SYOS

Questions, questions?

old git

Tremendous Bore
As you guys know, I'm a fan of Jim Schmidt, only wish I knew about him in my Norton period. Recently drew attention to his fingering system and also to his carbon fibre sax and flutes except he is now looking for someone to take up production, looks like in metal.

I admire his out of the box thinking, particularly as further search of his site gained access to his musical notation system. I like what he offers as it would mean the end to scales and just reading note pitch and length. Realise that it is very unlikely to catch on as it would mean total retraining of teachers and training courses from primary school level to degree and PHd levels.

My sister had perfect pitch, was brilliant on violin and pretty good on viola and she always held that scales had a feeling, some happier than others. Everyone seems to agree that minor scales are sadder than majors leaving the question, is this because we can hear it or because we have been told they are and therefore comply? Tom Mapfumo, we need your professional advice here. Indian scales sounded funny to some European ears until Ravi Shankar made us more familiar with them. Was this natural education or because we were told he was good and played well?

That's what I like about Schmidt and his ideas, not necessarily accepting systems and known methods. It means we can ask what are scales? What is their purpose? Does Jim's notation method appeal to any one else? Scary to throw away a whole system but there have been threads about the B-C, E-F, their associated accidentals and why. Which is clearer D#, Eb or the single value that Jim gives both?

Think about it before replying, no epiphanies or total rejections, just think for a while before keyboard and probably me bashing.

Over to you Tom.
 
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half diminished

Senior Member
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1,361
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Buckinghamshire
As you guys know, I'm a fan of Jim Schmidt, only wish I knew about him in my Norton period. Recently drew attention to his fingering system and also to his carbon fibre sax and flutes except he is now looking for someone to take up production, looks like in metal.

I admire his out of the box thinking, particularly as further search of his site gained access to his musical notation system. I like what he offers as it would mean the end to scales and just reading note pitch and length. Realise that it is very unlikely to catch on as it would mean total retraining of teachers and training courses from primary school level to degree and PHd levels.

My sister had perfect pitch, was brilliant on violin and pretty good on viola and she always held that scales had a feeling, some happier than others. Everyone seems to agree that minor scales are sadder than majors leaving the question, is this because we can hear it or because we have been told they are and therefore comply? Tom Mapfumo, we need your professional advice here. Indian scales sounded funny to some European ears until Ravi Shankar made us more familiar with them. Was this natural education or because we were told he was good and played well?

That's what I like about Schmidt and his ideas, not necessarily accepting systems and known methods. It means we can ask what are scales? What is their purpose? Does Jim's notation method appeal to any one else? Scary to throw away a whole system but there have been threads about the B-C, E-F, their associated accidentals and why. Which is clearer D#, Eb or the single value that Jim gives both?

Think about it before replying, no epiphanies or total rejections, just think for a while before keyboard and probably me bashing.

Over to you Tom.
I like to think I make up my own mind after careful consideration of the facts. Of course, most 'factual' stuff is secondary so you are relying on the fact (assumption) that the info is provided accurately and without bias. I had this discussion with a historian once who was arguing about history being factual. He wasn't too happy when I reminded him that most history was written by the winners!

Of course like they say in court - the jury must disregard that comment! Once you've seen something, heard it or been told it - it's difficult to then totally dismiss the notion.

As for 'an end to scales' - isn't that what we strive for as jazz (wannabe in my case) musicians anyway? Individual notes are like the letters of the alphabet and laregly meaningless unless put together to form words, phrases, sentences, paragraphs etc.

I aspire to play (improvise) what sound right to my ear and to that of those who know best and in whom I trust. Until then I'll be practicing all my scales, chord tones and licks.

Or shall I get my coat. :w00t:
 
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dooce

Well-Known Member
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Daventry
Fascinating bloke - thanks for bringing him to our (or at least, my) attention. I love outside-the-box thinkers and this guy is way out there. I have to say I am more fascinated by his tenor sax and flute than by his theory which he could, quite honestly, present in a more accessible way (if it really is that simple) and probably receive greater response.

But the instruments - the flute looks like something from another planet, and the tenor just looks so simple and elegant. Assuming they work, they are great pieces of work. I hope he gets a response, although it'll be a lucky man who breaks through the inherent conservatism of the music business.
 
OP
old git

old git

Tremendous Bore
Thanks for actually looking at the site Dooce. His notation system is in the development stage as it is handwritten, with more work and a good graphic designer, it would be logical and usable.

Of course cost would be a serious drawback for the industry. Those of you that remember the days when music shops sold sheet music as their primary profit source, most light and classical vocal music was available in various keys. Double that to offer traditional and Schmidt notation.........problems, lessened by the ability to download and print your copy off the 'net.

