Seattle Inventor Finds Key to Solving Saxophone Discord

Discussion in 'General Acoustics Discussion' started by Gandalfe, Jun 5, 2013.

  1. Gandalfe

    Gandalfe Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    Brockman is the right man to solve the octave problem. He loves to tinker. “It really started for me when I was a 12 year old and my father and I took a saxophone apart and marked every little screw and piece and set it aside so we could clean it and oil it and put it back together. In the process I learned volumes about how the instrument works and why."

    Read more: http://kuow.org/post/seattle-inventor-finds-key-solving-saxophone-discord
     
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  2. Gandalfe

    Gandalfe Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    This monstrous creation had 12 octave vents instead of the usual two. When the instrument came alive in Dr. Brockman’s hands, this grotesque saxophone actually played in tune. He called it “The Frankensax.”
     
  3. SOTSDO

    SOTSDO Old King Log Staff Member CE/Moderator

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    Well, as sax, oboe and bass clarinet players all know, there are better approaches to the register problem than a single register vent. (For that matter, clarinet players would realize the same thing if they understood why they "half hole" above high C.) So, adding two, fifteen or thirty five register vents (so as to always locate the operative vent at exactly the right place) is an ideal approach.

    Now, keeping four, seventeen or thirty-seven register vents in perfect registration with the rest of the keywork...well, that may be a different story.
     
  4. SOTSDO

    SOTSDO Old King Log Staff Member CE/Moderator

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    I've just read up on the Brocktave key...

    ...and I don't think that we'll have to start worrying about it any time soon...
     
  5. jbtsax

    jbtsax Distinguished Member Distinguished Member

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    I respect his technical skill and ingenuity, but this is a solution looking for a problem. Saxophonists have been playing in tune for years without his contraption using a primitive device called "ears".
     
  6. kymarto

    kymarto Content Expert/Moderator Staff Member CE/Moderator

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    He did not need 12 vents. Three or four would me more than enough, if properly designed. And of course the bore profile is extremely important in octave alignment. This is at least half BS.
     
  7. Groovekiller

    Groovekiller Distinguished Member Distinguished Member

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    Larger instruments work best with more octave vents. Adolphe Sax seems to have discovered this when designing his bass clarinet, where he used 2 register vents instead of one, like on the soprano clarinet. The first ophicleide shaped bass sax had three octave vents. Sax then reverted to two octave vents on the next model, which resembled the modern baritone saxophone, and continued with 2 vents for all other size saxes.

    Benedikt Eppelsheim uses 3 automatic octave vents on his largest saxes, the Bb and Eb Tubaxes and the Eb contrabass saxophone. The triple octave mechanism uses the same mechanical principle as the Selmer mechanism, and it works reliably despite the addition of the extra key. The Eppelsheim horns also have a 4th altissimo vent that works independently of the other octave keys, and it has its own touchpiece.

    One of the automatic octave vents on large Eppelsheim saxes is devoted exclusively to middle D and Eb. Intonation is remarkably good on all of these giant saxes with 3 vents.
     
  8. saxismyaxe

    saxismyaxe Friends of the WF Distinguished Member

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    There are photos of his converted sax prototype all over Facebook, and I have to say that it looks like something of a cluster....er....well you know where I'm headed. From the looks of it, not all of the octave vents are synced, and appear that they must be independently activated:

    yuyu.jpg
     
  9. jbtsax

    jbtsax Distinguished Member Distinguished Member

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    Those appear to be nothing but a series of "water keys" (spit valves) placed all over the saxophone. I would put a large one on the bottom of the bow if it were me.
     
  10. pete

    pete Brassica Oleracea Staff Member Administrator

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    I believe Mr. Brockman has a simplified version of this available. I remember that it didn't have the 12 vents, but I don't remember how many. Three or four, I think.

    The lesson from such horns as the Raymond Dubois Essor, the Loomis Double Resonance horns, and the Leblanc Rationnel horns hasn't been learned: while all the extra keywork can make the horn better, it's not enough better that people will pay for it.
     
  11. jbtsax

    jbtsax Distinguished Member Distinguished Member

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    . . . . .and, from a tech's point of view, all of the added mechanisms are more difficult to adjust, and to keep in adjustment. No wait! That would be a good thing for business---just like the soft cases. :emoji_rage:
     
  12. Ed

    Ed Founder Staff Member Administrator

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    I would like to see an attempt made to add a vent to deal with D being out of tune. The rest I can deal with.
     
