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  1. #21
    twocircles's Avatar
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    Default Re: Categorization of sopranos

    Quote Originally Posted by warp x View Post
    As all other saxophones, sopranos vary from instrument to instrument. I prefer not to categorise but if I had to I'd do it on a 'per horn' basis. Moreover, what's bright to me may sound dark to you. It's all so very subjective and personal so what's the point.
    Well, that is the point. I think we can have more accurate and exacting language that describes the characteristics of our saxophones whether it is a make and model of sax or an individual instrument.

    The authors of the two articles make valiant attempts to improve those descriptors using two very differnt approaches. Whether you think their systems are perfect is beside the point.

    Collectively, there's a lot of talent, experience, and creativity on SOTW, whether a categorization system results or not, what can we do to improve our descriptors?
    Soprano: New soprano coming soon; Vintage C-Mel Tenor project: Evette-Schaeffer, Buffet-Crampon Clarinet: Yamaha
    Alto: Noblet "Face" model (Designed by Dolnet?, made in the Beaugnier factory under Dolnet management for LeBlanc under the Noblet label. That's the musical instrument business.);

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    Default Re: Categorization of sopranos

    I wish Joe G. were here to explain/defend his categorization scheme. He hasn't posted anything in SOTW since very early in 2017.

    A couple of questions I would ask: The article states, "The thing to remember is that these groups often do NOT signify the origin of the horn at all." From the examples given, however, that statement appears to be true only with respect to Japanese and other Asian-made sopranos, which can land in any category. (Interestingly, there is no "Japanese style" category, even though Yamaha and Yanagisawa arguably have been, collectively, the world leader in sopranos for several decades now.) Most other makes do seem to be placed in categories determined by their country of origin. The Italian makes are classified as "Italian style." Keilwerth and the other German makes are "German style." And has there ever been a Selmer Paris soprano model that would not qualify as "French style"?

    With respect to Yany in particular, the S9930 is described as French style, and the S902 as a cross between French style and German style. The other current models are lumped into the "Asian style" category, presumably including the S901, S991, and S992. It's my understanding, however, that all straight Yany sopranos of a given generation share the same bore and tone hole layout (except for the possible addition of a high G tone hole). So switching from brass (S991) or bronze (S992) to silver (S9930) can change a horn's "style" from Asian to French? Or going from brass (S901) to bronze (S902)? And, oddly, the S992 is Asian style but the S902 is not?

  4. #23
    Distinguished SOTW Coffee Guru milandro's Avatar
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    Default Re: Categorization of sopranos

    there are several threads in the past attempting to bring univocal clarity to descriptions and all stranded in the impossibility of the task.

    Explain “ orange” color and be sure that by describing it I get the exact hue. You can’t.


    https://forum.saxontheweb.net/showth...s-Bright-tones

    https://forum.saxontheweb.net/showth...-between-these

    https://forum.saxontheweb.net/showth...spects-of-Tone


    and many, many more
    Life is just a bowl... some have cherries in it, some don’t. Those who have the cherries aren’t likely to share them though.

  5. #24
    twocircles's Avatar
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    Default Re: Categorization of sopranos

    Thanks, Milandro, we can always rely on you to highlight pertinent points and previous discussions.

    Excluding the issue of color blindness but not trivializing it, no one would confuse orange with blue, and they probably would not confuse orange with yellow or red. Yet, the use of terms borrowed from other senses in describing sax tone is so confusing that we often do just that as pointed out in those threads.

    I won't get into Kim Slava's spectrograph, which might be useful were we going to start with tone. Any affects of the saxophone on tone are heard through the filters of the player, the reed, and the mouthpiece, so it may not be the best place to start.

    And again, in describing the effect of the instrument on playing, only a small portion of the description needs to be about effects on tone. So, tone would not be a good place to start.

    These assumptions fly in the face of the marketing of most saxophone manufacturers where we are told, "It's all about the tone!" "This sax has a Mark VI sound." or other such hooks.

