Intonation Tendencies and Sax Bore Design

Pete Thomas

Chief of Stuff
Commercial Café Supporter
Messages
12,641
Location
McLean, Virginia
Disappointed no mention of PPT on their site, which is ideal for Conn 10Ms, the main reason I used that specific Slant Signature Link as a model because it was so much more in tune that Lawton or even any of the old pickle barrels I have.
 

Keep Blowing

Senior Member
Commercial Café Supporter
Messages
1,490
Location
Bottesford England
Six years since the last posting I thought that I could restart this thread with some information about a couple of Apps that I have found.

The first one is called "Intonation Station" and it seems to be available for Apple devices, if not yet Google things. Intonation Station – The easy way to map your intrument's intonation It is said to let you "map your instrument's intonation just by playing your favourite tune". It creates an intonation profile and produces some statistics for intonation and note consistency.

I haven't bought the App (yet), but have tried to make intonation charts by hand in order to understand tuning tendencies on some of my saxophones. This looks like an interesting idea..

I found it because I was searching around for information about Conn baritone intonation and how that responds to different mouthpieces. There is a Case Study on their website that relates to a Conn 12M and various mouthpieces. Case Study – Conn 12M Baritone Saxophone – Intonation Station

I also recently bought a new App called "Tonal Energy" that has some very useful functionality, including their Pitch Tracker that produces a graph of your tuning over time as you play a note or a series of notes. TonalEnergy :: TonalEnergy Tuner

Rhys
I had the tonal energy app on Android, it may have been my phone but the app is out out of tune, I know that sounds strange but check it against a tuner you know is right
 

aldevis

Surrealist Contributor.
Cafe Moderator
Messages
11,939
Location
London
I had the tonal energy app on Android, it may have been my phone but the app is out out of tune, I know that sounds strange but check it against a tuner you know is right
Interesting.
Can you please explain better?
 

aldevis

Surrealist Contributor.
Cafe Moderator
Messages
11,939
Location
London
I found it because I was searching around for information about Conn baritone intonation and how that responds to different mouthpieces. There is a Case Study on their website that relates to a Conn 12M and various mouthpieces.
Case Study – Conn 12M Baritone Saxophone – Intonation Station
This looks like the tester is not fully aware about tuning an instrument
Also graphic representation of tuning tendencies is pretty pointless,
A reliable study would work Bb1 to F3 and would have F1-F2 as a in tune.
Also would know that the common nomenclature for a chromatic scale is Bb1 B1 C1 C#1...
 
Last edited:
OP
rhysonsax

rhysonsax

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,554
Location
Surrey, UK
Disappointed no mention of PPT on their site, which is ideal for Conn 10Ms, the main reason I used that specific Slant Signature Link as a model because it was so much more in tune that Lawton or even any of the old pickle barrels I have.
Hi Pete, if we are talking baritones (I was) then it would be 12M: 10M is the Conn tenor model.

I think the tester on that site was just using four mouthpieces they happened to have, in order to demonstrate the intonation software. It wasn't an exhaustive test of good mouthpieces to help tuning on a Conn baritone.

I'm interested in your baritone PPT - as it is based on an old ebonite Link, does it have any adaptions to make it work well with Conns ? And do you know how it compares with Ed Pillinger's NY baritone model, which I think is also Link-like ?

Rhys
 
OP
rhysonsax

rhysonsax

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,554
Location
Surrey, UK
This looks like the tester is not fully aware about tuning an instrument
Also graphic representation of tuning tendencies is pretty pointless,
A reliable study would work Bb1 to F3 and would have F1-F2 as a in tune.
Also would know that the common nomenclature for a chromatic scale is Bb1 B1 C1 C#1...
Good points.

1. & 3. You would have expected the tester to have tuned as well as possible before running the tests to produce the chart. It seems that they didn't do that.
2. I like graphical representation as a way of putting information across. Why doesn't it work for you here ?
3. Agreed - they seem to have messed up the nomenclature at the bottom.

Rhys
 

Pete Thomas

Chief of Stuff
Commercial Café Supporter
Messages
12,641
Location
McLean, Virginia
Hi Pete, if we are talking baritones (I was) then it would be 12M: 10M is the Conn tenor model.
Sorry, my mistake, or was it spell corrected changing 12m to 10m.

