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hakukani said:
If a truck passes and you have your hands on a table, the table may be vibrating, but you hear the truck, not the table. However, you will feel the vibrations of the table
You hear the truck? Are you serious? The truck isn't making any sound... by your own argument, the truck is setting up vibrations in the air that you hear as sound...and the table is transmitting soundless sympathetic vibrations that can be felt but not heard...unless you're conducting a seance, then the table will talk to you...you've heard the table talk to you, haven't you?:?
 

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brassnaked said:
You hear the truck? Are you serious? The truck isn't making any sound... by your own argument, the truck is setting up vibrations in the air that you hear as sound...and the table is transmitting soundless sympathetic vibrations that can be felt but not heard...unless you're conducting a seance, then the table will talk to you...you've heard the table talk to you, haven't you?:?
It's only a metaphor, but you could look at it like this... the engine inside the truck is making the noise, it's not causing the whole truck to make the noise. I realise this metaphor only stretches so far and personally I prefer my "hang a sax up and hit it" example :D
 

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I don't believe in that a couple of layers of lacquer makes a difference, that a bit of silver plating does, that nickel plating, which is as about as thin as it gets, makes any difference either. However, when it comes to some of the newer horns that have 5 layers of epoxy baked lacquer before the engraving is applied and two more layers after, then at some point you do end up with a grafton with a thin layer of brass inside and that I do think makes a difference. If the material of the sax doesn't matter at all (and seven layers of lacquer is material), then I don't understand how the solid nickel silver saxes sound so different from the brass horns with same physical dimensions and setup. They do. Give it a try.
 

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This question has been nagging at me for a while so I figured I would get to the bottom. I am probably one of the few people on this forum with access to a top University physics and material sciences department.

I consulted a couple of professors from a couple of different fields (physics, material science, particle physics). The answers I got were all fairly similar. The gist was, "are you nuts?"

Long story short, brass vibrates... a lot (hint, thats why they make instruments out of brass). It vibrates more than enough to overcome whatever vibration inhibiting properties of lacquer. In a select few cases, it is possible that if a weak brass or a thin sheet of brass is used in conjunction with an abnormal amount of lacquer, the sound could be dampened.

Basically, it is possible that the lacquer on certain models could dampen the sound particularly at low volumes and low vibration levels. However, on the vast majority of saxes, lacquer should have little or no effect.
 

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So you did not consult the acoustic scientist also, who could have told you also, that the volume of what we hear represents the AMPLITUDE of vibration of the source. And that the amplitude of vibration of the metal itself is irrelevantly small compared with the amplitude of the vibration of the air in the sax, no matter the thickness or presence of the lacquer.

But there are people here who diss anything remotely related to science. It is part of the human condition for many people, to put more faith in beliefs and subjective impressions than in science.
 

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one of the problems with scientists is that they are men or women like any other (even if knowledgeable and informed) before they start applying scietifical method to something , so , like many, they think that they can assume, before of testing or looking at the problem in depth and by using experimental method (which is the only science since Galileo a scientist should know...), that it stands to reason that the material which is used to make an instrument (or coat it!) plays a part in the process of sound making because they all assume, as it has been said, that the saxophone would vibrate like a bell, while forgetting that the vibrating part is the reed. of course the material, which shapes and amplifies the air coulmn, vibrates too but these are minute vibrations not producing much in the manner of audible sound (as it is demonstrated by the sax as a gong experiment :D ).
However, science is measurament not impressions or preconceptual ideas. Maybe someone, somewhere, would take the time to do this and start measuring exactly what happens on a levelled experimental situation with same reed, same blowing implement (doesn't need to be a person can be a machine) which includes mouthpiece(s) and then the same sax with different coatings or different materials (it would be nice to have the same sax but it won't be possible) and then measure sound and see what the influence of this that and the other is or is not. Until then.........unicuique suum, to each his own!
 

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I happen to have an completely checked to perfection mark VI alto that was later gold plated and overhauled at the same time because it is required to have an overhaul if you plate it. Actually, I plated the Neck first and found that I like the result of it, then I plated the rest of the horn. Believe it or not, it made a difference in the resonance and the color of the sound. I have First hand experience! I guess it's one of those thing like.. if you've never seen a ghost you won't believe ghost exists, but if you've seen one or a couple then you know that it exists! =D
 

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experience is by definition a personal thing but it is a thing that needs to be measured to have any objective value, too many factors can influence your " experience" , some of which might or might not be true for the rest of the world around you.
 

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In response to the original post:

My Conn has about 30% of the original lacquer and is not the prettiest looking horn.
However, my friends love the sound, my tech loves the sound and most importantly, I love the sound.

As the saying goes,

If it ain't broke ..... don't fix it!
 

