Knowledge and Skill become Music!
In the course of a research project with the Bern University of the Arts (BUA), two of Switzerland’s most important materials research institutions, EMPA and the Paul-Scherrer-Institut, studied the alloy of various original French Romantic instruments and their impact on the sound of brass instruments. Our own material replicates the most commonly-occuring alloys.
Our goal was to bring the sound of our historical copies even closer to those of originals, and especially to copy the BUA French Romantic instruments as authentically as possible. It is possible to come close to acheiving an “historical” sound using historically-informed production techniques and by copying the original dimentions of an instruments, but by using the appropriate starting materials it is possible to come even closer. From this “French Brass” we build appropriate Classical and Romantic instruments.
The alloy used in the golden age of Nuremberger instrument making has been recently throuroughly studied by Hannes Vereecke from the Institut für Wiener Klangstiel (Music Acoustics). When we were looking for producers of the “French Brass” alloy, we came across an alloy which closely approximates those of the Nuremburger instruments. We use this “Nuremberger Brass” for various Renaissance and Baroque instruments.
We found it interesting, if costly, that in our experience both the “French” and “Nuremburger” brass demanded an even slower shaping than modern commercial brass. Already at the sheet-metal production phase, this historical alloy demands slower working techniques. The desired thickness is acheived through hammering—a traditional technique that is used also into the bell- and rolled-tube-making stage. Through these delicate shaping processes, the material takes on extraordinary qualites. The structure of the metal becomes compacted and has, by comparison with modern brass, markedly different vibration and resonance properties, which can be both felt by the player and heard in the sound.