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About this book

This book presents a novel method of grafting musical wind instruments by exchanging an instrument’s standard mouthpiece with different tone generators. Using the concrete example of the soprano saxophone, it describes how, with six other tone generators, including brass, double reed, and free reed mechanisms, the saxophone can be extended to nearly every wind instrument category in the von Hornbostel and Sachs classification system. The book demonstrates how it is possible to play these instrument variations with high proficiency, and describes the method of hyper-specialization, including acoustical insights, conservatory training methods and the underlying philosophy. The latter is based on the cultural traditions of the different wind instrument prototypes and the Deep Listening philosophy of cultivating internal diversity, and approach that leads to a new level of wind instrument virtuosity that offers great timbral variety combined with the flexibility of a regular acoustic wind instrument.

Table of Contents

Frontmatter

Chapter 1. Introduction

Abstract
The goal of this book is to provide a new saxophone method that aims at a novel, versatile performance style by means of different, exchangeable mouthpieces for the instrument. Instead of developing a unitary, iconic sound as existing teaching methods of wind instruments typically do, the approach of this book focuses on the production of multiple, diverse sonic identities. These can be used to adapt to different musical scenarios including performance styles driven by both intuitive and rational thinking processes. When classical orchestras evolved in the 17th century towards a more modern form, musicians started to specialize in a single instrument with strict technical requirements (Spitzer and Zaslaw, The birth of the Orchestra: history of an institution. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2004, [256, p. 21]). These skills were taught in newly-founded conservatories to prepare students in orchestral repertoire performance. Before this era, musicians often played multiple instruments and switched between them during a performance. In the approach described here, the musician can continue to perform on a single wind instrument, but the instrument is drastically expanded through the use of additional sound generators and extended techniques. Through further specialization in this instrument, the performer needs to master it to a level that the instrument takes on additional attributes and characteristics from other wind instrument families. This constitutes the process I call hyper-specialization.
Jonas Braasch

Chapter 2. Acoustics of the Saxophone

Abstract
In this chapter, an overview of wind-instrument acoustics is provided as a theoretical foundation to design, build, and use grafted wind instruments. The generic wind instrument is described by a tone generator that is coupled to two adjacent resonators, the instrument’s body and the performer’s vocal tract. As a starting point, the acoustical behavior of a simple cylindrical resonator is examined, and the acoustical consequences of finger holes are discussed. The investigation continues with the introduction of the conical resonator, which describes the acoustical behavior of the saxophone body adequately but is acoustically more complex than the cylindrical resonator. In the following section, common tone generators for wind instruments are introduced and classified. The section includes a description of the acoustical behavior for the single reed, double reed, free reed, flute, and lip-valve instrument mechanisms. Afterward, the coupling between a tone generator and a resonator is addressed, which can only be described as a non-linear system. The chapter concludes with a description of the acoustical behavior of the adaptable vocal tract. Its acoustical importance is often underestimated when dealing with wind instruments.
Jonas Braasch

Chapter 3. Extended Techniques for the Saxophone

Abstract
The extended range of the saxophone above the normal range is called the altissimo range, which means “very high” in Italian. On the soprano saxophone, the altissimo range starts with the note G\(_6\), in B\(^\flat \) saxophone notation, and ends, depending on the player’s skill level, generally up to D\(_7\). The notes in this range are called high notes or top notes. It is frequently thought that the notes of the altissimo range can be reached by applying extraordinarily high lip pressure, but the key of playing these notes is really rooted in the correct formation of the vocal tract.
Jonas Braasch

Chapter 4. Deep Listening

Abstract
This chapter focuses on the Deep Listening philosophy, which was founded by avant-garde composer Pauline Oliveros as a result of her lifetime career that started in the 1950s. One of the features that make Deep Listening very interesting for this book is that Pauline was an excellent improviser and accordion virtuoso and that she viewed improvisation as a core creative act and not just as a form of interpretation of a composer’s score. While free improvisation can liberate the participants from slavishly adhering to the preconceived directions of a composer, it requires a thorough set of listening skills that methods like Deep Listening foster.
Jonas Braasch

Chapter 5. Grafted Instruments

Abstract
In this chapter, the use of different tone generators for the soprano saxophone will be discussed. These mouthpiece variations include the use of the saxophone neck as rim flute, a didjeridu adapter, a bawu free reed, a duduk reed, a bassoon reed, and a brass cornett mouthpiece. The primary goal of utilizing these tone generators is to make the soprano saxophone a more versatile instrument were it sound and playability as was discussed at the end of the last chapter. At the same time, we inherit a number of different musical traditions from the original instruments, which we can adapt to the saxophone. These cultural ancestors can provide insight into various musical traditions that one can draw from. By using these mouthpieces of indigenous and modern instruments, one can connect better to these traditions than by just imitating these sounds on the regular saxophone. Yet, this hybrid approach also maintains a close relationship with the saxophone by generally providing the same fingering patterns and key combinations one is used to.
Jonas Braasch

Chapter 6. The Sonic Circle

Abstract
In this chapter, we will discuss how we can organize all the grafted instruments into a broader context. As an example, we will discuss a framework to define the relationships between the different instrument variations. The framework will be based on the idea of creating a large portfolio of different sounds and styles. Instead of looking for the one, iconic sound, we will explore how we can diversify our musical identity into several unique voices. Using the concept of internal diversity, a performer can draw and benefit from both intuitive and rational approaches to music. To achieve this goal, we will use the non-judgmental approach we discussed in the context of the Deep Listening philosophy in Chap. 4.
Jonas Braasch

Chapter 7. Sound Radiation, Recording, and Environment

Abstract
Recording a wind instrument can pose a real challenge, and audio engineers have debated for many years how to best capture the essence of an instrument using one or two closely positioned microphones. The problem is that a wind instrument radiates sound in every single direction, and it has a unique sound character in each of these directions. The best microphone placement is usually determined by considering the following aspects: Firstly, the microphone should be placed in a position where the sound-pressure levels of the individual notes are balanced throughout the tonal range of the instrument. Secondly, the sound engineer should aim to find a point that represents a balanced frequency spectrum in general. For example, this spot should preserve the right mix between the low and high-frequency components of the instrument, while keeping this balance stable across the tonal range of the instrument. Thirdly, the microphone should be positioned to reject unwanted sounds in the recording optimally. For example, when recording the saxophone rim flute, one should avoid recording the direct breathing hiss produced by the jet stream. When recording the instrument in the context of an ensemble, the microphone should be placed so as to isolate the wind instrument from other instruments.
Jonas Braasch

Chapter 8. Epilogue

Abstract
The methods described in this book should be treated as a starting point rather than as a presentation of the complete teaching method. The interested reader will probably gain more insight by using this book as the motivation and inspiration to develop their own concept rather than following this book as a step-by-step teaching method. I hope I was able to convince the reader that it is possible to equip a wind instrument with different sound generators and to perform with these adaptations at a high proficiency level. I do not see a reason why this concept should not be adaptable to other wind instruments, for example, the tenor saxophone or the trombone.
Jonas Braasch

Backmatter

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