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Player Control of 'Brassiness' at Intermediate Dynamic Levels in Brass Instruments


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An increase in the dynamic level of a brass instrument from forte to fortissimo generally brings about a change in timbre to a much brighter sound, often described as 'brassy'. This phenomenon is due to non-linear wave propagation along the bore of the instrument, which generates significant spectral enrichment in the higher harmonics. The dynamic level at which this change occurs is not always clearly defined and some brass players have found that, by employing slight changes in embouchure, they have a degree of control over the level of brassiness at a constant dynamic. Experimental data from playing tests are presented, showing that players employing this technique are able to modify the gradient of the input pressure wave front as it is formed in the mouthpiece. Numerical simulations based on weakly non-linear shock theory, with experimental data from brassy and non-brassy mouthpiece measurements as the input boundary conditions, confirm the assumption that the increase in spectral enrichment is primarily a consequence of enhancement of non-linear wave steepening resulting from a change in shape of the waveform in the mouthpiece.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 1, 2010

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  • Acta Acustica united with Acustica, published together with the European Acoustics Association (EAA), is an international, peer-reviewed journal on acoustics. It publishes original articles on all subjects in the field of acoustics, such as general linear acoustics, nonlinear acoustics, macrosonics, flow acoustics, atmospheric sound, underwater sound, ultrasonics, physical acoustics, structural acoustics, noise control, active control, environmental noise, building acoustics, room acoustics, acoustic materials, acoustic signal processing, computational and numerical acoustics, hearing, audiology and psychoacoustics, speech, musical acoustics, electroacoustics, auditory quality of systems. It reports on original scientific research in acoustics and on engineering applications. The journal considers scientific papers, technical and applied papers, book reviews, short communications, doctoral thesis abstracts, etc. In irregular intervals also special issues and review articles are published.
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