No I did mean specifically 12m as the tenor PPT is not so much based on a Slant Link, (more of a Vandoren/Berg/RPC vibe) whereas the PPT baritone is actually moulded direct from a Slant Link I have sitting right here. I didn't really expect the app people to have a PPT.

There's a story involved when I have a bit more time.
 

aldevis

Surrealist Contributor.
Cafe Moderator
Messages
11,939
Location
London
2. I like graphical representation as a way of putting information across. Why doesn't it work for you here ?
Because the whole concept of tuning and stretched octaves is object to debate.
But mostly because if most notes (including C3, as it's called there) are shown sharp there is an initial error, either in method or in the experiment

But in general, a properly made graphic representation can be very useful
 

diyaddict

New Member
Messages
8
Location
UK
Disappointed no mention of PPT on their site, which is ideal for Conn 10Ms, the main reason I used that specific Slant Signature Link as a model because it was so much more in tune that Lawton or even any of the old pickle barrels I have.
Hi Pete, I'm the developer of Intonation Station and also the author of the case study. As another contributor has pointed out, the case study was more about demonstrating how to get the best from the app than an exhaustive test of currently available mouthpieces suitable for the 12M. Unfortunately I don't have the resources to purchases a large quantity of mouthpieces to test, but if you'd like to send or loan me a PPT, I'd be happy to add it to the case study. I also have a pre-war 10M and a 1931 Conn bass. I use a metal Link STM on the 10M and a Conn Eagle on the bass, but I've never tried the PPT.
 

diyaddict

New Member
Messages
8
Location
UK
This looks like the tester is not fully aware about tuning an instrument
Also graphic representation of tuning tendencies is pretty pointless,
A reliable study would work Bb1 to F3 and would have F1-F2 as a in tune.
Also would know that the common nomenclature for a chromatic scale is Bb1 B1 C1 C#1...
Hi Aldevis. I'm the developer of Intonation Station and also the author of the case study. I developed the app after tearing my hair out trying to work out a vintage saxophone's intonation tendencies by hand using a conventional tuner. I'd like to address some of your points.
This looks like the tester is not fully aware about tuning an instrument
You're not specific on why, so it's hard to address this point. The case study clearly stated that the sax was warmed up then tuned to middle C on a standard tuner. Why middle C and not concert A or some other note? Because it's roughly in the middle of the instrument and we don't know it's intonation yet. We find out later whether middle C was a good note on which to tune that sax/mouthpiece combination, once we've completed the study (spoiler: it wasn't).

Also graphic representation of tuning tendencies is pretty pointless,
I'm not sure what you're saying here. Would you prefer a written list of tuning tendencies? The app supplies this as well in its Details Tab, as well as a load of other information pertinent to intonation/tuning. I think you may be saying that we shouldn't rely on such a fine-grained representation of intonation and use our ears more. All I can say is that the instruments I use - a selection of modern and vintage, both brass and woodwind - have various specific pitches that are real clangers at a gig if you don't know the instrument thoroughly. The graphical approach combined with the detailed stats works well for me in preparing in advance for pitches I need to watch out for. Indeed, using this approach has produced a massive transformation in my ability to play in tune in public ensemble. Of course, others prefer different approaches, as the multitude of related comments in this forum testifies.

A reliable study would work Bb1 to F3 and would have F1-F2 as a in tune.
We don't know whether the range F1-F2 is in tune until the study is completed. On my 12M, that range contains pitches that are both flat and sharp. The range for which you want the sax to be mostly in tune is somewhat dependent on the type of music you play, but since the app doesn't know that, it calculates the average tuning over the whole range played. For the first mouthpiece, the study points out that Intonation Station did indeed confirm that the average tuning was sharp by 6 cents.

Also would know that the common nomenclature for a chromatic scale is Bb1 B1 C1 C#1...
Remember that the app doesn't know that you're playing a chromatic scale, or even what instrument you're playing. I took a decision use the octave suffixes (C1 versus C2) most closely related to international standards of frequency/pitch. If this is a deal-breaker, then I can look into ways of labelling the various notes within the range of generic groups of instruments, but so far I haven't had any feedback to that effect from users of the app.

