the saxoschlauch is a hybrid musical instrument made up of a saxophone mouthpiece and a corrugated insulation tube. the video below is a compilation of examples played by saxophonist Amit Dubester, demonstrating the sounds it can produce (recorded by Jan Gubser). it is followed by a list of the examples (including time stamps and additional comments), building instructions, and a short history.

1. whistles and squeaks

[saxoschlauch220x16: 220 cm in length, 16 mm in diameter]
1-1 0:09 whistle
1-2 0:32 whistle (“flute” embouchure)
1-3 0:56 whistle (trills)
1-4 1:11 whistle (with alto sax mouthpiece)
1-5 1:20 whistle + squeak
1-6 1:27 whistle + squeak + teeth on reed
1-7 1:34 whistle + squeak + teeth on reed (free)
1-8 1:47 teeth on reed

air sounds, without a whistle or with only a slight whistle, are possible with the mouthpiece attached, normal mouth placement, and without puffing the cheeks.

2. low tones

2-1 2:02 low tone
2-2 2:15 low tone (glissandi)
2-3 2:26 low tone (normal mouth placement vs. a lot of mouthpiece)
2-4 2:35 low tone + very high chirping
2-5 3:00 low tone + higher overtone
2-6 3:24 low tone + higher overtone (a lot of mouthpiece)

soft reeds are highly recommended. in the video examples, D’Addario 3.0+ reeds were used, however, softer reeds could work even better.

3. melodies

[saxoschlauch180x16: 180 cm in length, 16 mm in diameter]
3-1 3:44 melody 1
[saxoschlauch220x16: 220 cm in length, 16 mm in diameter]
3-2 3:59 melody 2
[saxoschlauch80x25: 80 cm in length, 25 mm in diameter]
3-3 4:17 melody 3

below is a transcription of melody 1 (without the rhythm). melody 2 is what comes out when the same fingerings are played on saxoschlauch220x16 rather than on saxoschlauch180x16. the intervals are different because of deviations in the making of the finger holes.


the first part of melody 3 is also based on the same fingerings, however, because of the enlarged diameter of the tube, opening and closing the finger holes changes the pitch only very slightly. the second part (starting from 4:25) demonstrates a variation in the building of saxoschlauch80x25: 3 finger holes were made on both the upper part and the lower part of the tube.

4. multiphonics

[saxoschlauch220x16: 220 cm in length, 16 mm in diameter]
4-1 4:39 low tone + higher overtone
4-2 4:50 middle-range tone + higher tone
[saxoschlauch80x25: 80 cm in length, 25 mm in diameter]
4-3 5:26 simple intervals (up to an octave)
[saxoschlauch220x16: 220 cm in length, 16 mm in diameter]
4-4 6:03 singing and playing

the saxoschlauch does not seem to produce multiphonics that are not also possible on the saxophone (although some of them are easier on the saxoschlauch). that being said, further experimentation is required.

5. percussive sounds

5-1 6:47 slap tongues
5-2 6:59 tapping on finger holes
5-3 7:10 rubbing tube with plastic card

other objects can also be used (for example, different thimbles and plectrums). a lavalier microphone is also very effective.

building instructions

step 1

get a corrugated insulation tube and cut it to the desired length. make sure that the diameter of the tube is slightly smaller than that of the mouthpiece, so it will be easy to take off the mouthpiece, reattach it, and adjust its position. tubes with a diameter of 16 mm fit the alto mouthpiece perfectly. the length of the tube determines the pitch of the lowest tone that the instrument will be able to produce. the longer the tube, the lower it will be.

step 2

make the finger holes using a soldering iron. the scheme below shows the locations of the finger holes on the instruments played in the video examples. the locations of the upper finger holes were based on the locations of the 1-2-3 keys on the alto saxophone. the lower, rectangular finger hole allows producing glissandi of up to minor/major 3rd from the lowest tone. notice that the scheme is only approximate, and when building new instruments, a preference should be given for diversity and peculiarity over uniformity and normality. have in mind also that it will be more comfortable to play tubes shorter than 150 cm curving outwards and longer tubes curving inwards (creating a circle around the player’s shoulder). because of the somewhat diagonal playing position of longer tubes, the upper finger holes should also be shifted slightly to the left.

