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Author Topic: Richard Smith, still nutty  (Read 5506 times)
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elmsandr

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« on: Feb 07, 2017, 08:25AM »

So, first the link:
https://vimeo.com/162048336

Now some thoughts... He is very correct on one major part here:  Airflow is not soundwave propagation.  However, I would take his demonstration more seriously if he didn't sound horrible on all the notes he played on all the horns.  Really, at least a better mic is needed, that sounds bad.  I'd love to see one of those diaphragm mouthpieces played by somebody really good with blind A-B test to see what it does to the feedback to the player.  For me, my buzz is often quite rough without the feedback from the horn.  We can continue to debate the merits of mouthpiece buzzing and free buzzing, but the horn does provide direct physical feedback to the chops.  Would that diaphragm cut that feedback loop or make it less effective?

Anyway, was just sent this video today and figured there may be some interesting talking points here,
Andy
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Andrew Elms
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« Reply #1 on: Feb 07, 2017, 02:47PM »

In 1999 the ITG published a Smith article entitled "Exciting Your Instrument."  He described what look to be just the items used in the video.  In that article he had help from Dudley Bright in assessing the effects.

I'm not going to say much more on this, as I got pretty well trounced last time I said there was proof air did not have to go THROUGH the horn from the mouthpiece for it to work.

But I think Smith makes it clear that the air from the face does NOT have to go through the horn.  This in turn pretty much relegates the "blow it to the back wall" method as an analogy that seems to work for some (although I'm not sure I've heard it work.) Of course, if we thought about it, we'd realize that the sound from the lips moves at the speed of sound, and NONE of us can move air THAT fast!

The questions that come to my mind with the Smith paper and this video are not far from yours.  From my perspective, I wonder if the air passage in the horn is a bit of serendipity similar to that of the bell shape.  The bell taper was well established before the science came along that could characterize it. 

I suspect that it would take a LOT of work balancing the air out the side port of the mouthpiece to get just the right resistance to support just the right buzz at just the right pitch and just the right dynamic. 

But it seems like two factors in the horn work almost automatically to provide this regulation:
1) actual "AC" acoustic impedence, with effects amplified near the mouthpiece by passage restrictions
2) very low "DC" input impedence of the MP/Throat/Venturi/bore/bell system.

I don't know if Smith is nutty.  I think he, like Benade, is good at taking theoretical acoustical concepts and letting them leak out into the real world in way ordinary folks can understand.  And he seems to have fun doing it.
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« Reply #2 on: Feb 07, 2017, 03:04PM »

He surely builds amazing instruments. If only he could play like his former and deceased partner, Derek....
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Blowero

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« Reply #3 on: Feb 11, 2017, 12:20AM »

But I think Smith makes it clear that the air from the face does NOT have to go through the horn.  This in turn pretty much relegates the "blow it to the back wall" method as an analogy that seems to work for some (although I'm not sure I've heard it work.) Of course, if we thought about it, we'd realize that the sound from the lips moves at the speed of sound, and NONE of us can move air THAT fast!

But you do have to make your lips vibrate, and it seems obvious to me that increasing the volume of sound requires one to blow more air through the lips. It may not have to go through the trombone, but it does have to go through the lips. Maybe he was suggesting that device could have a practical use for a musician, but I didn't feel that he was. To me it seemed more like just a method of demonstrating a principle.
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Blowero

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« Reply #4 on: Feb 11, 2017, 12:35AM »

Here's what I'm not sure I understand, though. I tried a simple experiment: I recorded the sound of myself buzzing the mouthpiece alone, then played back the sound into a trombone. What came out of the bell was not the sound of a trombone, but rather a very slightly amplified sound of a mouthpiece buzzing. Then I tried a somewhat more complicated experiment: I made a pair of artificial lips, connected to the rim of a mouthpiece, sealed it off with another mouthpiece set backwards, rim to rim, inserted it into a trombone, and blew compressed air into it. The result sounds like what we expect a trombone sound to be. So why didn't my recorded sound amplify in the same way? Is it because it wasn't sealed?
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« Reply #5 on: Feb 11, 2017, 04:31AM »

Musings from a rank amateur...

Maybe this as an indication that the horn as a wave guide is really about the resonance qualities of the horn.  The lips create vibrational resonance and that vibrational resonance is slotted and amplified through the open tubing of the instrument as a wave guide.

For me, personally, I know my sound quality improved significantly when I spent some time doing Bill Adams pipe playing on my horn.

Just throwing this out there.  I'm curious to see other thoughts from our forum. :)

--Andy
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« Reply #6 on: Feb 11, 2017, 06:12AM »

But you do have to make your lips vibrate, and it seems obvious to me that increasing the volume of sound requires one to blow more air through the lips. It may not have to go through the trombone, but it does have to go through the lips. Maybe he was suggesting that device could have a practical use for a musician, but I didn't feel that he was. To me it seemed more like just a method of demonstrating a principle.

