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This other arrangement of keys at the boot of the baritone oboe of Sep 16, 2018 has advantages:


  • Pyramidal frames hold the boot firmly together so the keys fit precisely.
  • Transmissions from the main joint are easy and the disassembled main joint protects them.
  • The keys can be light and still stiff.
  • The keys are easily synchronized and adjusted.

The toneholes can be tilted so the covers move perpendicularly to them. Not displayed here.

With easy adaptations, the arrangement of keys applies to similar instruments if designed with a boot. This includes the English horn, lower tárogatók, saxophones, rothphones, sarrusophones, optionally with my automatic cross-fingerings.

Marc Schaefer, aka Enthalpy

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  • 1 month later...

This is an example of a hand rest on a flute, gratefully pinched from the bass YFL-B441


For the systems I propose, where both thumbs must move freely, it can inspire both hand rests at the flute. Some non-horizontal instruments may need an adapted shape.

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Most concert flutes have a low natural B presently so my system must have it too. Rather than adding an optional sixth synchronized cover at the foot joint, it's better to shift all keys and fingerings a halftone lower and have the low B on all instruments, as it serves for trills. Here's the fingering chart, updated from Jul 02, 2017 here:


All qualities are kept, including easy slurs and trills using the standard fingerings on both lower octaves, and perfect cross-fingerings for all notes, including the third octave F#, G#, Bb, B and further in the fourth octave. The 7th and 9th modes could be added.

Maybe we can have a register key for the first five notes of the second register. With its long button along the five thumb buttons for simultaneous use, and a tiny hole.

Marc Schaefer, aka Enthalpy

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Here's a system with simple keyworks for the Soprito, the piccolo reed instrument that plays on its higher modes, about a seventh or octave higher than written.

This system has only one tone hole per halftone position and independent keys. Most fore fingers operate two buttons and covers. The covers are closed at rest except the four lowest, so the musician lowers fewer fingers, which eases cross-fingerings.


The fingers can operate the button pairs at different phalanges or both with the tips, as suggested there
experiments shall decide.

The thumbs move no cover but about four duplicated register keys not displayed on the drawing.

These fingerings are expectedly as difficult as the flute's one.

Marc Schaefer, aka Enthalpy

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The more recent automatic cross-fingerings I described
 here on May 14, 2018 and Jun 03, 2018
open four or more adjacent holes at the main transition, and open 1 or 2 fork holes early in the high register.

So would these automatic cross-fingerings suffice for a flute, which badly needs them?

I doubt it. At system C, overcrowding imposes smaller direct holes at the upper end. This is bad for the timbre there and for the ease of the highest notes. At system D, the many consequent holes increase the acoustic losses, undesired.

Would CAD drawings and trials bring a good surprise? I'm not optimistic for the flute.

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The Nov 10, 2018 flute system can have a common register key for the medium B, C, C#, D but not for the altissimo Bb to F - at least according to my figures.

From altissimo Bb to F, the pressure node just right of the lip plate moves too much. The flute's pressure node pinned near the embouchure worsens this, a reed eases it. As the extreme notes create more pressure under the register hole, losses increase. It would need more holes, each for about 3 notes like the bassoon has - not quite seducing.


For medium B to D, the common set of register holes would be just below the left index' C cover. Maybe the index can manage them too as at the oboe, especially if the holes reside in the cover, but I prefer a long button at both thumbs, along the buttons for B to D.

If the set of holes is 14kH inductive (I take V similar to Pa and A to m3/s), at 539Hz in the medium register the two half-colums must compensate it by 2*3.2pF or 2*1.6mm of their length. That's 0.5% detuning which the instrument design can compensate. Widening the low joint would be fantastic if this reinforces the low notes.

I take holes 8mm long because I imagine shorter ones would increase the losses unproportionally when playing forte. If I'm wrong, have fewer shorter holes.

Drill bits exist for D=0.3mm so 10 holes make the 14kH. Many small holes increase the losses at identical inductance to suppress the low register better. This may be new. The oboe has a slit for that purpose. A laser machine, preferably pulsed, can cut deep slits. The pad should cover all holes directly, as a chamber below the pad would create damping at some frequency. Against moisture, a thin water-repellant layer may help. The basoon has already a narrow long "whisper hole".

The tone holes increase losses, maybe processes still unknown too. Without them, radiation, viscosity and conductivity losses for arbitrary 1Pa (all rms) antinode pressure in a bare cylindrical L=632mm D=19mm air column are
* 1.5+5.5+2.6=9.6nW at medium 539Hz;
* 0.4+3.9+1.9=6.2nW at low 269Hz.

