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The Trombone ForumHorns, Gear, and EquipmentInstruments(Moderators: tbone62, slide advantage) Acoustic Engineering in Trombone Design
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Pteranabone

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« on: Aug 11, 2017, 08:58PM »

I have the sense that trombone design is more of a craft than an applied science.  Do horn manufacturers ever use engineers to aid in the design of horns?
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JohnL
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« Reply #1 on: Aug 11, 2017, 09:57PM »

I have the sense that trombone design is more of a craft than an applied science.  Do horn manufacturers ever use engineers to aid in the design of horns?
Conn reportedly did a lot of acoustic research during the Elkhart era; the story goes that the records of much of said research were lost (i.e., thrown out and/or destroyed) during the move to Abilene.

All of the big players in the industry do some acoustic research, but theoretical acoustics will only get you so far. There's too many human factors involved on both ends of the instrument.

Heck, it's tough enough to come up with equations that properly predict what we empirically know (or think we know) after over a century of building "modern" trombones.
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robcat2075

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« Reply #2 on: Aug 11, 2017, 10:22PM »

With the current ability to precisely model a shape and simulate the behavior of matter inside it, it should be possible to aid horn design but... there probably isn't the money for doing it that there is in designing hypersonic jets, nuclear bombs, or predicting the weather, all things that have advanced with the use of supercomputing.


It's also possible that there just aren't many things left to be improved about a trombone and still have it be a trombone. The variations we see are all dancing around a basic thing that's been around for a long time and no one wants a trombone that sounds or operates wildly different from the trombones we know.

Do we?

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MrPillow
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« Reply #3 on: Aug 11, 2017, 10:55PM »

Conn reportedly did a lot of acoustic research during the Elkhart era; the story goes that the records of much of said research were lost (i.e., thrown out and/or destroyed) during the move to Abilene.

The last remaining bastions of the Conn research labs reside in the archives of the National Music Museum. There is a substantial amount of documentary information there from the 30s-60s, unfortunately I've scoured all of it and found relatively little relating to trombones. They were certainly doing a lot of work, but its difficult to reconstruct what exactly they were doing with the information available. Acoustic engineers were certainly on the company's payroll.

With the current ability to precisely model a shape and simulate the behavior of matter inside it, it should be possible to aid horn design but... there probably isn't the money for doing it that there is in designing hypersonic jets, nuclear bombs, or predicting the weather, all things that have advanced with the use of supercomputing.

Since it has become more affordable (less than $10,000 for a capable outfit), acoustic modeling is being adopted more quickly by brass makers. Usually however, it is the small boutique makers opting in. Egger of Switzerland rather notoriously makes heavy use of BIAS physical modeling in reconstruction of historical instruments.

There's a project going on right now involving Ian Bousfield, Egger, and some notable organologists/acousticians working on recreating the ideal romantic German trombone.

http://www.hkb-interpretation.ch/index.php?id=387

Until the Eastman takeover, Dr. Robert Pyle, an acoustical engineer, was a partial owner of S. E. Shires and served as their in-house acoustic expert, and has published some articles involving the work he did there in the larger context of brass acoustics.
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« Reply #4 on: Aug 12, 2017, 03:11AM »

Dr. Richard Smith, who used to be B&H/Besson's resident acoustician, now is the "Smith" of the Smith-Watkins trumpet brand but I don't know that he has any involvement in trombone manufacturing.

Cheers

Stewbones
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Trombone means big trumpet-does that mean it is louder?
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