The story of a hybrid saxophone

The story of a hybrid saxophone

I was invited to be part of the jury for an amazing PhD defense about the creation of an hybrid saxophone: a saxophone that can be played acoustically but can also be turned into a MIDI controller. And you can even transform your saxophone by reading this article!

This Thursday, 21st of December, I was invited to be part of the Jury for the PhD defense of Andrew Claes, a professional saxophonist and Syos artist. The PhD was entitled "JAZZ HANDS: Open Hardware Hybrid Saxophone System" and was about the creation of a saxophone that would be at the same time an acoustic saxophone and a MIDI controller.

The defense took place inside the Royal Fine Arts Museum of Antwerp, in front of the beautiful painting "Christ Surrounded by Singing and Music-making Angels" by Hans Memling.

First, Andrew explained all the work he has done, during 5 years of research and learning to do everything by himself, to finally succeed in creating the first saxophone that can be played acoustically and also be used as a MIDI controller separately or simultaneously.

In this video you can see that this is a regular saxophone that can be played like a normal saxophone, but you also have a tube that has a breath sensor, so by breathing in the tube and not making the reed vibrate you can use the saxophone only as a MIDI controller. Then when you blow more in both the mouthpiece and the tube you can play both instruments at the same time.

The good news is, with around 200€ of material, you can also turn your saxophone into a hybrid saxophone because Andrew wrote a complete tutorial. And don't worry, the system has been designed to be reversed/uninstalled at any time, without leaving a single trace into your saxophone.

The second part of the defense was a concert which was really interesting because Andrew was playing with a drummer robot and he also designed a whole process of live scoring for the string quarter. So he was improvising and the system was creating a complete score for the quartet in real time (well actually they had a 8 bars delay) based on what he was playing.

I made a small video for you:

Such an amazing night and such an amazing work! Congratulations for this tremendous work Andrew!