The 75mm2 set of 10* D=0.3mm L=8mm register holes increases the losses when open, hopefully enough for a stable and pure second mode:
* at 539Hz and 0.27*1Pa hence 8.1mm/s flow, by 0.25nW or +3%;
* at 269Hz and 1Pa hence 60mm/s, by 9.9nW or *2.6.

On a flute with low B, the medium D may not use the register hole, which can be more specialized and efficient.


A seducing alternative would add at both thumbs 6 smaller keys like the left index has at the Boehm flute. Small holes increase the instrument's losses little. These would be at perfect locations and serve also for the altissimo register. 11 buttons at the thumbs, enough to make bassoonists happy.


Pressing twin buttons with a thumb eases the fingerings, and the many open holes at perfect locations ease the altissimo register emission.

Marc Schaefer, aka Enthalpy

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This shows flutes with four systems, three already described and one coming here, retroactively named A B C D:


The differences reside high at the main joint.


The D flute system has four tone holes above the left hand, without overlapping due to other trills and octave switch, and moved by both thumbs.


True tone holes high at the main joint shall emit altissimo notes easily, 3 or 4 fork holes too. Though, the additional big holes may increase the losses at other registers. Maybe the bore can be slightly wider for balanced improvement everywhere.

I've drawn the added tone holes aligned, consistently with a rumour about losses, but the keys would be simpler if at the tube's side.

I ignore which system is better. At least, they're very similar, so trying them is a smaller effort.

Marc Schaefer, aka Enthalpy

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Here's a system D contrabasson, bent at the bell to be less tall. What would be the boot at a bassoon is folded to the front for compactness. Disassembled, it fits in a manageable case.


The right and left tubes could very well be swapped so the left fingers' tips reach between the tubes to make simpler keys.

Only the two low B and Bb keys cross an assembly line, plus the hypothetic register keys at the bocal.

All tone hole covers can be at wooden parts, and the bell and U-turns are passive. Some strict woodwind manufactures should find it easier. But the bell, turn and two nearby cylinders can be one metal joint.

The metal walls could be electroformed as already suggested
Jan 01, 2018 and May 02, 2017 and nearby
while graphite composite might perhaps replace wood too if the polymer matrix dampens enough (polyketone? Abs?)
Nov 01, 2017 and followers
Whiskers-loaded polymers can be machined similarly to wood while filament winding can make bent shapes
Nov 01, 2017

Marc Schaefer, aka Enthalpy

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  • 8 months later...

After two centuries gap, the oboe da caccia was revived few decades ago, as copies of a museum piece unable to play
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it has a nice sound, soft and clear, distinct from the instruments common presently. But as a faithful copy of the museum piece, it has antique recorder-like fingerings.

I propose that the oboe da caccia receives my even fingerings, for instance the ones described here on Jul 30 and Jul 23, 2017.

  • With very few keys, where the covers for low notes can be on the rear, the aspect is preserved.
  • Regular hole positions make a better instrument, easier to play and with even sound, able to reach higher notes.
  • Designing the new set of tone holes will be easier with regular hole positions than with the present oboe system.
  • Very few people play the historic fingerings. Newcomers have to learn fingerings anyway: better my simple ones than the awkward historic ones.
  • If the curved body is kept, the oboe system is about impossible to build, while mine is easy.

Just in case a luthier is tempted by wide tone holes on a double reed instrument: Sax, Triebert and Gautrot failed. It's better to take some diameters from the historic instrument. Maybe chambers aren't needed, if the body's fabrication method dampens the strident high frequencies enough, as I believe to hear.

Marc Schaefer, aka Enthalpy

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  • 2 weeks later...

Among my proposals for the oboe and similar, the D even fingering variant takes the fewest and simplest keys. How many bare holes can it use?

None at the five thumb holes. Not at the second index hole that should be placed properly a semitone higher than the first. Supposedly not at the pinkies as they are short.

6 holes remain. They can all be bare at the oboe and oboe d'amore, for agile, silent, reliable, light and cheap instruments. At the oboe da caccia and cor anglais, the left hand holes can be bare, plus two at right hand: same R1 to R2 spacing as on the bassoon, comfortable but for children. The baritone oboe can have two bare holes at left hand.


The real distances will be slightly smaller. The table takes half-wavelengths in air, but small tone holes are higher on the air column.

I would not have long skewed tone holes as the bassoon has. They behave differently at the upper register, but the cross-fingerings there should fit a whole instrument family. Chambers eccentric above the tone hole narrow bore can gain a few mm.