    If tone is not a good place to start describing a soprano saxophone, what would be?
    Soprano: New soprano coming soon; Vintage C-Mel Tenor project: Evette-Schaeffer, Buffet-Crampon Clarinet: Yamaha
    Alto: Noblet "Face" model (Designed by Dolnet?, made in the Beaugnier factory under Dolnet management for LeBlanc under the Noblet label. That's the musical instrument business.);

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    Forum Contributor 2014 Pete Thomas's Avatar
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    Default Re: Categorization of sopranos

    Quote Originally Posted by twocircles View Post

    If tone is not a good place to start describing a soprano saxophone, what would be?
    All I ask of a soprano is that it is slightly more in tune than I feared it would be.

    All my wife and and two cats ask of a soprano is that it stays in its box.
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    twocircles's Avatar
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    Default Re: Categorization of sopranos

    Quote Originally Posted by Pete Thomas View Post
    All I ask of a soprano is that it is slightly more in tune than I feared it would be.

    All my wife and and two cats ask of a soprano is that it stays in its box.
    LOL!

    I try to practice when no critics are within hearing distance, but the cat typically goes to the furthest corner of the house. The dog feels obligated to join in and demonstrate the pitch I should be on.
    Soprano: New soprano coming soon; Vintage C-Mel Tenor project: Evette-Schaeffer, Buffet-Crampon Clarinet: Yamaha
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    Default Re: Categorization of sopranos

    Soprano is the only Sax I'm happy playing ...or listening to ... Baroque music or modern Classical music. But at a pinch a bit of Alto, although it tends to sound like an interloper, and Tenor forget it. The lower the pitch the more difficult it is to bear.
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    Default Re: Categorization of sopranos

    Kessler adds another interesting perspective to this: https://www.kesslerandsons.com/blog/...a-soprano-sax/

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    Default Re: Categorization of sopranos

    Quote Originally Posted by Guto View Post
    Kessler adds another interesting perspective to this: https://www.kesslerandsons.com/blog/...a-soprano-sax/
    It probably depends on how you read it, but to me, it felt like he was saying that French-style sops are automatically superior in tone, while Japanese-style ones are for people who want ease of playing.
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    Default Re: Categorization of sopranos

    Quote Originally Posted by Christian1 View Post
    It probably depends on how you read it, but to me, it felt like he was saying that French-style sops are automatically superior in tone, while Japanese-style ones are for people who want ease of playing.
    It must be in how you read it. I didn't get that at all. I did get that that French style sops took more consistent practice to keep sounding at their best relative to Japanese style sops. I had never heard that before, and I am not sure why that would be.

    I also note that Kessler only addresses styles of saxes they carry.

    Are we back to tone, or is there something else in his evaluation?
    Soprano: New soprano coming soon; Vintage C-Mel Tenor project: Evette-Schaeffer, Buffet-Crampon Clarinet: Yamaha
    Alto: Noblet "Face" model (Designed by Dolnet?, made in the Beaugnier factory under Dolnet management for LeBlanc under the Noblet label. That's the musical instrument business.);

  12. #31
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    Default Re: Categorization of sopranos

    twocircles: It appears to me that you are looking for an answer to a question that cannot be answered. Why? Because the basic premise is just too esoteric (the French vs. American vs. Japanese thing) - too subjective . . . too much thinking . . . too much parsing.

    How many better mousetraps can there be? You can drive yourself mad by laying on your back and staring into space, wondering where it all started, where it ends, is there an end, what was there BEFORE it began. These things are unanswerable (without bringing religion into it).

    Since the horn first came on scene, the straight soprano saxophone has been a conical tube with a consistently ascending (or descending, depending on into which end you look) dimension. How could any one country (or design-philosophy) alter that?

    My old Martin, Conn, MKVI's are just about the same as the newest sopranos I've owned, save for the placement of the low bell-notes. While those who claim there is something else behind it all, I don't believe it. Some guy in Timbuktu could see a MKVI or a TT and make his own version of it but that doesn't mean we'd now have the Timbuktu school of thought. Beware of marketing! DAVE
    Dave

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    Default Re: Categorization of sopranos

    There are always better mousetraps. The history of design and innovation is predicated on that premise.

