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The Effect of a Lacquer Finish on the Timbre of a French Horn

Thalia Estrella
[1] 2.671 Instrumentation and Measurement

Abstract Results
Small Tube Sound Pressure Response
When choosing a finish, French horn players have many options, from raw brass, to 0.8
Thick Plate Offset Sound Pressure Response

plating, to lacquer; however, many players will make a decision based on the finishs

Sound Pressure
0.6 4

impact to the sound before they choose it based on aesthetics. The theoretical 0.4
resonant frequency of an open-closed cylindrical air column, such as the tubing of a

Sound Pressure
0.2 1
0 0.05 0.1 0.15 0.2 0.25 0.3 0.35 0.4
French horn, depends on the length of the tube. The vibrational frequency of a flat 0 Time (s)
Impact Hammer Force
platesuch as a bell in an instrumentdepends on thickness, dimensions and -0.2 10

Potential (mV)
material properties, and it has been studied to impact the sound. By inputting a buzzing -0.4 5

signal with a French horn mouthpiece, the sound frequency response of brass tubes of -0.6 0

several lengths was measured using a microphone. Using an impact hammer, the -0.8 -5
0 0.05 0.1 0.15 0.2
sound frequency response of brass plates of several thicknesses at different impact 0 0.05 0.1
Time (s)
0.15 0.2
Time (s)

points was measured. Both were measured before and after adding lacquer. Lacquer
Thick Plate Offset Transfer Function
made the resonant frequency of brass significantly higher within 95% confidence, in the 6
x 10
-3 Small Tube Sound Power Spectrum

No Lacquer
small and medium tubes and the thick plate diagonal impact point. This means the No Lacquer
Lacquer Lacquer
5 4
instrument plays a sharper pitch. 10

Background 2

Gain (Volts-1)

Frequency of Open-Closed Vibrational Modes of a Flat 10

Cylindrical Air Column Square Plate 2


0 10
Bore diameter 2 3
b = 130 mm
a = 300mm

0 200 400 600 800 1000 10 10

= 9.95 mm Frequency (Hz) Frequency (Hz)

Fundamental Frequency of Brass Tubes Resonant Frequency of Flat Square Brass Plate
Bell thickness = 400 600
0.74 0.14 mm No Lacquer
* No Lacquer

350 Lacquer

* *

+ 2
Square plate area estimate= 400

Frequency (Hz)
Frequency (Hz)
2 250

Closed Open 200 300

[2] 200

Experiment 0
Small Medium Long
Center Offset Diagonal

Resonant Frequency of a Brass Frequency of a Flat Square Plate at

Tube of Different Lengths Different Impact Locations For the small and medium tubes, and the thick plate at the diagonal impact point,
the sound frequency was significantly higher within a 95% confidence, all with p-
Clamped brass plate values less than 0.05
Higher frequency in the music world this means a sharper pitch
Three Lengths, L,
Small, Medium, Long Recommendations:
Measure physical vibrational modes of brass plates with strain gauges
Measure the sound frequencies with thicker lacquer layers
37 mm Offset
Brass Tube The embouchure (lip pressure) of the player affects the frequency
Spirometer Impact Locations

Acknowledgements References
[1] Music with Ease, n.d from
Lip Buzzing LabQuest Logger Impact Power Instrumentation LabQuest Logger Special thanks to Ashin Modak and Dr.
Spirometer http://www.musicwithease.com/french-horn-pictures.html
Mini Pro Hammer Unit Amplifier Mini Pro Barbara Hughey for their guidance, assistance
Brass and endless support throughout this project. [2] Sound Waves and Music - Lesson 5 - Physics of Musical
tube Microphone Brass Microphone Instruments n.d from
Plate http://www.physicsclassroom.com/class/sound/Lesson-
Dec 3, 2015