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Discussion Starter #1
Does anyone have any experience using a software version of a spectrum analyzer and ocilliscope to observe the harmonics in a saxophone sound? I am trying to use Virltin's software and the choice of settings is confusing. Any help would be appreciated.

John
 

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John, I rememberplaying around with one of those programs with Bootman a while ago. Very interesting piece of kit. I'll ask him which version it was. I do remember that there were a few different ways to analyze your sound. I'll get back to you shortly.

DP
 

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I've used freeware Mac scope/analyzer software for a class I taught in Music Technology. Before that I used the 'real' thing.

I would think that the spectrum analyzer would be more useful for analyzing harmonic content.

What's your confusion? Settings?
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Finding the right settings is my stumbling block at the present time. There are so many. Since I posted this I got a message from the software company directing me to an instruction manual in pdf format (85 pages)!

After I have waded through this manual, I'm sure I will have some more specific questions for those of you who have more experience in this field.

John
 

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Gee, you're not trying to prove that there is an actual harmonic difference between different finishes, are you??
 

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You mean actually measure something instead of speculating?

We can't have that kind of clear thinking on SOTW!
 

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If all you want to see in a tone are the fundamental and partials, try Transcribe! It shows those tones on a piano keyboard display.

http://www.seventhstring.com/

Otherwise any program that can apply and display the results of a Fourier transform should tell you what you want to know. Time domain in, frequency domain out.
 

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DanPerezSax said:
But how many saxes would you have to test to prove that the finish was the variable, and not the uniqueness of the instrument? For me, I'd have to have like 10 horns of each finish at the very least just to get an idea of which characteristics belonged to that finish.
Why 10? Is that a magic number that suddenly gives you statistical power? Why not 5 or 30?

I think that if the experiment were designed correctly, one could have a relatively small n and still have validity.

The caveat is that it doesn't matter to people that have already decided,---they will always attack your design/methods.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
hakukani said:
The caveat is that it doesn't matter to people that have already decided,---they will always attack your design/methods.
Amen to that, brother!

Actually I was thinking more in terms of finding a useful purpose for the ultra cheap "saxophone shaped objects" coming out of China. Some of my ideas are as follows:

To check the effect of wall vibrations on the sound, first record the sound spectrum produced by low Bb, and then wedge all the open keys closed and encase the saxophone in a bucket of concrete. When set, record the sound spectrum again. When the experiment is finished attach a rope and use as a spare boat anchor.

Also wedge the keys closed and take the sax to a preschool class along with a carton of modeling clay. Cover the bell opening with duct tape and put a rubber stopper in the end of the neck and have the class cover the entire sax with multicolored clay. Test the sound spectrum before and after. When finished mount the sax on a stand and call it a modern sculpture.

Test the spectrum of several notes on a lacquered sax, remove the keys and chemically strip the lacquer without buffing and then test again using the same reed mouthpiece and player. When finished make into a lamp.

The answer to whether the finish or material of a saxophone affects the sound is nigh at hand. The search will be over. The truth will be known!
 

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jbtsax said:
The answer to whether the finish or material of a saxophone affects the sound is nigh at hand. The search will be over. The truth will be known!
Is that kinda like the "truth" at the center of each episode of The X-Files? Or is it more like the "truth" of a carrot hanging off of a stick and attached to harness worn on the heard of a horse?

In order to properly test this hypothesis, you would have to construct a mechanical device which could seal around the mouthpiece and blow air through the horn and get the reed to vibrate, and then test it on several saxophones of the same make and model, AND finish; AND THEN on several horns of the same make and model and a DIFFERENT finish. Seven of each kind would probably be sufficient to produce a statistical norm to write a proposal to get a grant to undertake a larger test.

I would also to use a high quality contact mic, so that the vibrations in the room don't skew your results. Or you'd have to find a well, built acoustically dead room and use an uber expensive Neumann or Shoeps microphone.

You would probably have the best luck with the various Keilwerth saxophones, or the machine produced Yamahas. Say seven regular gold lacquered SX90Rs, seven black-nickel SX90Rs, seven nickel-silver SX90Rs, and seven silver plated SX90Rs. Or seven each of the gold lacquered, black lacquered, silver plate, and gold plate Yamaha 62s.

And then of course you'd have to repeat the test on tenor, and baritone to see if the larger tube/body mass exaggerates the effect.

Man, I tell you, it DOESN'T matter whether or not the finish affects the sound of an instrument, as long as you are happy with it looking cooler than the guy playing the VIntage rust bucket next to you (and if you can out play him, all the better :twisted: )
 

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Discussion Starter #13
JCBigler said:
Is that kinda like the "truth" at the center of each episode of The X-Files? Or is it more like the "truth" of a carrot hanging off of a stick and attached to harness worn on the heard of a horse?

In order to properly test this hypothesis, you would have to construct a mechanical device which could seal around the mouthpiece and blow air through the horn and get the reed to vibrate, and then test it on several saxophones of the same make and model, AND finish; AND THEN on several horns of the same make and model and a DIFFERENT finish. Seven of each kind would probably be sufficient to produce a statistical norm to write a proposal to get a grant to undertake a larger test.

I would also to use a high quality contact mic, so that the vibrations in the room don't skew your results. Or you'd have to find a well, built acoustically dead room and use an uber expensive Neumann or Shoeps microphone.

You would probably have the best luck with the various Keilwerth saxophones, or the machine produced Yamahas. Say seven regular gold lacquered SX90Rs, seven black-nickel SX90Rs, seven nickel-silver SX90Rs, and seven silver plated SX90Rs. Or seven each of the gold lacquered, black lacquered, silver plate, and gold plate Yamaha 62s.

And then of course you'd have to repeat the test on tenor, and baritone to see if the larger tube/body mass exaggerates the effect.

Man, I tell you, it DOESN'T matter whether or not the finish affects the sound of an instrument, as long as you are happy with it looking cooler than the guy playing the VIntage rust bucket next to you (and if you can out play him, all the better :twisted: )
It's too bad you left brain dudes don't share the same sense of humor as the rest of us "normal" folks. What we really need is a "TONGUE IN CHEEK" icon to help you guys know when we are kidding. :lol:
 

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Actually, you don't have to control for room acoutics, or buy a really expensive mic. When comparing two things, all you have to do to control is use the same mic in the same room. This is because you're looking for the difference, not some ideal.

BTW, scientists don't 'prove' anything, any more than a court of law 'proves' anything. Scientists gather evidence to provide sufficient evidence to remove all reasonable doubt.

Note the word 'reasonable'.
 

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Al Stevens said:
If all you want to see in a tone are the fundamental and partials, try Transcribe! It shows those tones on a piano keyboard display.

http://www.seventhstring.com/

Otherwise any program that can apply and display the results of a Fourier transform should tell you what you want to know. Time domain in, frequency domain out.


A good spectrum analyzer will also tell you the relative amplitude as well as the frequency of the harmonics. The relative amplitude of the harmonics is as, if not more, important than the number of harmonics present for measuring timbre.
 

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hakukani said:
A good spectrum analyzer will also tell you the relative amplitude as well as the frequency of the harmonics. The relative amplitude of the harmonics is as, if not more, important than the number of harmonics present for measuring timbre.
Transcribe! does that, with a graphic display above each note. It's purpose is to tell you what notes are (probably) being played in a section of a waveform, but it serves as a poor man's spectrum analyzer, too. It's a wonderful program. At last, I can parse out Tatum and Evans voicings and nail a Bird or Tatum run note for note. Not that I can play them, but at least I know what they are doing.

I know what my sax sounds like. I don't need to see it. Why add to the pain?
 
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