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milandro said:
snip

However, science is measurament not impressions or preconceptual ideas. Maybe someone, somewhere, would take the time to do this and start measuring exactly what happens on a levelled experimental situation with same reed, same blowing implement (doesn't need to be a person can be a machine) which includes mouthpiece(s) and then the same sax with different coatings or different materials (it would be nice to have the same sax but it won't be possible) and then measure sound and see what the influence of this that and the other is or is not. Until then.........unicuique suum, to each his own!
And this has been done--time and again--for the past 150 years--employing air-tight methodology such as Coltman's classic experiment in the 70s and the recent experiment by Linortner with seven identical flutes in different materials, as well as many, many other experiments specifically designed to test whether the materials of woodwind and/or brass instruments could possibly make a perceptible contribution to the total radiated sound or response. And every experiment, without fail, has demonstrated that, indeed, it does not, and physically cannot. So it is not a question of "to each his own", but rather whether one wants to live in this physical reality or some fantasy.

"Libenter homines id quod volunt credunt." ~ Men gladly believe that which they wish for.----Caesar

Toby
 

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Gordon (NZ) said:
But there are people here who diss anything remotely related to science. It is part of the human condition for many people, to put more faith in beliefs and subjective impressions than in science.
I am a scientist...or at least I make a living claiming to be one. I am always amazed at the kind of faith non-scientist put in science (and I am not talking mathematics). I don't know much about acoustics but I would like to hear from experts in unison trying to explain to me how to setup definitive experiments to quantify the character of sound as perceived by the human ear and brain without the usual shortcuts that are used in physical and biological sciences. There better not be a microphone anywhere along the way or an equation that is an approximation. Cheers.
 

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brasscane said:
I am a scientist...or at least I make a living claiming to be one. I am always amazed at the kind of faith non-scientist put in science (and I am not talking mathematics). I don't know much about acoustics but I would like to hear from experts in unison trying to explain to me how to setup definitive experiments to quantify the character of sound as perceived by the human ear and brain without the usual shortcuts that are used in physical and biological sciences. There better not be a microphone anywhere along the way or an equation that is an approximation. Cheers.
If you are a scientist then you must be familiar with Popper's principle of falsification. Science can never prove anything; all it can do is to set up ever more sophisticated models which it then attempts to disprove. When a theory is found wanting, then another theory must be put forward which integrates whatever new information has been experimentally verified. As long as that new theory correlates with observation there is no need (nor indeed any way) to refine it. And your sophist trick is noted: Just because pi is an irrational number does not mean that we cannot employ an approximation to get practical results in the real world. Insisting on absolutes stops everything in its tracks.

If you have been following this long and tiresome rehash of acoustics through its many threads, you will have become aware that scientists have clearly quantified the contribution of wall vibrations to the overall sound radiated by the instrument. There are effects, which, however, are below the threshold of human perception. Thresholds of human perception are measurable. Scientific instruments have ranges, and can be engineered to be much more sensitive than human instruments.

The usual argument at this point is that humans somehow have magical synthetic abilities--as parallel processors able to integrate information from many inputs, they have capacities beyond those of any individual scientific instrument in isolation, designed to measure only a single parameter. While human integative abilities are marvellous, it does not change the fact that unless one can demonstrate interactive effects between the various phenomena being investigated, then the point is moot. Then it is enough use a range of experiments to investigate all possible variables in isolation.

Historically, makers and players consistently claim to be able to perceive differences based on wall materials. Scientists have been investigating possible mechanisms for such a claim, and have, without fail, been unable to demonstrate how this could be. Coltman thought he knew a possible mechanism, and did a very clever double-blind experiment in the 1970s in which he first gave a number of players flutes made in three different materials (wood, copper and silver) in a normal setting. He reported that nearly all of them had definite preferences, and could even describe the differences they consistently perceived between the various instruments. He then removed all visual and tactile clues as to which instrument was which (I won't describe his methodology--links to the full text of the experiment have been posted here several times), and the players were dumbfounded to find that they could no longer tell the instruments apart. They were asked to state which was which after playing the instruments randomly, and their answers were statistically no better than random guesses.

Linortner's experiment with seven identical flutes is also methodologically quite sound, and demonstrates minimal differences between flutes in different materials.

Employing Occam's razor, it is pretty clear what conclusions should be reached.

Of course there is the possibility that some further experiment may upset the whole apple cart. The matter is not closed, but this is not rocket science: the physical properties of materials is pretty well understood, as are the acoustics involved--even if the complexity of the math makes it impossible to go beyond approximation. The present state of knowledge in these areas lead to predictable and repeatable results in a wide variety of fields and applications. It is a bit ludicrous to believe that only in the limited area of woodwind acoustics these physical laws somehow do not apply.

