Dalbergia Melanoxylon

I’m a sophomore clarinet performance major in Steinhardt. I was introduced to the clarinet at the age of 9. Since then I have been always curious about the tree that was cut off to make clarinets and plants that was cut off to make reeds. I have two parts for this project; the first part of the project is to research about wood that is made for clarinets and this plant made for the reeds and the second part of the project is to compose a piece of music using the sound of nature.


The tree that is made for the clarinets and oboes are called Dalbergia Melanoxylon, also called African Blackwood, or Mpingo. It is one of the top 10 endangered tree species. The Mpingo is also very slow growing, taking between 70-200 years to grow to a mature size and many only grow to be able 9 feet tall.

The Mpingo Conservation & Development Initiative aims to conserve endangered forest habitats in East Africa by promoting sustainable and socially equitable harvesting of valuable timber stocks and other forest products, and with a particular focus on Mpingo – the African Blackwood tree – which is used to make clarinets and oboes.

The plant that is made for woodwinds’ cane reeds are called Arundo Donax. However, recently a lot of musicians are switching from cane reeds to synthetic (plastic) reeds. The reason for this is because the weather affects how the cane reeds are played – causing them to be inconsistent and be different everyday. Most musicians go through about 100 to 200 cane reeds per year. It would be traumatic for the environment if a lot of musicians start using synthetic reeds.

The second part of the project I will be talking about some famous composers who are influenced by nature: Beethoven, Respighi, Saint-Saëns, Wood, and etc.


There is a non-profit organization based in New York, a lot of composers and environmentalist are in it. I will be making a composition using nature sound and instrumental sound.