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In this project we will reverse engineer a mystical part of the saxophone: the mouthpiece. Focused on optimizing the acoustic properties, this includes making CT-scans, parametric modeling and high-grade metal printing. You will autonomously contact several experts and well known (jazz)musicians. Experience with reed or woodwind instruments is preferred! (Expert: Zjenja Doubrovski)

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3D Printed music instruments

Samenvatting van “Aeroacoustics of musical instruments”

Aeroacoustics is the study of production of sound by flows. In wind musical instruments, the sound is produced by self-sustained oscillations driven by an air flow. With a quasi-stationary pressure balance, a relation between pressure drop and distance between the reed and mouth piece of a clarinet is found. Here is the conclusion that self-sustained oscillations can only occur if the amount of work, done by the musician, is larger than the amount of energy lost by friction in the pipe, which seems obvious.

This first model is quite simple. To improve the model, the inertia of the reed should be taken into account. A damping coefficient of the reed is however almost impossible to find.  Another approach is to describe the reed and the mouthpiece in the form of a simple mass-spring oscillating system.

The frequencies produced in the clarinet are not all the frequencies we hear as a listener. The lower frequencies do not escape the instrument, while the higher frequencies do. 

The conclusion of the article is that flows in the instrument can be reasonably predicted. However, since the sound of the instrument depends on the insignificant details of the air flow, it is not efficient to predict the sound production by using flow simulation. The details in geometry, that can have a great effect on the sound quality, have been changed by musicians and craftsmen by a trial and error procedure, based on their experience and hearing. Therefore the fine tuning of the sound production will be rather the task of the musician than of the scientist.

Intro

This project concerns the old art of custom saxophone mouthpieces:

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The aim is to optimize the acoustic properties of this important part of the saxophone.

By using technologies such as CT scanning, current moutpieces can be analyzed and modeled.

High-end Additive Manufacturing (3D Printing) of metal will be used to manufacture the optimized mouthpieces.  

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