New born babies make the same sound wherever they are born but develop different vocal traits as their environment affects them. Swap Australian and Scots new borns and they will grow up speaking with the local dialect. From this it follows that our musical scale systems are learnt, accounting for the very different systems used throughout the World. This suggests that any musical opinion is learnt from those we consider mentors. So does "It sounds good to me?", really mean "It sounds good to me because I've been told that it sounds good."?

Would be interested in the feedback from those who have studied philosophy and human development but probably will not understand their answers. :confused:
 
OP
old git

old git

Tremendous Bore
Must admit to being a little disappointed by the lack of response. Perhaps a little more background to my appreciation of his system.

Was taught violoncello at school, very traditional system resulting in the inability to remember how you should hold the bow and how it was tuned.

Took up trombone and learnt from a tutor and listening.

Played banjo, guitar, autoharp and mountain dulcimer around the folk clubs for years learning mainly from books, listening and from other players.

Played around with whistles and keyless flutes until realising that Irish and folk sessions were a very rigid form. The aim is to play everything together and exactly the same.

Attracted by Cajun accordion, like most jazz, impossible not to tap the foot but no bands to play with so joined a Morris side and discovered that the most recommended tuition book suggested that it would take around five years to reach a standard suitable for public playing. Very annoyed by this total disregard of training knowledge and principles and criticism of this 'holy book' caused quite a storm on the appropriate board. Then our Muso moved to Devon and the most amazing lady inherited the role. Knees had gone with too much dancing, so drummed and then took up melodeon and learned by trial and error to play all the tunes she had danced to. Remember this is a Bisonoric instrument so that you get two differing notes for each button and the system does not repeat itself every octave. She managed this without any tuition, tuition books or being able to read. Took up Boehm flute to provide a different sound to the side as recorders and similar instruments just did not carry.

Following this got a tenor and learnt all the notes on the instrument excepting altissimo, and then started to play the various tunes I knew and other items from reading. Not a normal method but did all jazz musicians read? Guys like Errol Garner couldn't read, were self taught, yet provided very listenable and interesting music and was one of the first to hum what he was improvising, very difficult on the sax. ;}

Maybe that is why Jim's notation and fingering systems appeal to me. It is time for a good sort out of the various reasons for the present system and nomenclature. In another thread, there is a reference to "playing the quavers as if they are 16ths?". This is not a criticism just an illustration of two languages being used. It is almost as confusing as mixing Imperial and Metric measurements. Does anyone refer to hemi-semi-demiquavers these days or do they refer to fractional notes?

Take Jim's fingering and notation systems together and what need is there for scales? If you know the semi-tone, damn, should have written half pitch change ;}, fingering and the notation system, you can effectively change scale by simply going up or down so many half pitch changes without having to change key signature, purely the pitch. Ian's point about the alphabet and reading can be countered by which do you learn first, the alphabet and its sounds or to read? The same sequence can be used in improvising and possibly confirmed by the hummer / piano players e.g. Garner and Brubeck, two totally disparate musicians in their outlook and training, and my Morris Muso who know what they want to play and play it. Among the snags that affect me, the price of Jim's instruments, so can Birdman persuade Bauhaus Walstein to produce them and PrintMusic not including his symbols.

Perhaps the answer is for that nice Mr. Thomas to split the site as jazz was split in the fifties and early sixties," mouldy figs" and "modernists". :)
 

Andrew Sanders

Northern Commissioner for Caslm
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"New born babies make the same sound wherever they are born but develop different vocal traits as their environment affects them."

Recently it has been found that babies do in fact squawk with an accent which mirrors the speach patterns of the mother.
 

Ben Cain

Member
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108
Location
Essex, UK
Hi,
Thanks O.G. for bringing this guy to me attention. I have read his site with great interest and have contacted him regarding going to try the tenor sax at his workshop in February (a holiday to LA won on Classic FM lat year) My wife has agreed to accompany me and listen with interest. She is not a sax player but a blower of the Flugal horn.
His notation ideas are a good way from conventional thinking but I see merits if as an earlier respondent commented that his site is a little impenetrable on the subject.
Thanks again for bringing him to my attention. Do you know of any other 'out of the box' designers of flutes or sax?
Ben
 

Morgan Fry

Senior Member
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447
Location
Leeds
A horn that's better in tune with a better sound is a good idea. I think he's fighting a losing battle as far as fingering systems and especially notation. OK, the systems may make more sense. So did the Leblnc Rationale. But it's like keyboard systems. Qwerty was designed to be slower, but will always be the standard because of inertia.