    With soprano saxes, through the years changes have included tonal, ergonomic, psycho-acoustic, mechanical or acoustic/manufacturing elements. I'm sure there are more. And they all count. They all create instruments with a wide range of subtle differences. Some of the differences we hear, some we feel, others we sense. This helps explain why players are more comfortable with one instrument over another, even though they may sound remarkably similar on both. The differences are fascinating, if not vexing at times.
    And as saxophonists evolve from players to musicians to artists, the subtleties play an increasingly more important role even though as artists we become less dependent on them.

    Paul Cohen

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    twocircles's Avatar
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    Default Re: Categorization of sopranos

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Dolson View Post
    twocircles: It appears to me that you are looking for an answer to a question that cannot be answered. Why? Because the basic premise is just too esoteric (the French vs. American vs. Japanese thing) - too subjective . . . too much thinking . . . too much parsing.

    How many better mousetraps can there be? You can drive yourself mad by laying on your back and staring into space, wondering where it all started, where it ends, is there an end, what was there BEFORE it began. These things are unanswerable (without bringing religion into it).

    Since the horn first came on scene, the straight soprano saxophone has been a conical tube with a consistently ascending (or descending, depending on into which end you look) dimension. How could any one country (or design-philosophy) alter that?

    My old Martin, Conn, MKVI's are just about the same as the newest sopranos I've owned, save for the placement of the low bell-notes. While those who claim there is something else behind it all, I don't believe it. Some guy in Timbuktu could see a MKVI or a TT and make his own version of it but that doesn't mean we'd now have the Timbuktu school of thought. Beware of marketing!
    Dave:: I don't mean to distress anybody. If this was an easy topic, there would be easy answers already, and I am not necessarily expecting some miraculous categorization system or new descriptive terms be developed within this thread. I thought it would be a topic worth discussion, one where we might gain insights or have epiphanies about our instruments. Paul Cohen's and others' observations have been enlightening and thought-provoking. New ideas all start some place.

    There is a lot to appreciate in the intricacies and compromises that go into our saxophones, especially sopranos. The placement, size and height of toneholes. A woodwind designer once described instruments as a series of rings or bands stacked upon each other each ending in a tonehole, or something like that. It's a complex and acane process to design a great saxophone.
    Soprano: New soprano coming soon; Vintage C-Mel Tenor project: Evette-Schaeffer, Buffet-Crampon Clarinet: Yamaha
    Alto: Noblet "Face" model (Designed by Dolnet?, made in the Beaugnier factory under Dolnet management for LeBlanc under the Noblet label. That's the musical instrument business.);

  15. #34
    twocircles's Avatar
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    Default Re: Categorization of sopranos

    I certainly did not start this thread with any notion of answers to the questions I was asking, but I have gained an appreciation for the thought that Joe and Anders put into their articles. Consider what they each said.

    Although Anders primarily addresses tone, he limits one's expectation of how much actually comes from the saxophone itself. He divides tone into core, overtones and dynamic range (which he describes as frequency range, but both may be important) and what he calls "Egality," which I think most would call evenness of timbre throughout the frequency range of the sax. While these concepts are not unique to Anders. I do think it's a good launching point for useful tone description. In fact, there are probably descriptors for these that are better than bright, warm and dark.

    Joe took a very different approach since his article is part of a series on selecting a soprano saxophone. I have to admit my first reaction was to be a little rankled by his system. However, after posting here and considering what he is actually saying, it seems he is trying to group much of the experiences as one plays different soprano saxophones, a big picture kind of approach.