Marc Schaefer, aka Enthalpy

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On 5/9/2018 at 10:31 AM, Enthalpy said:

I used to play the violin, the piano, the saxophone, the flute, the contrabass tuba and the bassoon but stopped all when I moved to a hotel in Munich. I will play the winds again some time.

Wow:eek:, impressive...The last time I played the winds was in school. I played the flute also in the army cadets band (and at home), i wanted to play the side drum but they made me play flute instead. I actually really enjoyed it, I got pretty good, wish I'd kept playing. This is a seriously impressive thread, you'd make one hell of a one man band. 

Its makes me want to learn to play an instrument again. Always fancied the banjo or saxophone. Do you like jazz? If you do, enjoy....


err..if you don't, sorry for ruining your thread. And thanks for the reply the other day.

Edited by Curious layman
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Thanks for your interest!

Yes, I like jazz, though I started the alto sax for classical music, after hearing it at the pictures at an exhibition. I have a record of Take five with Gerry Mulligan at the baritone, very nice sound.

Any woodwind is easier than the flute, and by much. The sax has easy fingerings but has less known shortcomings. Very high in demand are the oboe (needs only a huge pressure and extra-strong lips), the bassoon (rather easy, especially as compared with the flute), the bass clarinet (works very well, easier than the soprano, have your own and orchestras seek you already).

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  • 2 weeks later...

The D variant of my oboe even fingerings makes a sleek cor anglais, simpler than a baritone oboe, almost as simple as a soprano oboe, as holes spacing decides it. I don't display the thumb pushers nor the register keys.


After hearing the effect of Pmma, the materials clearly matter at an oboe, and I would shun brass and nickel silver for the bow, the bell or pear and maybe the bocal, but would consider lossy alloys that can be electroformed: NiCo, Pcm, sterling silver, said to improve bassoon bocals.
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Some polymers might improve the body: damping polyketones, and stiff and damping liquid crystal polymers, possibly with graphite choppers or filaments. They might outperform Dalbergia and they can cross borders. Better, they avoid the plastic lining in the oboe or bassoon bore.

Silver tenons are said to improve wooden flutes. I've proposed a model that speaks against cork, there
illustrated by a clarinet, but this would apply to all double reeds too, including at the bocal.

I've drawn a low Bb because the oboe has it. Stowasser's bell with many small holes shall even out the emission and timbre bette than the pear shape. All cor anglais should have this alternative, maybe an addition to existing instruments. I suppose Stowasser's holes could replace everything Heckel added to the pear of his heckelphone. Lupophone?

Bending the low joint would shrink a cor anglais to an alto saxophone's size. Electroforming seems easiest if some alloy dampens enough. I've suggested processes to make bows of wood or polymer, or to obtain them by filament winding
Aug 16, 2019 04:16 PM - Dec 04, 2018 - Mar 30, 2019 02:34 PM and around

I've shown from the side the stiff pyramids that connect both branches of the bow and the keys' axis for reliable keyworks and hopefully better sound. See also the baritone oboe.

Marc Schaefer, aka Enthalpy

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All bow joint covers move by the same angle as they are one single axle and synchronized, in the design I proposed on
Sep 16, 2018 - Sep 23, 2018 - Sep 26, 2019 12:06 AM

Wind instruments benefit from wide bows, so two holes there are nearer to the axis, and their covers lift less. Besides choosing the bow radius, which the narrow bore of the oboe and bassoon families ease, these two holes can be put more outwards than the bore's middle line, and all other holes more inwards, to minimize the difference. The hole diameter can also compensate the lift height somewhat.

Covers for lower notes must lift higher. Offsetting the axle closer to the higher branch does that, tilting it closer to the higher notes too.

The chimney rims need not be parallel to the bow plane. Pads work better if the rim is rather perpendicular to the movement.

Marc Schaefer, aka Enthalpy

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If an instrument with my even fingerings has the thumb platters on a straight joint, a common tilted axis can still vary the lift of the platters according to the note height.

As my even fingerings let all notes open all platters below the main transition, the platter lift can vary smoothly with the note height.

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  • 3 months later...

This soprito system F makes near-automatic cross-fingerings. The very high instrument resonates a soprano-long air column on modes 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 9 and 12.

One upper finger at a time presses the keys, like playing one note on a piano. Trills with the pinkie (needed only at the lowest note) and between the hands need more training, but fingerings are equally easy for all tonalities, the highest notes too.

In each mode, the eight upper fingers produce one semitone each by pressing one main hole button. Some trills jump across the modes.