Adoption of either system is just too costly. As a professional musician I don't have time to learn a new fingering system when the current one does the job just fine. Sure, it might have taken longer to learn than the Schmidt system would have. But the learning is done now. There is decades of muscle memory to erase and rewrite for essentially no gain.

Anyway, some very interesting ideas he has. I would be very interested in seeing his engineering ideas in a boehm system horn, but it doesn't seem like him to make one.
 
OP
old git

old git

Tremendous Bore
Thanks for the response guys.

Andrew, your observation is correct, babies show favourable responses to their mother's favourite programmes' signature tune. Shows that the auditory system is well developed at birth. BTW Where's my glass banjo? ;}

Morgan, the reason that Boehm invented his system was that flutes of the time were quiet. The system caught on because a louder flute meant more likelihood of work for the flautist. My flute, a Pearl, has thirteen pads of the same size and three smaller ones. Look at the tone holes on a conventional saxophone, not progressive as on the Schmidt. The probable reason is that they are parallel and conical bore instruments respectively and intonation. Boehm and simple system flutes existed alongside each other in professional use for a reasonable period so you will be in demand. The British public have survived the fairly recent old pence / new pence changes and converting from Imperial to Metric mensuration systems, why not musical notation and instrument construction changes? As for keyboards, have a look at A, B and C system Continental button accordions, there are still black / white colour differences in the buttons but the average player would not miss the loss of one colour as it becomes muscle memory and pitch, rather than visual clues that are used. You will always be in demand as you can play the sax rather than playing at playing the sax which is all I aspire to. ;}

Phil, talking of Nortons, are you old enough to remember the Lawton 650SS that ruled the roost in production racing, jockeyed by your namesake Read? Initially the bike felt better cornering one way than t'other. The wheel builder then offset the rims a quarter of an inch, sorry, six millimetres. Result? Total Domination of the class.

Final point. No need for umpteen scales, modes and whatevers, just plain pitch and bu@@er the theory. :D
 

Morgan Fry

Senior Member
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447
Location
Leeds
Morgan, the reason that Boehm invented his system was that flutes of the time were quiet. The system caught on because a louder flute meant more likelihood of work for the flautist.
Right. Does Schmidt's sax design have an advantage that is as big as this? It sounds like we're talking about a difference in tone and a possible improvement in technique. Nothing like the huge change to flutes that the Boehm system was. Sure, some players may decide it's worthwhile to adopt. But in today's world I don't see how it will give anyone a competitive advantage. What I would be more interested in seeing is what he could do within the constraints of a Boehm-like fingering system.

The British public have survived the fairly recent old pence / new pence changes and converting from Imperial to Metric mensuration systems, why not musical notation and instrument construction changes?
There's a huge difference between getting everybody to count to 100 instead of 12 and 20 and changing a musical notation system. This is more like asking everybody to stop using Latin characters for spelling english and using Devanagari instead. Devanagari is more complete, simpler, and less ambiguous. And we'll never use it to write English.

As for keyboards -- my apologies, I was talking about typewriter keyboards ;}. In the '30s the Dvorak system offered a significant improvement over the existing system. Pretty much nobody has adopted it yet. The existing qwerty keyboard works well enough. Not the best possible, but good enough that you don't gain enough by changing. I think Schmidt is in a similar situation. Even if his horns are better, are they better enough?

As an aside, IIRC, he used to have some other pads, rubber ones (I believe it was him, may be wrong). Saw an old BA alto that had some installed. Response was superb. I really do like some of Jim's ideas, and we're better off with guys like him around whether many of their ideas are ultimately adopted or not.
 

Stephen Howard

Well-Known Member
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UK
I admire Jim for his inventiveness, even if perhaps his ideas are either ahead of their time or largely impractical.
He follows in the footsteps of the great Adolph Sax himself, who was no slouch when it came to inventing incredible instruments that never quite caught on.

My personal favourite is the Trombone Multipavillons, of which I've had the privilege of playing:

http://noisejunk.eu/index.php?page=instruments&instrument_id=143

Jim's not alone though, take a look at this fascinating thread on a trombone forum.

http://tromboneforum.org/index.php?topic=44607.0

Regards,
 

Stephen Howard

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,618
Location
UK
Slushpumped, myself but could never afford a valve trombone. Those Multipavillons are way out of sight.
BTW:-Never imagined you straightening stockings, Stephen.
Stockings. Old term for inner slides.
When I was studying instrument repair at college I worked on an exquisite Conn ( or it might have been a King ) trombone.
It had a bent slide, and I spent the best part of a day realigning the slides against a straight edge. It was one of the most painstaking repairs I've ever undertaken - but I finished the job, and was duly proud of it.
A week later it was back in for repair - the owner had sat on the slide.

Regards,
 
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