Toby
 

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brasscane said:
I am a scientist...or at least I make a living claiming to be one. I am always amazed at the kind of faith non-scientist put in science (and I am not talking mathematics). I don't know much about acoustics but I would like to hear from experts in unison trying to explain to me how to setup definitive experiments to quantify the character of sound as perceived by the human ear and brain without the usual shortcuts that are used in physical and biological sciences. There better not be a microphone anywhere along the way or an equation that is an approximation. Cheers.

Does that mean we can't use statistics?

And why not a microphone? That's easy to control for.
 

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doesn't matter what you try to explain with science and stuff.. In fact, you just said science doens't prove anything.. So many players including the professionals find the differences and that's why they choose these certain horns. Famous players like Delangle and Sugawa plays different finishes because they sound different!!! And, someone please make a saxophone out of cheese and play it for me.. that stuff doens't work.. cheese?? common.
 

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NatureColor said:
doesn't matter what you try to explain with science and stuff.. In fact, you just said science doens't prove anything.. So many players including the professionals find the differences and that's why they choose these certain horns. Famous players like Delangle and Sugawa plays different finishes because they sound different!!! And, someone please make a saxophone out of cheese and play it for me.. that stuff doens't work.. cheese?? common.
Yep, that 'science and stuff' just don't work.;) The earth is flat. Prove that's not true.

You believe what you want. I get my truth, you get yours.--yeah right.

In a previous thread someone made a sax out of cardboard. It still sounded like a sax.

Anecdotal evidence proves nothing. Read a good book about psychology, especially the strength of something called expectation effects. Maybe something about sensation and perception. Use google scholar.
 

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Yes card board, and news paper will work because they are hard enough to make that conical shape. But do they really sound like a saxophone? in some way yes, but you can tell the easily tell that it is not a saxophone.
 

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NatureColor said:
Yes card board, and news paper will work because they are hard enough to make that conical shape. But do they really sound like a saxophone? in some way yes, but you can tell the easily tell that it is not a saxophone.

Actually it's relatively easy to fool people in this way. For example, record a couple of piano notes. Edit out the attack. Most people can no longer tell that it's a piano.

Try it with other instruments.

The timbre of sustained (ie without the attack) notes is amazingly similar between instruments.
 

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NatureColor said:
Yes card board, and news paper will work because they are hard enough to make that conical shape. But do they really sound like a saxophone? in some way yes, but you can tell the easily tell that it is not a saxophone.
Galway played a concrete flute behind a curtain, and no one could tell that it was not a metal flute.

Yes, there are conditions: the material must have a certain minimum hardness and smoothness. After that it really doesn't matter.

Toby
 

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kymarto said:
Galway played a concrete flute behind a curtain, and no one could tell that it was not a metal flute.

Yes, there are conditions: the material must have a certain minimum hardness and smoothness. After that it really doesn't matter.

Toby
Precisely. Brass wasn't chosen for wind instruments because of it's inherent musical qualities as was suggested earlier, it was chosen because it is the best material to form instruments from - it's malleable, it's strong, it doesn't shatter (just dents) and it's repairable, etc.

naturecolor said:
And, someone please make a saxophone out of cheese and play it for me.. that stuff doens't work.. cheese?? common.
The cheese reference was purely to make the point that in fact any material that can be formed into the right shape and will stay that way on it's own will do (I thought that was fairly obvious) hence the Grafton for example. It just so happens that brass is the ideal material for mechanical reasons, not for tone. A cheese sax would be very difficult and very, very pointless to make but it could be done if someone really, really wanted to, plus of course you'd get a healthy and nutritious snack during the break between sets.

Read Kymarto's excellent post a couple of replies earlier and go and check out the experiments he mentions plus all the other basic stuff about wind instruments and how they produce sound that's out there, it's really fascinating stuff. Approach this with an open mind, forget about preconceptions and read the evidence with an open mind, it's very interesting and I actually think it's also helpful for musicianship (though only in a very marginal way).
 

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Science aside, I think there is another perspective that has validity in this discussion. That is the feel, response, and perceived sound to the performer on the instrument. That is what matters the most, not whether the subjects in a double blind study can pick out the gold or platinum flute.

Performers and artists choose instruments that sound and feel right to them! Whether the tone of the instrument is perceptively different than an identical instrument with a different plating or finish to someone else standing 20 feet away is irrelevant!

All of the scientific studies I have read about make the assumption that all human beings senses are exactly the same. Do we all hear sounds exactly the same way, see colors exactly the same? Are taste buds and sense of touch identical for all of us?

If my individual perception is that my silver plated Yamaha Custom tenor has a tone and response that is closer to my concept of how I want to sound than a lacquered one, then that is my reality and my choice and quite frankly my business. I am tired of the "scientists" implying that I am either stupid, incompetent, or self deceived when I can choose A over B because I can hear and feel a perceptible difference. If this means that I still think the earth is flat, so be it. When I spent 6 weeks in Kansas --- IT WAS.
 
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