Analysis and Design of Saxophone Mouthpieces

Participants: Song Wang and Gary Scavone

Period: 2018 - ongoing


The mouthpiece is one of the key components of a saxophone in determining its sound and playability. However, the design of mouthpieces is still highly based on empirical approaches due to the lack of scientific analyses linking variations of geometry to corresponding changes in sound quality or response. The goal of this project is to better understand the relationship between the mouthpiece geometry and the resulting sound and playing behavior. This research will help in the development of mouthpieces with customizable features and tunable acoustic responses that better couple with saxophone bodies or reeds. To this end, both numerical simulations and physical experiments are used to solve the multiphysics problems within the mouthpiece, i.e., the fluid-structure acoustic interaction (FSAI), aiming to reveal and understand the influences of the geometric parameters on the sound and playability. Three different physical fields are studied based on a variety of methods and tools:

  • This project starts with a 3D generic parametric mouthpiece CAD model (structure). A series of mouthpieces with different geometries are generated based on 3D scanned commercial mouthpieces and their variations. The mouthpiece models are either 3D printed for the acoustic and flow measurements or incorporated with computational (aero-)acoustic models.
  • The acoustics research is based on the measurement of the input impedances of the mouthpiece using the zProbe system and the finite element modeling of the mouthpiece. Two acoustic mouthpiece models are developed, including the transfer matrix model and the geometric model.
  • The fluid and aeroacoustic research involve the fluid measurement using the artificial blower, as well as the numerical simulation using the lattice Boltzmann method.