in addition, as a result of the corrugated shape of the tube, it might be difficult to close the finger holes without letting some air escape. to prevent this, cover the parts of the tube on which the finger holes are located with a bicycle inner tube. the diameter of the bicycle inner tube should match that of the corrugated tube.


step 3

add the bell. this will not change the sound of the instrument very much, but it will look better and allow special effects like the pouring of water into it. to turn a plastic funnel into a bell, cut the short tail of the funnel so its diameter is slightly larger than that of the tube; insert the tube and wrap its end with a black shoelace; glue the shoelace; and pull the funnel towards the end of the tube, fixing both parts together.


step 4

finally, tie the tube (and the funnel, if the tube is longer than 150 cm) using another black shoelace. follow the examples shown in the photos below (taken by Shira Agmon).


update 1

add a thumb rest. get a plastic spacer; using a soldering iron, make a dent so it will fit the tube; place a sticky pad on the other side of the spacer; and glue the side with the dent to the tube. the spacer in the photos below has a diameter of 2 cm and is 2 cm long.


update 2

it is possible to attach the mouthpiece to a tube with a diameter of 25 mm by fixing a short 16-mm-in-diameter tube to it with Blu Tak, which will function as an adapter. tubes with a diameter of 25 mm are slightly lower in pitch and significantly louder. it is easier to play overtones with them but more difficult to play low tones.


with duct tape, it is possible to attach the mouthpiece to a tube having a diameter of 20 mm, with which it is relatively easy to play both overtones and low tones. however, it is tiresome to take off and reattach the mouthpiece, and the glue often wears off over time because of saliva. the very first version of the saxoschlauch was made from a mouthpiece attached to a tube with a diameter of 20 mm.


the origin of the saxoschlauch can be traced back to the idea of an “altered saxophone” (which came up during the 2nd brainstorming session i had for CompositionCloud). its development can be considered a linear, collaborative process. first, i asked composer Giovanni Santini to borrow his saxophone. after telling him about my plans to alter the instrument, he also gave me a corrugated tube and suggested that i try to attach the mouthpiece to it. then, fascinated by the sounds it produced, i decided to take the idea a step further and to make finger holes in the tube, and the first experiments in this direction were carried out in collaboration with saxophonist Patrick Stadler, who also played the instrument in public for the first time (see d1-7_sxschVR-Nikel). the idea of adding a bell to it came during my presentation of CompositionCloud at the summer course of the Tzlil Meudcan Festival 2015 from Bnaya Halperin-Kaddari, a composer and participant in the course, and a revised version was designed and built after working with saxophonist Amit Dubester (who recorded the examples listed above) and saxophonist Marc Vilanova Pinyol (see 10d_6sxsch-MVP_Wsb) and with the technical assistance of scenographer and technician Jonas Vogel. in March 2016, Amit and saxophonist Valentine Michaud presented the saxoschlauch at the 2016 VIENNA INTERNATIONAL SAXFEST (iS1iS2iS3_sxsch90a180a220-ADaVM).

the saxoschlauch can also be heard and seen in 24d24iS_esO4bsPSpbVRssS2-EPB (played by saxophonist Remo Schnyder, Ensemble Phoenix Basel) and in ccloudlab1, the first laboratory of CompositionCloud (also played by Amit).

in 2017, Giovanni wrote a piece for saxoschlauch, tape, and live electronics, which was played by saxophonist Michele Bianchini (Ensemble Suono Giallo) at the 2nd International ilSUONO Contemporary Music. a version for saxoschlauch and live electronics was presented at the XVIII World Saxophone Congress.

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