a tribute to SAX


It was a great pleasure for me to have «first generation» Adolphe Sax instruments on my desk for several times. Apart from measuring their bore profiles, some of them were in a playable condition. Their charming character left a persuasive impression behind.

Unlike many other people, who might want to obtain such an instrument for themselves, it was my idea to build an instrument with a similar bore profile, but then with a more fully equipped and more modern mechanism. The question arises whether or not we have lost 'something' in the course of history by straightening the cone and if so, at the expense of or in favour of what?
These instruments are furthermore characterized by the strict use of only one tone hole per position. There are no alternative fingerings, but, and acoustically more important, there are no parallel tone holes and so there is less disturbance of the bore. I had the idea that this might contribute to their resonant character.

And thus there are two different points of departure that govern the design of this project:

bore

The profiles from the time of the first patent show the common tendency of a 'multiple sword profile', which is a profile with more than one bend and where the conicity of the neck is greatest and this first conicity is followed by several each time more slender ones.
As for the bell, the straight soprano shows quite another picture than the curved instruments: with the straight instrument the last conicity reaches right into the bell; in the curved instruments the last conicity (up to and including part of the bottom bow) is followed by a bell which in itself has quite a wide conicity.

mechanism

The proposals that are made by Sax in his third patent and the mechanism of alto 40842 both deserve closer investigation. At the same time, no one would want to do without the structure of a modern mechanism. So the idea is to build a mechanism one the basis of only one tone hole per position which still retains all possibilities of a modern fingering and with an eye on the proposals Sax layed down in his third patent.





December 2014