I also think that one has to blow more air to play louder.  I think you put your finger right on the difference though: through the lips. So the difference I see is focusing on the part making the originating noise rather than the horn itself or especially the back of the room.  This is actually a very positive thing: we can DO something about the lips.  This much seems to me closely analogous to the very careful selection of drivers for loudspeaker horns.  Wit the wrong one, efficiency plumets and sound balance diminishes.  The the one that matches the acoustcal/mechanical impedances makes the horn shine.

Of course, we DO have to "play the room."  The standing wave in our horn will react differently to each room acoustic.  Knowing how to adjust our face to meet the room most gracefully lets even a pianissimo be heard clearly in the back of the room.

I think that second part might be a TINY bit of why your interesting experiments had such interesting results.  There are papers describing how brass instruments also function, up to a point, as waveguides.  Disrupting the guide seems to me like a good way to disrupt the sonic qualities. So, recording the EXACT amplitude of the MP buzz at the EXACT point where you will reintroduce it into the system, and reintroducing it with those exact parameters... Smith handled that by immediately taking what was "captured" by the membrane and "releasing" it back into the horn.

The air from the face does not need to go through the horn.  Unquestionably it DOES need to go through the lips, just as a bow must move across violin strings.  From there every facet of the SHAPE of the ENTIRE system makes differences.  Benade made interesting observations about shape of bell AND shape of cup/throat/backbore on the way flared horns simulate the overtones that are not inherent in a pipe closed on one end.  How did the partials line up after Smith took out so much of the final bit of the cup and the entire throat?

These questions are well beyond the abilities of my self-directed readings on acoustics.  So I'll just focus on matching my face to the horn at the mouthpiece, and matching my horn to the room through the mouthpiece.  But I'll never blow it to the back wall again  Evil
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elmsandr

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« Reply #7 on: Feb 11, 2017, 01:14PM »

What I generally meant with nutty here was that he had an opportunity to show that it generally did not matter to make a good sound, but he just showed that it made a sound. It would have been interesting to hear music with his third way, but that didn't happen.

As for more air being required, I try to think of it as more energy required. As the air input is the only way we have to get energy into the system, how else do we make it work.

Cheers,
Andy
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Andrew Elms
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« Reply #8 on: Feb 11, 2017, 01:31PM »

What I generally meant with nutty here was that he had an opportunity to show that it generally did not matter to make a good sound, but he just showed that it made a sound. It would have been interesting to hear music with his third way, but that didn't happen.

As for more air being required, I try to think of it as more energy required. As the air input is the only way we have to get energy into the system, how else do we make it work.

Cheers,
Andy

I agree. Sadly missed opportunity to show what he got with Dudley Bright.  He REPORTED that Dudley found it very playable, but here we are with Youtube, and no reinforcment of that assertion.

Wonder if he'd take kindly to a note to that effect?  Seems friendly enough... hmm.....
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« Reply #9 on: Feb 11, 2017, 01:34PM »

It's interesting to know what's really going on, but that doesn't necessarily help us be better musicians. Often, mental constructs that are not directly related to the actual physics of the process seem to help us. As an analogy, in golf, the only thing that matters is the speed, path, and orientation of the club head during the split second that it is in contact with the ball, yet players often think about "hitting the target", or spend a lot of time working on their backswing, and it does seem to help them become better golfers. "Blowing to the wall" might help some trombonists if that thought helps them blow the correct amount of air through their lips.
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timothy42b
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« Reply #10 on: Feb 13, 2017, 11:26AM »

Here's what I'm not sure I understand, though. I tried a simple experiment: I recorded the sound of myself buzzing the mouthpiece alone, then played back the sound into a trombone. What came out of the bell was not the sound of a trombone, but rather a very slightly amplified sound of a mouthpiece buzzing. Then I tried a somewhat more complicated experiment: I made a pair of artificial lips, connected to the rim of a mouthpiece, sealed it off with another mouthpiece set backwards, rim to rim, inserted it into a trombone, and blew compressed air into it. The result sounds like what we expect a trombone sound to be. So why didn't my recorded sound amplify in the same way? Is it because it wasn't sealed?

You can do that experiment in a more simple way, and it's the way I buzz in/walk in, based on hearing a pro do it.  My recordings confirm it though it doesn't sound as good as he does.

Start the buzz.  Slowly bring the horn and mouthpiece combination up to the lips until the tone starts.

You will hear three distinct phases:  a quiet mosquito buzz, then a different tone as the horn begins to act like an megaphone.  Then as contact solidifies, the horn starts to play a trombone timbre. 

What that middle phase means, I don't know.  But I agree with you that it isn't the same as the trombone sound you get a second later. 

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« Reply #11 on: Feb 13, 2017, 11:59AM »

You can do that experiment in a more simple way, and it's the way I buzz in/walk in, based on hearing a pro do it.  My recordings confirm it though it doesn't sound as good as he does.

Start the buzz.  Slowly bring the horn and mouthpiece combination up to the lips until the tone starts.

You will hear three distinct phases:  a quiet mosquito buzz, then a different tone as the horn begins to act like an megaphone.  Then as contact solidifies, the horn starts to play a trombone timbre. 