But mostly because if most notes (including C3, as it's called there) are shown sharp there is an initial error, either in method or in the experiment
This is addressed several times in the study. For example, where the neck was simply too short to pull the mouthpiece out further. In any case, the case study was designed to show how users how to get the best out of the app for an arbitrary instrument/mouthpiece combination and to highlight individual bad pitches on that instrument, not as an exhaustive study on which mouthpiece is the best for a particular model of sax. I'm happy to alter the website to make that more explicit.

All the best, and apologies if I've misunderstood your comments. Paul
 

diyaddict

New Member
Messages
8
Location
UK
Good points.

1. & 3. You would have expected the tester to have tuned as well as possible before running the tests to produce the chart. It seems that they didn't do that.
2. I like graphical representation as a way of putting information across. Why doesn't it work for you here ?
3. Agreed - they seem to have messed up the nomenclature at the bottom.

Rhys
Hi Rhys, hopefully I've addressed those points in my post to Aldevis above, but If not, I'm happy to discuss further and edit the study as necessary. All the best, Paul
 

vries1

Member
Messages
205
Location
Montpellier area, France
Very nice app. For nomenclature, I would probably have expected the lowest written C to be noted as C1... which would lead to B0, Bb0 (and A0) for the notes below. I mean, it seems strange to call mid A A1 on a Conn 12M but A2 on a YBS-62. But then, I am not really informed about the proper conventions.
 
OP
rhysonsax

rhysonsax

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,554
Location
Surrey, UK
Hi Rhys, hopefully I've addressed those points in my post to Aldevis above, but If not, I'm happy to discuss further and edit the study as necessary. All the best, Paul
Hi Paul,

Nice to hear from you, to have you as a member of the forum and to discover that you are in the UK.

I do like your App and think that it can be developed to be even better or at least more familiar to sax players in how it presents information. I think the naming of notes should default to, or at least allow users, to specify it in the most standard way for each sax size.

In terms of the study, I think it would tell more about the instrument itself if it were tuned as close to "right on" as possible before looking at intonation deviations across the range.

I found your study and the App because I have a 1931 Conn baritone that is both magnificent (sound) and frustrating (intonation variations when played by me). I have bought several mouthpieces that are supposed to suit the 12M and help its tuning, including two Erik Greiffenhagen "double chamber" pieces and Brendan Tibbs silver mouthpiece as well as some older large chamber pieces. Maybe I could help with your study - send me a message if you would like to discuss it.

Good luck

Rhys
 

diyaddict

New Member
Messages
8
Location
UK
Hi Paul,

Nice to hear from you, to have you as a member of the forum and to discover that you are in the UK.

I do like your App and think that it can be developed to be even better or at least more familiar to sax players in how it presents information. I think the naming of notes should default to, or at least allow users, to specify it in the most standard way for each sax size.

In terms of the study, I think it would tell more about the instrument itself if it were tuned as close to "right on" as possible before looking at intonation deviations across the range.

I found your study and the App because I have a 1931 Conn baritone that is both magnificent (sound) and frustrating (intonation variations when played by me). I have bought several mouthpieces that are supposed to suit the 12M and help its tuning, including two Erik Greiffenhagen "double chamber" pieces and Brendan Tibbs silver mouthpiece as well as some older large chamber pieces. Maybe I could help with your study - send me a message if you would like to discuss it.

Good luck

Rhys
Hi Rhys,
Thanks for your reply, and I'd be delighted if you could be involved in the study. I'll PM you about that.

With respect to nomenclature, I face a dilemma, as the app works in its present form for all musical instruments. It currently has a range of concert C-2 to beyond C8.

One option would be to write a sax-specific version, but since many of us are multi-instrumentalists, that leads to users having to buy several different versions which I want to avoid.

Another option would be to supply an 'instrument picker' in the settings tab, but there would be a mountain of work involved in finding the conventions for every one (which may vary with location) and I'd be bound to invoke ire by missing someone's treasured instrument out!

That leaves finding a more generic way to set the nomenclature. I'll have a good think about this, but would welcome any suggestions.

I take your point about the study. I originally wanted it to double as a step-by-step guide to cover the scenarios that a first-time user would encounter, so there's a danger of leaving out essential steps in order to present final intonation profiles that can be cross-compared, in the interests of brevity. For now, I'll add some clarification, and aim to do some further studies that would be better suited to mouthpiece choice.

