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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all

I am a "weekend warrior" sax player, and my day job for the last 30+ years has been designing audio electronics and writing audio algorithms. Since I'm approaching my retirement years, I undertook a project that combines my hobby and my expertise.
The problem I am trying to solve is to bring more science to questions like

1) "I want to A/B compare two mouthpieces; I know they sound different, but I would like to compare the harmonics so I know exactly HOW they are different"
2) "Does that ligature really make a difference?"
3) "Is this horn/mouthpiece combination in tune across all registers?"
4) "Is my embouchure solid, or does my pitch wander as I hold a note?"

The program I have written takes in two short recordings of a sax or other similar instrument. The first recording is the "reference", after which you make some change (mouthpiece, ligature, or even a brand-new horn) and then make a 2nd recording.

The software takes each recording, does a pitch detection, separates each recording into individual notes, and derives the harmonic amplitudes of each note. It then looks for notes that are common between the two recordings, and for each common note it compares the harmonic amplitudes. This should tell you in great detail about exactly where they are the same, and where they are different, rather than relying on vague descriptions.

There is no requirement that the two recordings contain the exact same song or timing of the notes, although for best consistency it's probably a good idea to play the same scale into each recording.

When the program is done, it writes a pdf file with pretty pictures for each common note, including both the harmonic spectrum as well as the pitch versus time for the duration of the note. An example is attached below.

View attachment jazzsel_runyon.pdf

I have made the program as well as a README file available for download from my DropBox. It runs only on MACs at the moment. It's a command-line program that runs in the terminal window (primitive, I know; I'm better at algorithms than coding!). If someone is motivated to make a cool app out of it, let me know. I have no commercial ambitions here, it's just a retirement hobby project.

I hope someone may find this useful. I actually think it would be pretty cool if mouthpiece reviewers started publishing such data relative to a "reference" setup; over time, you cold build up a database, and group mouthpieces into buckets where they should all have very similar sounds, although it may not be in the commercial interests of manufacturers to allow such comparisons, as it tends to poke holes in the flowery language used to describe the experience of using their product :)

Bob Adams
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