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Discussion Starter #1
Benade makes the claim that the frequencies above cut-off are a drain on the energy of the system because they do not participate in and contribute energy to the standing wave's "regime of oscillation" as he calls it.

Add to this thought the experience common to many players that playing certain saxophones, one reaches a brick wall in terms of volume and intensity, where no matter how hard they blow it won't play any "louder".

These ideas have led me to a theory or hypothesis that designing or creating a saxophone that inhibits the higher harmonics rather than reinforcing them would allow a player to produce a core sound with greater volume and intensity as they blow harder rather than just getting a sound that is brighter and edgier with no depth or real intensity.

This begs the question of how one would go about inhibiting but not eliminating the overtones of the notes produced on a saxophone.
 

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Benade makes the claim that the frequencies above cut-off are a drain on the energy of the system because they do not participate in and contribute energy to the standing wave's "regime of oscillation" as he calls it.

Add to this thought the experience common to many players that playing certain saxophones, one reaches a brick wall in terms of volume and intensity, where no matter how hard they blow it won't play any "louder".

These ideas have led me to a theory or hypothesis that designing or creating a saxophone that inhibits the higher harmonics rather than reinforcing them would allow a player to produce a core sound with greater volume and intensity as they blow harder rather than just getting a sound that is brighter and edgier with no depth or real intensity.

This begs the question of how one would go about inhibiting but not eliminating the overtones of the notes produced on a saxophone.
There are two issues here.

1. your theory - should we dispute it or not?
2. how to inhibit overtones above the cut-off frequency - we have to accept your theory as true for this to make any sense.

Which should we address?
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I would like to hear other's thoughts on both. I believe that my hypothesis can be defended using the laws of physics and logic. I am asking for a discussion here. I am not looking for an argument or a pissing contest to see who is the most knowledgeable about acoustics on this forum. You know, cooperation instead of competition. I am leaning toward the idea of "roughing up" certain areas inside the bore and/or neck to influence the presence and strength of certain harmonics.
 

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I would like to hear other's thoughts on both. I believe that my hypothesis can be defended using the laws of physics and logic. I am asking for a discussion here. I am not looking for an argument or a pissing contest to see who is the most knowledgeable about acoustics on this forum. You know, cooperation instead of competition. I am leaning toward the idea of "roughing up" certain areas inside the bore and/or neck to influence the presence and strength of certain harmonics.
The ultimate determining factor in how hard you blow/how much air goes past the reed, is the flow-control profile of the reed/mouthpiece combination, due more to mechanical considerations than harmonic. For any embouchure pressure and any blowing pressure, there is one point of maximum air volume-velocity passing through the reed/embouchure aperture. Increase the air pressure past that point, and volume-velocity decreases, as the reed begins to close off, regardless of how perfect the saxophone is acoustically.

I think the higher, non energy contributing harmonics are necessary for a nice saxophone sound - you can't get by without them. Their drain is the cost of making music on the saxophone. LOL. What you really want to ask is, how can I maximize the regime resonance co-operation within the unavoidable limitations of the reed/mouthpiece flow control dynamics.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Let's assume that the player blows at the point of maximum air volume into two similar saxophones using the same set-up. One has more volume and projection than the other. Doesn't this mean that the total energy put into the louder saxophone was used more efficiently and that less energy was lost or wasted than in the saxophone that did not play as loud? I'm not saying to remove the overtones entirely, but to minimize them and the energy they draw from the system to "empower" the standing wave.

I think we are both familiar with the high baffle mouthpieces that produce a bright edgy tone that has no core (balls) to the sound. This is what has led me to think along these lines. Perhaps the bore size of both brass instruments and saxophones has a lot to do with the total amount of sound energy that can be generated. I am now familiar with the fact that when brass players blow more air, the lip reed aperture opens rather than closes as in the case of the single reed saxophone.

Suppose one roughed up the inside of the neck where the first pressure antinodes of the higher frequencies are found. What do you think the effect of that would be?
 

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Well, right away you can "redesign" the bore of the sax to inhibit the higher harmonic content by using a "darker" mpc. This will decrease them at the source; no need to do anything to the horn.

My guess is that if you decrease the acoustic efficiency of the horn you won't gain anything in the end--something akin to decreasing the amount of cereal in the box by 10% and the price by the same amount, and then advertising that with the money saved you can afford to buy 10% more...

But the theory is interesting. Trying different mpcs and measuring SPL will give you an indication, though I think Lance is right that the reed/mpc and flow control curve will introduce other uncontrolled variables.
 

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If you record your saxophone in your DAW, slap on a 24db, low pass filter at 1kHz, cutting out the highs above the horn's own cut-off frequency, the sound, becomes dull and lifeless. All the exciting "zing" is from the free-loading high harmonics. The porous pad surface takes care of excessive highs. Too much resonator surface and the sound becomes overly bright, harsh, and response suffers. The highs are taken care of in a normally set-up horn. The efficiency you want is in the alignment, and proportional amplitudes of the regime harmonics.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I guess I haven't made myself clear because I keep reading about the undesirability of cutting out all the upper harmonics. That goes without saying, especially playing with a jazz or "pop" sound. That is not what I am suggesting at all.

Imagine an amplitude limiter that during a crescendo would allow the upper harmonics to grow to a certain db level and then stay fixed at that volume while the fundamental and first 2 or 3 harmonics are allowed to keep growing in volume and intensity. That is what my thought process entails. Is that possible? I don't know.
 

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I guess I haven't made myself clear because I keep reading about the undesirability of cutting out all the upper harmonics. That goes without saying, especially playing with a jazz or "pop" sound. That is not what I am suggesting at all.

