Author Archives: Brian Ackerman
Brass players often say that silver plated instruments have a “brighter” sound, but is this a trick of the eye? Once again we have put this to the test with a handy bit of spectral analysis. The question is: will there be any difference in sound?
For the test we used the same model of trumpet: the Yamaha YTR-8335 and YTR-8335S. The trumpets are identical except for the coating. As standard the 8335 has a gold lacquer, while the “S” model is silver plated.
Let’s compared the two, and I can reveal which trumpet is silver once we’ve had time to consider the results.
The YTR-8335 is a high quality instrument, and you can see this in the spectral breakdown, with many clear peaks going up the harmonic series. The peaks rise up to about 1.5kHz and drop off around 7.5kHz
The same note was played at the same volume, and as you can see the waveform is very similar. There are slight differences this time, as before there was a peak around 1.5kHz, this time the highest peak is around 700Hz. Instead of a cluster of peaks around 5kHz, there are two clear peaks at 6kHz and 8kHz.
So we have minor differences, and we can infer that Trumpet A is a “brighter” sound with more and more strong upper harmonics. But is that the silver trumpet?
I can reveal that Trumpet A is the gold lacquer, and Trumpet B is the silver plate!
Of course this result is based on just a few samples we’ve taken using simple software, and the differences are so minor I don’t really think you’d hear them every time. But for now Ackerman Music will recommend gold lacquer instruments for a nice “bright” sound.
Feel free to prove us wrong! We’d love to hear your take on silver instruments in the comments.
Here in East Sussex the local government is considering closing its Music Service, due to lack of funding from central government. The jury is still out on what changes will be made as the process moves into public consultation, but in the mean time there is one government scheme open to music students nationwide.
The Assisted Instrument Purchase Scheme (AIPS) allows students to purchase an instrument for use in their lessons without paying the VAT. This represents a saving of nearly 17% and for those thinking about a next-step instrument this can be quite a large saving!
For example an advanced student looking to purchase a wooden clarinet such as the Yamaha YCL-650, would pay the net price of £874, rather than the full price of £1049, a saving of £175.
The scheme covers all sorts of instruments, so be sure to ask when you’re looking to purchase an instrument.
To be eligible you need to have tuition from a state school or local authority: this includes playing in the orchestra. To make the purchase, go to your school or music service and request the instrument you want under the scheme. They will send us a purchase order, and receive the instrument on your behalf.
Not all schools have made use of the scheme, but the finance department or bursar should be able to find any relevant information on the government website here:
We’re a big fan of the scheme, as it allows more people to take up a musical instrument!
Have you used the scheme? How did it work for you? Let us know in the comments.
50 years ago this month, Louis Armstrong’s “What a wonderful world” topped the UK singles chart. The question is: do you remember the words?
This month we explore the use of silver in flutes. As you upgrade from student to professional the material of the flute changes from nickel to silver (and sometimes beyond that to gold or platinum!) Obviously this increases the price, but is it worth it?
Different metals have different resonance, which changes the harmonic overtones of the notes played. Let’s put theory into action and look at some flutes.
In action today we have a couple of Yamaha flutes: a nickel-body 212 and a silver-body 412. With the aid of a handy little phone app we can look at the whole spectrum of sound these flutes produce.
Firstly the nickel YFL-212
Now the silver YFL-412
As you can see the peaks on the silver flute are narrower peaks, giving the resulting sound more focus. The other main difference is a peak around 1200Hz (the second harmonic), which is almost as much as the octave, this means the silver gives a stronger overtone than the nickel, adding to the richness of the sound. The same is true for the other overtones, with much more prominent peaks shown at the higher harmonics.
With more sophisticated technology you might find these stronger overtones continue up the harmonic series, but even from our rudimentary findings it’s clear that silver flutes resonate quite differently from nickel ones.
Have you noticed a difference between the materials? Or tried a gold flute? Let us know in the comments.
Not everyone can be the next Mozart, but every child should have the chance to explore and be inspired by music. Here are our tips on how to encourage young children to embrace music.
1. Make music together, make it fun.
Most children learn best through participation. There’s a reason why if you sing “If you’re happy and you know it…” you immediately want to clap your hands. Even simple nursery rhymes with actions can get children involved in making music. Through this song/game a child learns (without knowing they’re doing it) how to sing and clap in time, learning call and response, learning about musical cues and some may even show signs of singing in key!
So although we might have heard “heads, shoulders, knees and toes” a hundred times, it’s working wonders for our budding musicians.
Musical games like action songs are great because they give a simple framework around the music, and promote child participation. You can also use any musical game which has a clear and simple participation element, such as musical statues which promotes active listening.
2. A child should feel safe exploring sound and expressing themselves.
As annoying as it gets (and here in a music shop that’s quite often) you should let children try out new sounds and just make noise. It could be bashing pans together, strumming a guitar, or trying to sing the highest note they can get. The experience of new sounds, and learning how to make those sounds that will give children confidence in music.
Having safe (and maybe expendable) musical toys and instruments around is the best way to achieve this. There are lots of percussion instruments designed for children which are ideal, or perhaps dig out that old guitar from the loft. At a young age it doesn’t have to play well, as long as the children get a chance to make some new and interesting sounds.
3. Variety is important, but repetition is key
Young children will easily get tired or doing the same thing over and over again, so having a range of activities to do is important. Picking a handful of things each time from a dozen or so is ideal.
On the other hand it is through repetition that we see development. If you’re repeating these same dozen activities over a long period there will come a time when a child can just do it. Having this sense of achievement (and the appropriate encouragement) can be a great way to inspire a young musician.
We’d love to hear what you do to inspire a young musical child. Let us know in the comments!