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M/Pieces - Ligs What do the words mean...

Pete Effamy

Senior Member
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1,255
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Hampshire
Is there someplace that I can find audio recordings of a sax (preferably tenor) playing examples of various sounds. Meaning, can I find examples of "dark", "bright", "full", "round", etc.

All wonderful words, but for the most part I have no idea what they mean.

I just got a new YTS-62iii and I would like to get a upgrade to the standard MP. I understand MOST of my sound is me, but (and there is always a but) I also read over and over reviews that claim the MP can impact the sound produced.

I am interested in classical and I am looking for something I would call "smooth" and/or "rich". I am not sure how that fits into the "dark" "bright" etc universe.

Suggestions?
The classical embouchure described by Larry Teal in "The Art of Saxophone Playing" and the one used and taught by Eugene Rousseau has the corners pushed in as part of the "ring" of muscles around the mouthpiece.
This was the classical embouchure that I was taught on clarinet JB - like saying a French "ooo".
 

Saxodent

Member
Messages
128
Check out Theo Wanne's Website.
He shows how mouthpiece design changes the sound (dark,bright,etc ) and the various players that use them.
There are also a few sites showing Pros' set ups including MP,Tip Opening,Reed Strength and Brand of Sax
 

JayeNM

Formerly JayePDX
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1,024
Location
New Mexico, US
Well, as long as the player has no idea what instrument is being played and/or the player has no expectations regarding how different instruments will sound....
I am assuming what you mean here is that the player, in this instance, could have actually been changing his embouchure and blowing each horn a bit differently (?) In order to massage one horn or another a certain sonic direction ?

Possible, but given the context and intent of the vid, methinks not probable.

I would further say that even when a player does that, the horn still is the piece of hardware in their hands and the horn is still gonna sound and perform the way its design specifications make it perform.
 

JayeNM

Formerly JayePDX
Messages
1,024
Location
New Mexico, US
Well, as long as the player has no idea what instrument is being played and/or the player has no expectations regarding how different instruments will sound....
(sorry to make this a 2-parter, I had an internet glitch).

You may also have meant that a listener might have expectation or desire as to which horn they want to sound good (?) Or bad.
Therefore, knowing the models, this would color perception ? Also a valid point. Although I will share this:

On the 'other' sax forum, when this vid was posted, there were a number of replies along the lines of "wow, I never realized how bright a horn XXX is compared to YYY"...or "hmmm...AAA sounds surprisingly dead to me", etc. In all cases, those horns being commented on were very popular, high-end instruments.

So while expectations can color perception to achieve a desired result, expectations can also be dashed....

So, I am not too sure it matters much whether the player 'knows' the identity of the model being played or not. And likewise that a player's expectation will necessarily result in the result they expect/hope to find....

But part of my point here was: these vids are one of the BETTER internet examples of where the creator has done a comparison correctly - by reducing variables. In this case, the variable which remains a variable...
... is the horn.
(again, assuming the player was not massaging their blowing from horn to horn - which I feel is safe to assume).
THAT makes for a useful test/comparison. And in this instance, provides a pretty good example as to how the same voice of sax can have significantly different tonalities due to its design.

When folks start clicking around on the net comparing sound samples of...horns, for example...typically they are left with comparing samples where the recording equipment, player, player's setup, and room are all different. Better than having NO samples available for sure ...but arguably of only quite limited use, really.

So - keeping this thread OT - the OP here has a fixed piece of hardware - his 62...and is on a mouthpiece search. So the optimal sort of online sample(s), the one which would provide the most useful info, would be the one(s) where the variable is the mouthpiece.
Thus horn, player, room, and recording equipment are consistent.
 
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JayeNM

Formerly JayePDX
Messages
1,024
Location
New Mexico, US
This video which has been linked to on numerous occasions on this and other saxophone forums showing Don Menza playing different sounds and styles on a Cannonball tenor is a good demonstration of the part the player's concept and skill play in producing a particular sound.
Absolutely a good point. A good example of illustrating how much (potential) 'power' a player has over massaging the tone of a single instrument this way or that.

I would offer that Don's 'sounds' would have been noticeably different had he been playing a Keilwerth or Borgani .

