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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a project in the works that may be of interest to some readers: I've been working on an adaptation of a Tenor Sax to be played with the Left Hand ONLY. The project is nearing completion, with maybe a couple months left. Here's a link to a "set" of photos on flickr showing the work-in-progress.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/flute_russell/sets/72157629733569913/

Brian Russell
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Glad you've found it interesting.

The instrument is for Charlie Borzillire, in Western NY. He was a fixture in that regional music scene for many years, until being sidelined by a stroke in 2004.
I probably should have posted something when I completed the first horn I worked on for him. That one was an early Bundy Tenor, with limited modifications to give him range down to E with the left hand. You'll find some pictures of it here: The last picture in that set shows him playing that instrument in a New Horizon's Band. You can hear his first public performance on it here: He is really looking forward to the completion of the job on his Mk6, and I am happy to have been able to do the work for him.

Brian Russell

PS: To answer a couple questions: I'm a repair tech located in Winneconne, WI. Posting the pictures of what I'm doing is as close to making 'plans' available as I can do. It is one-of-a-kind, custom work. I am hopeful that putting it out there as I have will help others who might need to do something similar.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I've attached a fingering chart for this system, which will surely aid in understanding how the horn works. There are a couple things in it that need revision/correction (side key location, B&B-flat orientation, Palm E location) but I think it'll get the idea across. It bears a resemblance to the right-hand-only system developed by Jeff Stelling/David Nabb, who have been encouraging throughout this process.

If anyone has ideas about how to make the chart more legible, I'd appreciate the input.

Brian
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 · (Edited)
Thank you very much for the information. Looking online, I found that one is an available back issue, but it doesn't list the article you mention in the contents. I'll check the archives at a local university.

Brian

Edit: I found this article about a player of an instrument modified by Mr. Theodus. http://www.hartfordinfo.org/issues/documents/health/htfd_courant_052708_1.asp
It sounds like the modification is probably similar to the one I did on the Bundy. If you can give the left hand control over the right hand E & F, you have a fully chromatic instrument with over 2 octaves available. This is a pretty practical modification, really, but it has its limitations. Rectangle Font Parallel Slope Circle
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Thanks for the kind words and the links. Having all this info in one place could certainly be helpful to someone in the future, so I'll add a couple more pointers. There are some more videos (including some other adaptations) posted that have been compiled by David Nabb on his You-Tube Channel. Lots of information there.

As mentioned, my system bears some resemblance to the Stelling/Nabb 'Toggle Key' system, but without the toggle keys. If I'm understanding it right, Maarten Visser's system is somewhat similar in concept (though not in execution) to the Conn F Mezzo. Stefan Tiefenbacher has a Right-Hand-Only tenor modified by Martin Foag that is significantly different. All of these people (and MANY more) have been encouraging to me through the project, and I am indebted to all of them.

Brian
 

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Discussion Starter · #21 ·
Thanks Daniel!

That's a good suggestion. The mental association of fingerings to notes on a staff is a lot stronger than associating them with verbal descriptions of the notes. It's as if it needs to go through a "translation" to make the connection. That may be even more of an issue for Charlie, since the area in his brain that processes speech was affected by his stroke. I'll work on figuring how to manage the graphics to do that. If anyone has a bit of guidance regarding how go about it, I'd appreciate it. I'm also considering replacing the CAD-generated graphic depictions of the keywork with photographs with the active keys higlighted, but I don't quite know how to do that either.

By the way, I was pleased to see the video of the duet reading session you posted. You've made good progress on your horn!

Brian
 

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Discussion Starter · #24 ·
Paul,

You raise a good point. My hope is that showing what I've done will help others who have similar needs. That's why I posted the information.

Shortly after my client had his stroke, the search began on how to get him an instrument he could play with one hand. If you were to undertake a search like that, you'd find that many roads point back to David Nabb & Jeff Stelling, as what they have done has been very successful and more publicized than other efforts. Jeff Stelling was approached about this project, but had to decline it due to other commitments. Eventually, through a string of referrals, I was contacted. Searching out prior efforts was the first order of business when I was considering undertaking the project.

At that time, David Nabb was hosting a forum on adaptive instruments, through the University of Nebraska at Kearney (where he teaches). This was a great source of information and contacts. Unfortunately, the forum was eventually shut down, due to problems with computer hackers. David has gathered quite a lot of information on adaptive instruments (especially woodwinds), and has become a bit of an authority on the subject. He is happy to share information with anyone it can benefit. There have been a few threads on this forum as well, discussing instruments Jeff Stelling built for him and for Daniel Stover, as well as the ones built by Maarten Visser and the Conn F-mezzo soprano. The horns of Rashaan Roland Kirk have also been mentioned a few times on this forum. (notably here: http://forum.saxontheweb.net/showthread.php?100281-One-hand-sax!&highlight=Stritch) I'm a bit surprised that I haven't found mention of Stefan Tiefenbacher here. Here's a link to a (German-Language) video about his amazing story and some of his music:
.

