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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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Thanks Brian. Just last week I was at the University of Houston to talk to the saxophone studio and show them my horn and played a short duet with Dan Gelok. I was a bit nervous playing for a bunch of real saxophonists. We didn't even get to run through the duet to get a feel for eachother's playing. I had no warmup and there was no tuning. And in hindsight, I should have raised the stand so I could see better. But all-in-all it went not too bad and was well received.

Yes, if Charlie's speech center was affected, it might be easier to process visually. I had the Visser recorder just about 8 moths after my stroke. While my speech wasn't necessarily affected, other than the weakness on my left side, My cognition was bit wonky and certain things took me some time to recover. Perhaps if I had the recorder now, I wouldn't have as hard of a time correlating the fingering scheme.
 

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Here's a question none of the techs might have thought of: This work has been duplicated, typically without thorough knowledge of others' work. Impressive tho it is, how much of it is reinventing the wheel?
 

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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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Maybe YouTube videos would be a good bet for showing how the mech works and hearing what a skilled player can do.

Hearing that your forum was hacked frankly makes me suspicious that someone with knowledge of instrument repair didn't want the sharing going on. There's an old craft tradition that one man's helpful hints are another's livelihood gone down the drain.

SOTW Forum to some extent leaves that tradition behind, as does the idea of sharing things online. If you think about it, there's no need to give away trade secrets when making your work public. Everybody ought to consider doing it if they want to profit, or even if they just want to help different-abled players.
 

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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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Wow, I am so glad I decided to go digging through the archives. This is SICK! Have you done any additional modifications of horns just like this?

I would be very surprised to see the Saxophone player from Maldita Vecindad's reaction if he saw this. While many people do it, he is known for several of their songs, playing alto and tenor simultaneously, and I would loved to see him perform solos (duets, really ;) )on one of these babies.

How many additional orders have you received since you have completed this masterpiece?

BTW, if you haven't heard it enough from others, you deserve either a fine place in heaven, or a cold seat in hell - whichever one has the hottest chicks.
 

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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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Hi Brian,

I just found this thread and was wondering if you had made any other modifications to your design since your original post in 2012?

I lost the use of my right arm in a motorcycle accident in 1991, which pretty much put an end to my woodwind playing.
Over the years, I've dabbled with the side keys and been able to play a few tunes, but always found the restrictive range and missing the lower notes very irritating. I've taken up trumpet and trombone since the accident (I got the use of the bicep back), but (for me) they are no replacement for playing sax.

I've seen the work by David Nabb with his one handed adaptions, which got me working on my own attempt at a left hand only sax.

As I don't have access to a machine shop, I've been working on using micro solenoids to control the existing right hand keys.

I'm almost there with the lower D E F keys, which I should be able to control using micro switches attached to the left hand G A B keys (sliding the fingers over the keys similar to the mechanical method used by you and David.

I had a plan to control the lower D# key using a switch somewhere near the G# key (operated with the left hand little finger), but having seen how you are controlling some keys with the left thumb, I might toy with putting the D# switch on the register key.

My main problem will be the lower C - Bb, which I'd really like to achieve. I was thinking of placing a switch or two under the C#, B, and Bb (left hand little finger) keys that would automatically power the solenoid on the lower C key (I'm sure this will be doable), but I'm unsure where best to place the switch for just the lower C that would give me a smooth transition from C to C# / B / Bb and vice versa.

I noticed from your design that you moved the C#, B, and Bb to the left thumb and placed the C under the control of the little finger. This is not something I can do with my solenoid method, so was wondering if you had made any other adaptions where C - Bb were all controlled by the little finger? And if so, how you lay them out?

Any ideas or suggestions gratefully received.

Simon
 

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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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Impressive !

I particularly like the low B and Bb as secondary 'octave' keys (like the low A on baritone).
I even wonder why all saxes don't have these 2 keys over there... technical/mechanical difficulty ?

Good to know both (left hand and right hand) versions do exist !
 
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