One can also reasonably posit that the tonalities would have been noticeably different had he been playing on a different mouthpiece.
 

jbtsax

Well-Known Member
Subscriber
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7,287
Location
Beautiful Springville, Utah USA
Many here are aware that I am a real "acoustics geek" and as such I want to know why one saxophone played by the same player with the same set-up sounds "brighter" or "darker" than another. My previous reading of acoustic studies has taught me what differences in saxophones do not shape or contribute to the differences in tone quality since studies to date have shown that wall vibrations do not couple with (or effect) the sound waves in the air column inside the instrument. These include:

1) The finish of the instrument whether it is raw brass, lacquered brass, or plated brass
2) The metallic content of the brass alloy used to make the body of the instrument
3) The materials soldered to the exterior of the body such as ribs, and braces that give it more "weight"
4) So called "resonance" devices attached to the outside of the body such as LeFreque, weighted neck screws, or "The Snake" ;)

The harder question then is what differences in the design and construction of saxophones do create the obvious differences in tone quality demonstrated in the video from Sax.co.uk posted by JayeNM. There is an interesting paper by Dalmont, Gilbert and others entitled "Some Aspects of Tuning and Clean Intonation in Reed Instruments" that I believe provides some clues. The abstract of the study is printed below with some key words and phrases highlighted that are the "clues" I was referring to.

The influence of the first and second resonance frequencies on tuning, timbre (or tone colour) and ease of playing is investigated for reed instruments, such as the clarinet, alto saxophone and oboe. Theoretical analyses of the effects of the reed and the player embouchure (i.e. lip position and pressure on the reed) are reviewed, as well as the consequences of inharmonicity in the resonance frequencies. This review allows us to present interesting interpretations of the numerous experiments reported here. Three kinds of results are given: (1) comparison of playing frequencies and first resonance frequencies, for several fingerings with or without open register hole, leading to the definition of a frequency independent length correction for the embouchure; (2) examination of the effect of inharmonicity of the two first resonance frequencies on both tone colour and ease of playing, the causes coming from either the player embouchure or the instrument construction; (3) comparison between theory and experiment for the inharmonicity produced by the changes in conicity in oboes, leading to an interpretation of the maker 's choices. The results show how judicious use of simple tools, such as calculations or measurements of input impedance or playing data obtained using an artificial mouth, can be of help to the understanding of instrument construction and to the instrument designer.
"Harmonicity" means how closely the frequencies of the harmonics or overtones match whole number multiples of the frequency of the fundamental. "Inharmonicity" then is the result of frequencies of the harmonics that do not match whole number multiples of the frequency of the fundamental. According to this study, factors that influence the tone colour or "timbre" of a saxophone are:
  1. The relative strength of the first and second resonance frequencies
  2. The effects of the reed and the player's embouchure
  3. The effects of inharmonicity caused by the player's embouchure
  4. The effects of inharmonicity caused by the instrument construction
  5. The effects of inharmonicity produced by changes in the "conicity"
I would just add that although there are no studies that show this, my experience has been that saxophones with a larger bore size have a full sound with fewer strong upper harmonics which give it a "darker", "warmer", "rounder" sound. I believe the same principle is true when one compares the tone of a cornet to a flugel horn. Both have exactly the same length, but the larger bore flugel horn has a much more "mellow" sound.
 
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Dibbs

Member
Messages
598
...
I would just add that although there are no studies that show this, my experience has been that saxophones with a larger bore size have a full sound with fewer strong upper harmonics which give it a "darker", "warmer", "rounder" sound.
...
There may be no studies that show that directly but Benade's cutoff frequency equation implies it. Cutoff frequency determines how strong the upper harmonics are. It's proportional to tone hole diameter and inversely proportional to bore diameter.

From Cutoff frequencies and crossfingering in woodwinds
"
fc = 0.11 (b/a)v/(st)½

where b is the radius of a typical tonehole, a the radius of the bore, v the speed of sound, s is half the typical spacing between tone holes and t the typical effective length of the tone hole, including end effects.
"
 

Wonko

Member
Messages
252
Location
Belgium
There may be no studies that show that directly but Benade's cutoff frequency equation implies it. Cutoff frequency determines how strong the upper harmonics are. It's proportional to tone hole diameter and inversely proportional to bore diameter.

From Cutoff frequencies and crossfingering in woodwinds
"
fc = 0.11 (b/a)v/(st)½

where b is the radius of a typical tonehole, a the radius of the bore, v the speed of sound, s is half the typical spacing between tone holes and t the typical effective length of the tone hole, including end effects.
"
What does this mean in english?

In other words, what is the effect of that cutoff frequency? what will I hear when it is higher or when it is lower? More overtones? Less overtones?
??????
 

Dibbs

Member
Messages
598
What does this mean in english?

In other words, what is the effect of that cutoff frequency? what will I hear when it is higher or when it is lower? More overtones? Less overtones?
??????
All other things being equal:

Low cutoff frequency - fewer high harmonics
High cutoff frequency - more high harmonics.

But it is only part of the story. There's more going on than that particularly with conical bored instruments. See the article I referenced above.

 
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