I'm aware of 4 (living) technicians (myself included) who have undertaken the task of providing a mechanism to control the full range of a saxophone with only one hand. Each of these instruments is unique. (There are also many unique examples of 'minor' modifications, that don't facilitate the full range of the horn.) All of the 'full-range' instruments that I'm aware of that have been completed (7) are for the right hand. Jeff Stelling also has a left-hand model currently in progress, and I hope that he may find some of what I have done to be helpful. I certainly found his work inspiring when I began this project.

If you have ideas about other avenues that would be useful to make the information more widely available, I'd be happy to hear them.

Brian
 

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Discussion Starter · #26 ·
You'll have to be patient for videos of a 'skilled player' on my project horn. I hope to post something short with me playing it, after it is completed. I'm sure it will take Charlie a while to get familiar enough with it for a performance. In the mean time, you'll have to content yourself watching David Nabb, Daniel Stover, & Stefan Tiefenbacher on their instruments.

As for showing how the mechanism works on my system, I think the photos and descriptions I have posted provide that information pretty well. If there are specific questions about anything, I'm happy to discuss it.

There is no need to worry about a conspiracy theory suppressing information. The Adaptive Instruments forum was hacked because hackers are vandals. Someone saw a weakness and exploited it. It is totally the opposite mentality of those who are trying to help someone with a disability to be able to make music. Nobody is getting rich making adaptations to peoples' instruments. The work is time consuming and tedious. It's not nearly as profitable as work that can be 'churned out' in familiar territory. But enabling people to play their instruments again is a very big deal to anyone who might pursue such an undertaking.

Brian
 

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Discussion Starter · #27 ·
So, the fingering chart attached earlier was made before starting the physical work on the project. The computer-modeled graphic representation of the keys leaves a bit to the imagination. I'm considering replacing those images with pictures showing the actual mechanism, with dots indicating where each finger interacts, similar to this attachment. I think it will be an improvement to compile a chart with images like this for each fingering with corresponding images of notes on a staff. I would be pleased to get any input regarding how well this communicates, or suggestions about how to improve it.

Thanks,

Brian
 

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Discussion Starter · #29 ·
Well, I have a video about the horn posted now. There's a bit of a "shop tour", images of the instrument, a description of the mechanism, and a (mercifully short) section of me playing the instrument. (I've never been heard playing a saxophone in public before, but thought it worth embarrassing myself to demonstrate that it can actually be played…) I'm hopeful that Charlie will be posting something with him playing it sometime.

Here's a link:

Brian
 

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Discussion Starter · #33 · (Edited)
Glad you came across the thread, and found it interesting. It was a great project, and I'm looking forward to a follow up visit with the player this Fall.

There have been a few inquiries about modifying another instrument like this, but nothing definite yet. I'm hopeful that there will be more people who will benefit from it. It could certainly be used in interesting ways in a 'novelty' setting, but the primary intent was to help someone with a difficulty to keep making music.

I've added a page to my website with a bit more information about the horn, including the final version of the fingering chart (.pdf download) and some pictures here: http://www.russellwinds.com/onehandsax.html

Brian
 

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Discussion Starter · #35 ·
Sorry to have been slow to reply. I don't get around much, anymore.

You asked: "...wondering if you had made any other modifications to your design since your original post in 2012?"

To be clear: the sax described here is a one-off. I haven't made more of them, and am not likely to.
I have made more limited modifications to many instruments, some of which incorporate principles developed for this instrument. Three of them have incorporated the "Palm E Key". I have made small changes to the design of that on each one.

You said: "I've been working on using micro solenoids to control the existing right hand keys"

That's great. I modified a trombone F-Attachment using a solenoid to actuate it. It wasn't easy. If you are having successful experiments, I think you're doing great. You can control them with switches placed however you want. Figuring ergonomic placement of the interface is where it all starts. The rest is just mechanics to make that work.

You asked about the layout of Low C to B-flat. IF I wanted to control that via solenoids all with a 'pinkie finger', I'd probably pattern it after the right pinkie on a Low-C Bass Clarinet. You could stack micro-switches in an arrangement like that where each key triggers the one adjacent to it, in addition to its own switch.


Best regards,

Brian
 
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