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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm a highschooler looking for a science fair project that has to do with sax, any suggestions?
 

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Prove/demonstrate, one way or the other, whether or not material makes a difference in tone! Man, do that and you'll get the SOTW Nobel Peace Prize!! :argue: :D :cheers:
 

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Matt, what a great idea. I did a high school science fair project on the acoustics of our school auditorium and I am still interested in acoustics 40 years later. My suggestion would be to go to this website http://www.phys.unsw.edu.au/~jw/saxacoustics.html#acousticimpedance and learn all you can about saxophone acoustics first and then see if that generates any ideas for projects or experiments. Good luck.

John
 

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You need to assign a well-defined and simple project with room for the student to grow depending on his/her skills.

Best to start with the physics of sound waves, standing waves in a pipe, longitudinal vs transverse waves, show how the wavelength of the standing wave determines the pitch, which is in term is determined by the size and spacing of the key holes. Then the student could get into the overtone series and the superposition of waves to explain why a sax sounds so complex (and pleasant). At the end, the difference between a conical and cylindrical bore of an instrument should be explained, which is key to the success of saxophones in the history of music because the conical shape gives the musician a large freedom of expression. If you need more inspiration, check out this web site.
 

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Uh, well, I guess the materials experiment/demonstration will have to wait until Matt gets the basic acoustical theory down, huh? :( Oh, well, it'll still be interesting to see the advice and what he decides upon. Keep us posted!!:) and good luck as well!!

Details, details! It's always in the details :!:
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
thanks for the ideas. my teacher is very particular about the project. he has already rejected 2 (non-sax) ideas of mine. the project can't just be explaining something, it has to be an experiment (and can't be very common). The acoustics of the auditorium might work, but i'd really like to do something more specific to sax. i do have a clarinet i can destroy if anyone has ideas about that...
 

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Incorporate changing the size of the hole with Franks length of the tube/pitch idea. Both the size of the tone hole and the height of the tonehole could be changed. Throw in resonators and measure SPL or just listen for changes in tone quality.

PVC pipe and a hole saw would be easily accessible materials for this experiment and keeping on a budget.
 

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Matt C said:
thanks for the ideas. my teacher is very particular about the project. he has already rejected 2 (non-sax) ideas of mine. the project can't just be explaining something, it has to be an experiment (and can't be very common). The acoustics of the auditorium might work, but i'd really like to do something more specific to sax. i do have a clarinet i can destroy if anyone has ideas about that...
There is a donut shaped saxophone mute that was used by some of the French school players such as Marcel Mule. There is a description of one and some pictures in the book "The Art of Saxophone Playing" by Larry Teal. The mute eliminates some of the high frequency overtones in the sound giving the sax a darker, more mellow tone. An experiment could be done to record the sax with and without the mute, and using an ocilliscope or sound spectograph measure the difference in the overtones produced on notes in different registers of the sax. Just an idea.

John
 

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Maybe he could settle this issue once and for all - "Does the saxophone have a parabolic bore?"

If you use the search function, you'll see how heated this controversy has been on here in the past...
 

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Swingtone said:
Maybe he could settle this issue once and for all - "Does the saxophone have a parabolic bore?"

If you use the search function, you'll see how heated this controversy has been on here in the past...
"Sure. It has a parabolic bore!"

<Pete picks up a sax and smashes it over $random_poster's head.>

"There ya go. Ya see: the sax has parabolic shape, now!"

==========

* The experiment regarding material impacting tone for a saxophone is waaaaay too hard to test.
* Testing for a parabolic bore -- other than doing what I suggest above, of course -- is something that could only be determined by having access to lots of vintage instruments. Unlikely for a science fair.

I think the Frank/Carl H idea(s) would be the easiest to do something about. either that, or try to build a contrabass clarinet from PVC pipe (I think the plans were in Clarinet Symposium magazine, about 20 years ago) -- not that that would be easy, but it'd be interesting!

(jbt's idea is interesting, but the #1 problem with the "donut" mutes is that it causes the entire low end of your sax to go out of tune -- and the higher you go, the less the mute does anything. A sax isn't a trumpet and a sax mute can't work the same way.)
 

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Put a used reed in a petri dish and see what grows. Title: Sax and Hygiene.
 

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Dr G said:
Put a used reed in a petri dish and see what grows. Title: Sax and Hygiene.
Y'know, I've actually done this for science class. You just reminded me.

The result is toxic. And I ain't talking Britney Spears.

I'd change the title to "Safe Sax" and see if I didn't get expelled, tho.
 

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If you got some different mouthpieces, or different saxes (your clarinet would work fine) you could record them and do a frequency spectrum analysis. That way you and your fellow students can see how different kinds of sounds are built up by overtones. This could also be done on voices, male vs female, record your voice (or sax) and do another recording through a telephone etc. Lots of interesting stuff that is not very complicated.

I did my final project on this in high school. I measured my alto with (my) two different mouthpieces (jazz/legit), all four saxes, straight vs curved soprano neck and did some analysis and a discussion about the different graphs related to the sound samples.
Drop me a line if your interested in details. :)
 

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project

How about some sort of comparison of sound on a sax as you gradually cover the sax with some sort of material?

start with the neck record and analyze

Remove upper stack and cover upper body with matrial CAREFULLY PRESERVING SPRINGS, PIVOT POINTS, TONE HOLE EDGES and areas where the stacks touch the body.
play, record, analyze

Do the Bottom stack area with the same procedure and then the bell.

What type of material? I would consider something that can be sprayed or easily brushed on. insulation? cement? auto body puddy?

I am no scientist but it is just a thought.

HUTMO
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Thanks guys, i finally got a project approved, figuring out the best cleaner for reeds so if any of you have ideas or ways you do it, let me know
 

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You might not be able to use some suggestions in a public school. Vodka and other similar substances might get you sent home.
 

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jbtsax said:
Matt, what a great idea. I did a high school science fair project on the acoustics of our school auditorium and I am still interested in acoustics 40 years later. My suggestion would be to go to this website http://www.phys.unsw.edu.au/~jw/saxacoustics.html#acousticimpedance and learn all you can about saxophone acoustics first and then see if that generates any ideas for projects or experiments. Good luck.

John
AWESOME link, man. Thanks for that. It's bookmarked now!
 

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Matt C said:
Thanks guys, i finally got a project approved, figuring out the best cleaner for reeds so if any of you have ideas or ways you do it, let me know
I used a trashcan, myself :).

OK, being more serious, I used mouthwash. If the reeds were broken or just plain too gunky, I did trash them.

Carl H. is essentially correct in what he says: anything that contains a decent alcohol content will kill off bacteria. If that's what you're getting at, you could use something that's around 40 proof (20% alcohol).

And if you bring in some Smirnoff, you'll either get expelled or invited into the Teachers' Lounge :drunken:.

However, if the idea's just to kill germs and make it look nice, bleach would work. However, you wouldn't want to put a bleached reed in your mouth.
 
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