Imagine an amplitude limiter that during a crescendo would allow the upper harmonics to grow to a certain db level and then stay fixed at that volume while the fundamental and first 2 or 3 harmonics are allowed to keep growing in volume and intensity. That is what my thought process entails. Is that possible? I don't know.
I understand. My point is, the horn already does that optimally. IMO, within limits of good taste, the louder the dynamic, the brighter we desire the sound to be. A static brightness level, just getting louder or softer, would be boring.
 

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jbtsax,

Related words included in the definition of harmonics are Partials or Overtones that are present in varying strengths along with a fundamental tone and which provide the tonal color of a note. The ear is usually not consciously aware of harmonics, but in certain cases where certain harmonics are especially strong (as in a bell tone or some organ stops), they may be clearly distinguishable, sounding along with and perhaps stronger than the fundamental note. Harmonics also provide the means for obtaining a chromatic scale in brass instruments. They are sometimes called for by composers for special effects, indicated by a small circle over a note.

There is a saxophone organ stop on the old fashioned pipe organ, and a brass instrument doesn't require a vibrating reed but instead the note is produced from vibrating the lips.
 

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I guess I haven't made myself clear because I keep reading about the undesirability of cutting out all the upper harmonics. That goes without saying, especially playing with a jazz or "pop" sound. That is not what I am suggesting at all.

Imagine an amplitude limiter that during a crescendo would allow the upper harmonics to grow to a certain db level and then stay fixed at that volume while the fundamental and first 2 or 3 harmonics are allowed to keep growing in volume and intensity. That is what my thought process entails. Is that possible? I don't know.
I cannot image any strictly physical mechanism by which only some harmonics could be limited in the manner you suggest, except for cutoff frequency ;)
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I understand. My point is, the horn already does that optimally. IMO, within limits of good taste, the louder the dynamic, the brighter we desire the sound to be. A static brightness level, just getting louder or softer, would be boring.
I think rather that making "we" statements which are presumptive at best, it is always better to use first person when making a subjective statement.

I'm not sure which styles that you play, but in my understanding louder does not necessarily mean brighter, harsher, or edgier---it simply means louder. That said, I am aware that at the lowest dynamic levels before the reed "beats" or closes off completely each cycle that there are virtually no harmonics present and that during a crescendo those harmonics are introduced. Up to that point I believe there is an advantage to the harmonics adding "color" and liveliness to the sound. My thinking is that there might be a tonal advantage in keeping the harmonics more in balance at the loudest levels making loud less bright and edgy and directing more of the overall energy to the fundamental and its "cooperative" lower harmonics in the standing wave.
 

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I think rather that making "we" statements which are presumptive at best, it is always better to use first person when making a subjective statement.
I'll stick with "we". The statement is not presumptuous in the least. That is exactly the way all wind instruments work/sound, including the human voice, and "we" certainly like them enough the way they are, to keep them around.

I'm not sure which styles that you play, but in my understanding louder does not necessarily mean brighter, harsher, or edgier---it simply means louder.
See above statement. The qualifier for my initial statement was "within limits of good taste". It appears that your concerns lie outside those parameters.

I think that quality wind instruments already do what you are suggesting, optimally. IMO, the "backing up" you are referring to is due to the reed/mouthpiece flow control limitations, and there's not much you can do about that. Reduce the highs any more, and the sound will suffer. I'd be interested in hearing audio samples of whatever you come up with though.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I for one do not like to hear a brighter sound as the volume grows. I like the sound to get bigger and "fatter", not brighter. Your inclusive pronoun "we" does not reflect my taste in sound---especially that of a large ensemble. "Good taste" is subjective as well. What you consider "good taste" is not necessarily the same as everyone else.
 

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I for one do not like to hear a brighter sound as the volume grows. I like the sound to get bigger and "fatter", not brighter. Your inclusive pronoun "we" does not reflect my taste in sound---especially that of a large ensemble. "Good taste" is subjective as well. What you consider "good taste" is not necessarily the same as everyone else.
Can you provide a recording of a wind instrument where the timbre doesn't change (get brighter) with an increase in dynamic level? I'd like to hear it.
 

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I suppose that we are all aware of the acoustic phenomenon whereby as volume increases, all partials (theoretically) grow as the square of their order. Therefore when the fundamental is twice as loud, the 2nd partial grows by 4x, the 3rd by 9x, 4th by 16x, etc--at least until the reed beats, when the growth of all is linear.

IIRC on sax the reed starts beating quite early, so after mf or so there should be no more harmonic growth. Of course the higher harmonic do still grow linearly. But maximum volume also seems to be limited by increasing turbulence, and by reed dynamics. I wonder also how much mpc geometry matters in this regard.
 

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I think that to a certain extent, a sax can be viewed as a "filter" applied to the air pressure coming from the mouthpiece. If you look at it this way, then you can say that a saxophone that exhibits a low output of overtones is filtering the high-frequency components at the output of the mouthpiece. From an energy point of view, this means that pads and the body of the sax are absorbing energy at high frequencies and turning this energy it into heat. Therefore a sax with low-amplitude overtones should be less efficient, not more. So I don't agree that the extra energy of overtones is taking away energy from the lower-frequencies; you are producing that energy anyway, and it's just a matter of whether or not you throw it away.

Speaking of high overtones, I am always amazed by how my perception of my own playing, and my enjoyment of a particular gig is completely related to how well I can hear myself. In addition, I find that I really only need to hear the higher harmonics in order to relax and play well. If you take those harmonics away then I find I automatically over-blow and become fatigued.

Bob
 
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