  13. SOTSDO

    SOTSDO Old King Log Staff Member CE/Moderator

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    My baritone (Yamaha YBS-62) has three vent holes: one on the crook, and two on the body. The bottom body vent is cleverly arranged with a flat spring to open an instant before the one above it. Don't know why this is this way, but it does seem to work better than the one I had on my old Selmer Mark VI-equivalent baritone.

    The mechanism is also not as distracting as the little rocker arm on the Selmer instrument. I used to catch that wobbling around out of the corner of my eye when playing - very irritating.
     
  14. kymarto

    kymarto Content Expert/Moderator Staff Member CE/Moderator

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    Acoustically speaking, cylindrical instruments like clarinet can get away with a single register vent because the wave is longer.

    The oboe, let us remember, has three register vents, having a perforation on the top LH touch for middle D. This would not be difficult to implement on sax. Modern oboes often also have an altissimo key.

    I notice that our inventor does not follow Benade's advice about register hole dimensions. Benade, of course, counseled that the register hole could be made much smaller IF the length were reduced, advice that no sax maker has taken to heart. Such an arrangement results, he claimed, in much better intonation--reducing the tendency towards sharpness in the second register.
     
  15. SOTSDO

    SOTSDO Old King Log Staff Member CE/Moderator

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    Bass clarinets are cylindrical, yet I have yet to play an ancient one (I've tried several, under very close supervision) with a single vent that works right.

    Then too, with the half-hole hole through the first finger, left hand finger plate, modern horns have three such holes.

    Soprano clarinets have a single register key, but you "pick" out the altissimo register with the vent and a half-hole fingering on the upper joint. Marchii (sp?) also produced a horn (through Selmer) with a second register vent high up on the barrel.

    Against all of this, there is the added complexity that such arrangements create. Many a school bass clarinet has a completely flawed register system due to the long connection rod on the rear of the instrument, something that invariably gets beaten all to crap by students who share (but who don't care for) a single instrument. The "super oboes" have their complexities, and our friend from Seattle would (if all of his mechanism was realized and automated) would suffer his own brand of hell.

    Just because you can get a patent doesn't mean that it is a commercially viable idea. All that needs be proved in the examining process is that an invention is novel (i.e., that particular application has not previously been thought of and patented), and is not obvious. Nothing there about commercial viability.

    Like I said before, I'll not be pining away after a 'Broctave' key sax any time soon...
     
  16. pete

    pete Brassica Oleracea Staff Member Administrator

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    Sometimes I need to read a bit ....

    If you look at the article that Gandalfe links to, either the columnist or (more likely) Brockman even states that the horn with all the additional keywork is unwieldy. However, he used that as a starting point to create his "Brockman key" vents for toneholes. It can definitely be argued that this idea is difficult to manufacture, etc. I dunno. However, it might be intriguing to see it on a horn and see how well that works -- especially on a horn known for excellent intonation anyway, like a Yanagisawa and/or how it'd work in concert with a horn with three octave vents, like Terry's YBS-62, or like the other Brockman horn I mentioned a few posts ago.

    Annnnyhow, if I had the time that Brockman spent in putting together all those vents on that horn, I'd use it to try to make a better sax synthesizer. You really don't have to worry about intonation there ....
     
  17. SOTSDO

    SOTSDO Old King Log Staff Member CE/Moderator

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    Something like this arrangement might (note that I said might) work with an alternative system of actuating the additional vents. Bowden cables come to mind here. However, going the conventional route with rods and levers would weigh down a horn to the point that it would become unwieldy. Recall one of the arguments against the LeBlanc Rationalle] was that the extra key work made the horn too heavy.

    I've read that the connecting rods (ie, the extra rods on a horn beyond those actually bearing a key) makes up as much as 1/4th of the total weight of a Conn horn. I've never had the guts to disassemble my Conn to test this, but I know that there are a substantial amount of weight tied up in them. Integrating another five or ten such rods could only make the weight worse.

    I think that, like all other such improvements, this one will join them on the "Nice idea, but..." heap at the back of the shop.
     

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