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Discussion Starter · #22 ·
Those early Rollini and Joe Venuti tracks really swing...they are great quality. It's been a good discovery. They must be among the best Jazz of the era? The reason I was surprised is because I generally thought that the 'Hot' Jazz of the '20s was made almost exclusively by black musicians and that the white musicians tended not to make it swing in the same way in those early years (generalisation I know) and made music closer to the marching band and classical tradition. So this has been a dicovery for me. I guess it's not as raw and edgy as the New Orleans stuff, but it is 'Hot' Jazz.

Didn't Grappelli come a little later on, in the '30's?

@Metaphorce. Yes I guess you are better on keeping going by trail and error then with your project. Drilling out a bore must be a more specialised thing really. If you keep at it I'm sure you will perfect it, it sounds as though you are getting close anyway? Moving the holes around must be a bit of a nightmare, a new tube each time? Does the exact length of the tube make much difference?
 

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well, early Jazz (like other forms of music also marginalised in the emigration countries such as the tango in Argentina) was also a music practiced by a number of minorities arrived in the States. Italians were often represented among this early jazz players and in fact there were even more than it was immediately apparent since many anglicised their names.

from this interesting site

http://www.italiansinjazz.com/history.php

".............The Roaring 20s and the Big Bands
Gradually, as more Italians assimilated into the American mainstream, they brought their talents with them, adding unique Italian "spice" to the musical gumbo we call jazz.
One such artist was Joe Venuti. Dubbed "the mad fiddler from Philly" for his outrageous practical jokes, Venuti single-handedly introduced the violin into the jazz ensemble. He and his boyhood friend, Eddie Lang (born Salvatore Massaro), teamed up for some ground-breaking recordings, which eventually led to their being hired for Bing Crosby's famous radio show band.
Lenny Payton (born Salvatore D'Angelo) arranged many of Duke Ellington's numbers in the 1940s. Fittingly, another Italian American, the late William Russo, carried on this tradition with his Chicago Jazz Ensemble, which continues to revive the classic works of Ellington, Jelly Roll Morton and Charlie Parker.
At the age of four, Adrian Rollini played a Chopin concert at New York's Waldorf Hotel, later mastered the vibraphone and then hit upon his favorite instrument, the bass saxophone. Joe Marsala and his brother Marty actively recruited black musicians, thus striking a blow against racial prejudice. And many Italian American musicians who started out in the Big Band era would go on to become solo masters of their particular instrument: clarinet (Buddy DeFranco), piano (Michael "Dodo" Marmarosa), saxophone (the late Flip Phillips, born Filippelli) and the drums (Louie Bellson, born Balassoni ... note: his name has been spelled both Balassoni and Balassone)..........."
 

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Very interesting thread - I learned a lot here...

For similar instruments, there's also the Clarineau - a small chalumeau in C with baroque or german recorder fingering (saxophonists will appreciate the latter), using a standard clarinet mouthpiece. It overblows in the duodecime like a clarinet, using two keys to cover the gap between first and second register that the basic fingering scheme leaves. I haven't tried the version with three keys yet (I own a standard Clarineau) - but it looks intriguing...

M.
 

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Discussion Starter · #28 ·
Excellent link Moonmind. I love the looks and sound of these - and high quality craftsmanship. How easy are these ones tuning/intonation-wise? The tone sounds good. They should be better known, but I guess they are more expensive than many similar instuments on the market.
 

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Well, the one I have is easy to control in the lower register and a devil to play in tune in the upper range - but then I'm not much of a clarinet player. Thanks to the Clarineau's small size, it's perfectly viable to "lip" notes into pitch, and there's always the possibility to use alternate fingerings (I haven't worked it all out systematically yet). The instrument works quite well, and the baroque fingering, while being a bit different from the saxophone's, provides better intonation than the german one (I exchanged some mails with the maker about this!). Personally, if I had the chance to choose again, I'd take the larger version to get the lower notes and the options it means for register change...

As for popularitiy, you're right, they're pretty expensive, but the craftmanship and design is good (though mine's not prefect, the bore being a bit off-center - but that doesn't seem to affect sound or pitch). You get a well though-out design, good choice of components and materials (the mouthpiece is actually pretty good - even on clarinet!), a reliable fingering system, decent intonation and two full octaves of range - that's pretty good by comparison. Just one small warning: The instrument is optimised for children's hands, so the finger holes are narrowly spaced. I personally don't mind that (they're really similar to a recorder's), but it could be a deal-breaker for people with big hands.