I'd better leave it there, as I don't want to divert the thread's topic. It would be great to start a separate thread on app-related matters, but I'm not sure of the rules on this. I'd hate to be perceived as someone trying to use this fantastic forum to punt their software.
 
Last edited:

Jeanette

Organizress
Cafe Moderator
Messages
24,484
Location
Cheshire UK
I'd better leave it there, as I don't want to divert the thread's topic. It would be great to start a separate thread on app-related matters, but I'm not sure of the rules on this. I'd hate to be perceived as someone trying to use this fantastic forum to punt their software.
Pm @Pete Thomas to discuss, we do have commercial subscriber options. It's great to have commercial members as long as they are not here just to sell :)

Jx
 

aldevis

Surrealist Contributor.
Cafe Moderator
Messages
11,939
Location
London
Very nice app. For nomenclature, I would probably have expected the lowest written C to be noted as C1... which would lead to B0, Bb0 (and A0) for the notes below. I mean, it seems strange to call mid A A1 on a Conn 12M but A2 on a YBS-62. But then, I am not really informed about the proper conventions.
I am all with you on this, and the A1 on a 12m or on a Yanagisawa is exactly my objection.

On the other hand Bb1 to F3 is the established nomenclature for saxophone, and we have to adapt.

I will re-read the thread and try to express better the concepts that I scattered around.

Also good for me to refresh to myself some basic concepts
 

jbtsax

Well-Known Member
Subscriber
Messages
7,028
Location
Beautiful Springville, Utah USA
This topic has always been an interest of mine. I am sorry this thread was started before I became active at the "Cafe". I have read all 4 pages and there has not been one mention of "mouthpiece pitch" or input pitch as it relates to the intonation tendencies of the saxophone and only a slight mention of the volume of the "missing cone" as it relates to the mouthpiece volume. These are statements from Benade's "Fundamentals of Musical Acoustics" that are paraphrased to be more concise and more easily understood. In order for a saxophone to play properly "one must simultaneously meet two requirements:"
  1. The "high frequency requirement" that the played pitch of the mouthpiece plus neck should match the "natural resonant frequency" of a complete cone of the same length.
  2. The "low frequency requirement" that the "effective volume" of the mouthpiece must match that of the calculated "missing cone" to its apex.
Both require the calculation of the length of the "missing cone" to its apex. That length along with the diameter of its base can be used to calculate it's volume.

One method given in Ferron's book "The Saxophone is my Voice" is to measure and calculate the taper of the neck. Extending that taper to an apex gives the length and therefore the volume of the missing cone.

A second method I devised to calculate the length of the missing cone is to finger low Bb with the mouthpiece removed and then "pop" a key on the lower stack with a tuner next to the neck opening. That gives the "natural resonant frequency" of the conical tune consisting of the body plus the neck. The wavelength of that frequency subtracted from the wavelength of frequency of the played low Bb gives a close approximation of the length added by the "missing cone" to its apex.

That length however calculated when added to the measured length of the neck allows one to compute the "natural resonant frequency" of the neck + the missing cone by means of this formula: Frequency = speed of air divided by 2 times the length. (note: in a conical tube, a completed soundwave travels to the opening and back making it's wavelength is 2 times the length of the tube.)

The "effective volume" of the part of the mouthpiece that extends beyond the neck is larger that its "geometric volume" by about 33% due to the tip opening, reed travel, and effects of the player's oral cavity. I calculated the "effective volume" of a Rousseau 4R alto mouthpiece using the technique described on FMA pp. 466-467 that Benade and Gebler used to find the "effective volume" of a soprano mouthpiece. Attached is a pdf file showing those calculations. Another file shows using Ferron's formula to calculate the taper and length of the "missing cone".

Another bit of information from Benade is also important to this topic. "A reduction of the reed cavity [mouthpiece] volume produces a widening of the of the resonance frequency ratios [harmonics], while an increase in the cavity [mouthpiece] volume narrows these ratios.

In my understanding whatever part the "geometry" of the body of a saxophone plays in its intonation tendencies, the effects of matching the volume and frequency of the "missing cone" along with the "input pitch" the player puts into the saxophone must be taken into consideration.
 

Attachments

Top Bottom