    It's perhaps unfortunate that he chose countries as categories. It's less memorable, but I think we would be as well or better served by A, B, C, D or I, II, III, IV, or some other system. However, he does not limit his description to tone but seems to make an attempt to describe some of the playing experience, which of course includes tone. Rather than answering the question, "What does this soprano sound like?" He gets closer to answering, "What is it like to play this soprano?" The system is not complete, but it is another launching point.
    Soprano: New soprano coming soon; Vintage C-Mel Tenor project: Evette-Schaeffer, Buffet-Crampon Clarinet: Yamaha
    Alto: Noblet "Face" model (Designed by Dolnet?, made in the Beaugnier factory under Dolnet management for LeBlanc under the Noblet label. That's the musical instrument business.);

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    Default Re: Categorization of sopranos

    Anders' system is actually verifiable with accurate enough spectroscopy on the EQ curve, because that's ultimately all differences in timbre are. However, I can tell you that I recorded long tones on two utterly different sounding mouthpieces and produced pretty detailed EQ curves and there was nothing notable to the naked eye. Our ears are pretty good and can easily recognise minor differences in timbre - e.g. we can recognise one person's voice from another even when, say, singing the same song at the same pitch.

    So with enough dedication you could do a spectroscopic analysis on each each instrument (or mouthpiece, or reed, or ligature) but it's arguable what the point is. It's still not going to tell someone who hasn't heard it what it sounds like. The best it could do is say, if you liked A you might like Q and X because they have fairly similar EQ curves. Perhaps it would be better than another forty years of people talking about "edge" and "woody"

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    Default Re: Categorization of sopranos

    Maybe this could all be sorted out with a good old fashioned blindfold test like the one Pete Thomas did a while back for tenor saxophones? My guess is that the outcome would be similar; that listeners would have much difficulty identifying which sound recording belonged to which instrument.

  18. #37
    Distinguished SOTW Coffee Guru milandro's Avatar
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    Default Re: Categorization of sopranos

    A spectrographic analysis of a flavor or a smell would tell you what the content of each of these is but not how people perceive them, yes you can couple perception to data but you still won’t know what it is for a person.

    We are talking of something completely different, though, we are talking of a sound which changes with independent variables the most variable of which is the player.

    My contention is that the embouchure and oral cavity of each player (coupled to the thousands of mouthpiece, reeds variables) are different and the hearing of each is also different.

    This originates millions of subjective variables and renders any objective classification pointless. In the end it would be just as incomplete and open to opinions description as: bright, edgy, warm, centered, spread, focussed or whatever oter themrs are used.

    The measure of a circle is not the same as squaring it for visual purposes.

    Meditate on this matters, this that you are postulating is the definition of Noumenon as in something that exists but in a plane of knowledge that cannot be experienced or known, I suggest Onfaloscopia. enjoy!
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    Ha! I'm not sure it's just omphaloscopia. You could for example test 50 silver Yss875ex and 50 brass and average the results and demonstrate empirically whether there is any difference. If not we know it's only down to optics and if yes we've discovered what "darker" actually means

  20. #39
    twocircles's Avatar
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    Default Re: Categorization of sopranos

    Well, since we keep going back to sound, tone and timbre, I guess the instrument's influence on tone actually is the difference between models and brands of soprano saxophones despite claims that our tonal concept dominates that influence and that reed and mouthpiece are more influential.
    Soprano: New soprano coming soon; Vintage C-Mel Tenor project: Evette-Schaeffer, Buffet-Crampon Clarinet: Yamaha
    Alto: Noblet "Face" model (Designed by Dolnet?, made in the Beaugnier factory under Dolnet management for LeBlanc under the Noblet label. That's the musical instrument business.);

  21. #40
    Distinguished SOTW Member CashSax's Avatar
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    Default Re: Categorization of sopranos

    Damn what a far out thread..you guys are way smarter than me..But I play Sop too (no I ain't the greatest)..I played quite a few of them..I like VI best, everything gets behind..then I prefer a ONE piece series II.. hey I played Conn, Buescher, Kings, they sound great, along with yammys and yanisss and quite a few others..but the VI ??? no other choice for me...now the real story, my last Selmer Sop I bought new (when I had dough) was a silver series III, I never loved it, was very pretty, but 2 piece was a PITA and I always still missed my VI's..


    I do enjoy playing a Sop and I got good mpcs..so a few mos back I got a eBay special, it's a Kessler "performance" Custom..hella horn for 3 bills. I play a couple tunes on the gig or honk on it for fun.

    Category..??? LOL

    Cash's vintage Demo Recordings circa '99-'03 SF Bay Area www.box.net/cashsax

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