In contrast to your own experience (which is obviously shared by many on this board), I don't have any real problems with the Xaphoon's mouthpiece or its fingering system, that's why I actually like it better for the same purposes I would use a Clarineau, but not by a great margin (I've had Xaphoons for a long time now - it may be as simple as that). But the Clarineau is better in tune with itself and easier to tune since the mouthpiece can be pulled out. Plus, you get to choose your mouthpiece. All this makes for a more "serious" offering than the Xaphoon.

All in all, I think it's a great little instrument, especially for people who have good clarinet chops.

M.
 

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Discussion Starter · #31 ·
Well it's arrived!...this Hot Fountain Pen is in ebonite, 21.5cm long without the MP, and has a silver ring at each end. The mouthpiece is about the size of a sopranino sax mouthpiece, in ebonite again, but with a cork like a clarinet mouthpiece. The table ends with a crescent rather than a square hole, where the reed vibrates, like a saxophone. Although its a cylindrical bore like a clarinet. It sounds like a clarinet. sounds good actually. It plays in tune well and plays an F Major scale F to high Bb, just over one octave. I haven't tried to overblow it yet.

It is unmarked so I'm wondering if it is exactly the same as the '20s Hot Fountain Pen? The holes look to be in the same places so I guess that it is either an original Hot Fountain Pen, or a slightly later exact copy. It came from a seller in France who described it as 'New Old Stock' from the 1940s.

I'll try and post more later when I've had more time with it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #32 ·
Thinking about it, if the original Hot Fountain Pen was in Eb then this one must be different. I know they were made in different keys, what key does this one play in, F?
 

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Hello
I have an Eb HFP sold by Keith Prowse (similar to Brian Hills one). Being a tuba player I thought it would be amusing but it isn't as easy to play as I imagined ! Maybe I'll stick to my slide cornet - which reminds me, somewhere I have a Birmingham-made Swanee Sax.
If you're anywhere near Whitley Bay, by all means come and compare the HFP.
I have a few more saxes (and a Ben Davis sax-fingered oboe, c1920) but most of my collection is brass.
John
 

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Hi, I'm new to the forum - I found and played, (even recorded a 45rpm) a 'hot fountain pen' back in the 1960's. In fact further back in this thread is a piccy of me tooting on one. A few years ago I managed to find another. Keith Prowse advertised first the Eb version, later also a C version. Also tried making one from bamboo, and used a single reed oboe mouthpiece. Furthermore, had one made by Fred Rose, who makes whistles and flutes, made in african blackwood (instead of ebonite) and with solid silver rings on the ends. What I would like to know - the Keith Prowse model seems to be sharp by a semitone on lowest note! (so the Fred Rose version, I had made with the lowest note a semitone lower!) It has a single screw ligature, and I use a cut-down Bb clarinet reed.
 

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I have been working on making something similar since Oct 2010. The Maui Xaphoon (and its plastic brother) are direct descendants of the HFP, same holing, same fingering. Mine, the Hot Water Pipe, is slightly different (see img).

The reason it sounds so low with such a short tube is that it partakes of Clarinet acoustics, not sax acoustics. Saxes are conical bore instruments (along with oboes, english horns, and bassoons) and the wave length of the lowest note is equal to (about) 2X the length of the tube. The clarinet is a closed-end cylindrical bore, and the wavelength of its lowest note is about 4X the length of the tube. You get a lot of bass per inch with the cylindrical bore. You also get only half the overtones (you get the odd ones).

The other big difference between them is that the Conical bores overblow at the octave, which keeps everything nice and consistent for the second register, fingering-wise; whereas the Cylindrical bores overblow at the 12th, which means that your second register begins at the fifth note of the octave, giving the little horn quite a range. I can produce reasonably musical notes over a 2-octave range, and a few more notes (completing the second register) that are neither reliable nor particularly musical.
jus a few intrest questions: what level of conicity, (if that is a word) is needed to make it more like a sax. let`s say the tube is 1.5 mm thick and you make it conical by machining and leaving the top rim 1.5mm and the bottom rim 0.5mm. I think (imagine) this will allready lead to a more sax like sound. But does this mean you have to alter the fingering placement?
 
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