What that middle phase means, I don't know.  But I agree with you that it isn't the same as the trombone sound you get a second later. 


I wonder if one took a small speaker, sealed it inside the mouthpiece so that it is airtight, then played a recorded sound of lips buzzing, if that would produce a "trombone" sound from the bell. From what you're saying, there is obviously something about the lips being actually sealed on the mouthpiece that makes it a "trombone" sound.
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« Reply #12 on: Feb 13, 2017, 12:40PM »

From what you're saying, there is obviously something about the lips being actually sealed on the mouthpiece that makes it a "trombone" sound.

Maybe.  There are other possibilities though.  It is possible that the trombone affects exactly how the lips vibrate in some way.  So the buzz outside the horn, whether live or recorded, may not be the same input as the buzz on the horn.
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Tim Richardson
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« Reply #13 on: Feb 13, 2017, 07:41PM »

---snip---

I'm not going to say much more on this, as I got pretty well trounced last time I said there was proof air did not have to go THROUGH the horn from the mouthpiece for it to work.

But I think Smith makes it clear that the air from the face does NOT have to go through the horn.  This in turn pretty much relegates the "blow it to the back wall" method as an analogy that seems to work for some (although I'm not sure I've heard it work.)
---snip---

Oh.

So easy to experimentally disprove!!!

#1-Go get a supermarket plastic bag...you know, like the ones in the produce department?

#2-Place it  tightly over the bell of a trombone.

#3-Secure it with a fairly tight rubber band around the flare.

#4-Play the trombone and watch the bag expand. And watch the sound diminish as well.

DUH!!!

The lungs are the equivalent volume of a couple of those bags.

You are breathing and blowing...if you can play at all..quite deeply.

After a few breath-needing phrases...,where in the hell do you think all of that air is going?

Out your rear end?

Through your ears?

Being absorbed into the solid brass of the instrument?

Duh squared!!!

Cubed, even!!!

Before blowing:



After blowing:



So many quacks; so little time.

Sigh...

S.
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« Reply #14 on: Feb 13, 2017, 10:36PM »

I'm thinking you didn't actually watch the video, Sam.
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« Reply #15 on: Feb 14, 2017, 01:01AM »

Sam, the short version is membrane between mouthpiece and instrument, air vented out of mouthpiece, no air travelling through instrument, instrument still plays.

I think calling Dr Smith a quack is a bit of a stretch. You are quite entitled to disagree with his methods and conclusions but I don't think he's setting out to deceive.
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« Reply #16 on: Feb 14, 2017, 02:50AM »

I'm thinking you didn't actually watch the video, Sam.

and

Sam, the short version is membrane between mouthpiece and instrument, air vented out of mouthpiece, no air travelling through instrument, instrument still plays.

I think calling Dr Smith a quack is a bit of a stretch. You are quite entitled to disagree with his methods and conclusions but I don't think he's setting out to deceive.

I did indeed watch the video. What I learned from it is as follows:

If you want to make a bad, unmusical sound come out of your brass instrument, you don't need to put air through it.

Duh.

Any brass player who has popped his m'pce with the palm of his hand knows that you don't need to blow through the horn to make a sound.

So?

And...a "quack" is not necessarily a purposeful fraud. Self-deception abounds in the quack world as far as I am concerned.

This whole vid makes me think of the wonderful cartoonist Rube Goldberg.



Over and out.

S.
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« Reply #17 on: Feb 14, 2017, 04:20AM »

Richard showed this to me 1985, I made my own "special mouthpiece" that could be used to play trombone with no air passing through the trombone.
The feedbac from the vibrating air column in the trombone still works, the lip do wibrate in the trombones favorit frequencies.
 
Of corse he had lots of fun making this video! He did not seriously think this was a way to play other the for fun!

Yes you can make a trombone sound with a small loudspeaker (mice) connected to the trombone, yeas it has to be absolutelly airtight. This was done at the Royal Institute of Technology in the 70s.

I donīt see that the horrible sound he made has anything to do with this, he did a good demonstation.
Tims demonstration say something too, but that is not the same story.

The plastic bag is actually a fun idea, if you like to this demonstration with the "demo mpc" you can first play with a normal mpc and the plastic bag taped to the horn, everybody can see the bag grow when the air fills it, when using the "demo mpc" everybody can see that even if the trombone can be played like a trombone, the bag will not move or change.
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« Reply #18 on: Feb 14, 2017, 05:24AM »

He is not saying that air does not go through the horn when it is being played. He is saying that it is not "because" of the air going through the horn that the sound goes through the horn. He demonstrates beyond doubt that it is not necessary for air to travel through the horn to make sound.

FWIW..
M
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« Reply #19 on: Feb 14, 2017, 05:47AM »

He is not saying that air does not go through the horn when it is being played. He is saying that it is not "because" of the air going through the horn that the sound goes through the horn. FWIW..
M

I think that the air moves so slowly through the horn, relative to the sound wave, that the sound wave sees the air as essentially stationary. 
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