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.

 

Trumpet A:

 

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

 

Trumpet B:

 

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.

Glastonbury Acts

May 31st, 2018 | Posted by Brian Ackerman in Uncategorized - (0 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:

https://www.gov.uk/hmrc-internal-manuals/vat-government-and-public-bodies/vatgpb7825

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.

What a Wonderful Quiz

April 30th, 2018 | Posted by Brian Ackerman in Uncategorized - (0 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?

 


The Sound of Silver

March 31st, 2018 | Posted by Brian Ackerman in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

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.

A foolish quiz!

March 29th, 2018 | Posted by Brian Ackerman in Uncategorized - (0 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.

Photo by Donnie Ray Jones (Creative Commons)

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.

photo by Senior Airman Austin Harvill

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!

 

March Music Quiz

March 1st, 2018 | Posted by Brian Ackerman in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)



 

Does music feature on your list of New Year’s Resolutions? Whether it’s learning a new instrument, playing an old one, or expressing yourself musically it can be hard to stick at. Here’s our guide to making your resolution last.

Image may contain: 1 person, playing a musical instrument and guitar

1) Have a clear goal.

Instead of a general “I want to play my clarinet more” give yourself a definitive goal that you know you can achieve with some hard work. Something like “I want to master this piece by March” or “I’m going to perform at a local concert on this date.”

That way it’s a lot easier to see progress, and having a deadline gives your resolution a little more urgency

 

 

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2) Take small steps.

Even if your goal is quite manageable it’s good to break things down into the smallest part possible. Think “this week I want to crack the first 4 bars.” If you always rush in and try and play a new piece at sight, stop and break it up into small passages, so you won’t hit a brick wall when it gets to the hard bit. It’s amazing what can be achieved just by doing a little bit every day.

 

 

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3) Reward yourself.

It’s a great feeling when these little steps fall into place, and one by one these steps get easier to take. Once you’ve reached your daily/weekly goal, give yourself a little treat (ideally nothing that conflicts with any other resolutions!) Whatever it is, it will reinforce your new good habits.

 

 

4) Tell people.

We’re social animals and although we can usually admit defeat to ourselves, we find it so much harder to admit defeat to our friends and family. Get as many people on board with your project and make them ask you how it’s going as often as they can remember. Keep a little diary on social media, and those messages of encouragement will go a long way.

Are you learning a new instrument? Consider joining or hosting a charity “Grade-1-a-thon” and gather sponsorship from family and friends (and maybe they can join too.) Not only will you achieve your personal goal, you’ll also be doing good for charity.

 

 

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5) Do it together.

Do you want to play a duet or write a commission for someone? That’s great: working together means you don’t want to let someone else down. Meeting regularly to practice is a great way to form a strong new habit. Approach a teacher and buy 10 music lessons up front, you’re more likely to take those lessons and you have someone to encourage you along the way.

 

Those are our tips for musical success for 2018. We’d love to hear what your New Year’s resolution is: let us know in the comments!