The Anatomy of a Reed

The musical performance of clarinet reeds made from Arundo Donax stems was assessed by two experienced clarinetists, and the anatomy of the reeds was studied using confocal laser scanning microscopy to determine the relationship between anatomical characteristics and musical performance. Statistically significant differences between musically good and poor reeds were found in the anatomy of the cortical vascular bundles. Good musical performance was associated with reeds with a high proportion of vascular bundles with continuous fiber rings, and bundles with a high proportion of fiber and a low proportion of xylem and phloem. Significant differences in these anatomical characteristics were also found between reeds originating from cultivated plantation plants when compared to reeds produced from agricultural windbreak plants.

1998 Annals of Botany