then demanded that they prove it
>you?  Sorry, but that's rude in my book.

I see the sun rise in the East and set in the West everyday.  My senses
tell me that the sun thus moves across the sky.  I do not notice that
the Earth moves in any way shape or form--it seems perfectly stationary
to me.  Thus, I conclude that the Earth is stationary and the sun moves
around it.

The point?  I'm not arguing that Vince and the others didn't hear a
difference in sound.  I'm sure that they did.  I'm arguing that the
conclusions which they are drawing from their perceptions are not the
same as a proven fact.  Thus the need for controlled experiments which
limit variables.  I'm truly amazed that people have trouble
understanding this. 

The claim is that the only difference between the harmonicas was the
comb material.  So I'll ask a series of questions: were the same
reed-plates used on each comb?  Were the same cover-plates used on each
comb?  Not similar, but the exact same ones.  Anything else allows for
other factors to come into play: intonation, set-up, airtightness,
etc...  Next, did the player know which comb was which?  If so, it is
highly possible that the player, though not trying to do so, altered the
manner in which they played the combs.  These are all valid questions to
ask.  I'm not saying that Vince didn't hear a difference, just pointing
out that what difference he heard can have many other explanations that
are at least as plausible as comb material.  

So, until someone attempts to undertake a series of tests which limit
the variables down to one (comb material) and which can be repeated with
the same results each time then the following statement is an opinion
and not a fact: "harmonicas with different comb materials (and no other
differences) sound different".  That's all I'm saying, this is not
something that has been proven--it is not a fact, the way that the
following statement is a fact: "Snuffy is a Cocker Spaniel".

As for the "test" of the Bluesharp and Lee Oskar in different keys,
using different reed materials, reed dimensions and tuning methods for
the reeds, different cover-plate shapes, cover plate materials,
different comb shapes and dimensions--do I really need to point out that
comb material is not the only factor which could explain a difference in
sound?  I'll grant that the Bluesharp and the Lee Oskar sound different.
But I think any of the above is at least as plausible an explanation for
that difference as comb material.

I also agree that if a player thinks that comb material makes a
difference in the sound of the harmonica, that will likely effect the
way that they play and thus the sound of the harmonica.  A quick search
of the archives will show that I have never questioned the importance of
the psychological aspect of this debate--indeed, I have been the one who
has brought it up as important on more than one occasion.

BTW, I'd suggest not using the "someone proved that bumblebees can't
fly" analogy, even if it is true that someone "proved" such (of which I
am not sure), it is not a good example of scientific study for one
reason: bumblebees do fly.  Thus, if the current scientific theories on
flight cannot explain how this is possible, the theories must be
incorrect or incomplete.  The solution?  Study the bumblebee and see how
it does in fact fly, hypothesize as to what laws may govern this and
then test to see if the hypothesis works.  Moreover, it has absolutely
NOTHING whatsoever to do with this thread or anything I have proposed.
I have not said anywhere that comb material does not have an effect on
sound.  Rather, I have said that current tests have not so indicated and
that more tests are needed to find out if in fact this is the case.  

The problem is that some people are only happy if everyone else agrees
with them before discussing the subject.  It seems that unless I accept
that comb material does make a difference in sound as a proven fact
anything I say with regards to asking for more (or any) evidence of such
is an attack on those who believe that comb material does make a

I'll try to refrain from posting any more in this thread.  Actually,
I'll just leave, as it's obvious that harp-l is no longer a place where
a logical debate can be held without name calling.

So, good-bye.  It was fun for a while.  Good luck.

 ()()   JR "Bulldogge" Ross
()  ()  & Snuffy, too:)

This archive was generated by a fusion of Pipermail 0.09 (Mailman edition) and MHonArc 2.6.8.