Around each main hole button, more buttons open additional isolated holes to impose and ease the higher modes. Adjacent semitones share most of these buttons. The musician presses with a single finger a main hole button and optional isolated hole button(s) to create the pattern of open and closed holes.


The three lowest main hole covers are open at rest, as seen on the lower figure, and connected so 3R closes two covers and 4R three. The dummy main button for 1R moves no cover. The four highest main hole covers are closed at rest and connected so 3L opens two covers, 2L three and 1L four. Consider the mechanism I proposed on Jul 02, 2017
The spring force must be minimized. The covers are small.

Five buttons surround each main hole button to open isolated hole covers some distance higher than the main hole:

  • 2 semitones = major second, defining the mode ratio 8/9.
  • 3 = minor third, 5/6.
  • 4 = major third, 4/5.
  • 5 = fourth, 3/4.
  • 7 = fifth, 2/3.

Adjacent main holes and buttons making notes a semitone apart, the isolated hole 3 semitones higher than a main hole is also 2 semitones higher than the next higher main hole, so the same isolated hole and corresponding button serve for both combinations: ratio 5/6 at one main hole button and 8/9 at the next one. Similarly, an isolated hole 5 semitones higher and its button for ratio 3/4 serve also 4 semitones higher than the next higher main hole, for ratio 4/5. The buttons for the isolated holes 7 semitones higher serve for only one main hole button each, but they can be combined with other buttons.

The lucky combination mimics cross-fingering for modes 2-3, 3-4, 4-5, 4-5-6, 6-8-9 and 8-9-10-12. The mode 6-8-9 reaches already a transposed G higher than a piccolo oboe, a piccolo clarinet or Eppelsheim's soprillo. Whether the available mode 8-9-10-12, as high as the piccolo flute, can be played? The specialized narrow bore and the many open isolated holes help. The heights in this text and drawings hold for an instrument transposing in C one octave higher, while a tárogató or soprillo would be in B flat.

A single set of 13 isolated holes serves for all mode ratios. Each hole cover has one key with up to 3 buttons, all moving together. At different locations, the 3 buttons make the varied intervals with the nearby main hole buttons: 2 and 3 semitones, respectively 4 and 5, respectively 7.

The isolated holes are better distinct from the main holes. They spoil the unwanted modes better if they're smaller, and their positions adjust the intonation independently. The set of isolated holes overlaps the main holes and can reside on an offset line. A drawing may come some day.

Single reeds need register keys, these help double reeds too. Each key could select one mode, with tolerance for trills. Covering only a sixth, the holes can be efficient, even be multiple at different near-nodes. I'd double the buttons at the left and right thumbs, 6+6 pieces if mode 2 needs no hole.

The keyworks are simpler than an oboe or saxophone.


For softer sound, the main holes shouldn't be too wide, especially with a double reed. This offsets their position, and also the distance to the isolated holes.

The isolated holes too can have the chambers against the strident frequencies I explained there


The instrument has 8 pedal notes an octave below the mode 2. 4 extra holes and keys, for instance at the proximal phalanges or the left fingers, or at the thumbs, would reach them continuously. Though, I don't expect 4 octaves range from a soprito, and would not let a wider bore waste the high notes for low notes that a soprano makes better.

Or should the instrument be twice as short, like the soprillo, use its pedal notes and the 4 extra holes, and stop at modes less high? The mode 4-5, with fewer buttons, would already give nearly the soprillo's range. Isolated holes closer to the reed should ease the emission. But with the long column and high modes, I hope to soften the sound and stabilize the intonation.

Can instruments less high use this system? The keyworks make several joints difficult, and a soprano would be as long as a tenor, not good optically neither. Folded in three like a trumpet?

Can a bassoon of normal length use the pedal notes and for the high notes the present easier fingerings? Assembly seems difficult then, while my alternative system there
has good joint lengths, simple keys and half-way decent fingerings.

A high clarinet is less simple. The widely spaced modes need 9 or rather 10 main holes. The mode 3 an octave higher than a soprano needs a body as long as an alto.

Marc Schaefer, aka Enthalpy

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Here's the aspect of a system F soprito with its near-automatic cross-fingerings. Experiments will decide where the side holes are, and the shape of the keys is widely symbolic.

Only the three covers for the right hand main covers are open at rest and reside near the body's top line. All other holes are closed at rest. The left hand main holes reside at the right and all isolated holes at the left body side, clearing the way for the buttons. The isolated holes are small and often yellow on the sketch, not easy to find. From the fingering chart, I swapped the right and left buttons, so only the right hand eclipses four isolated holes. The buttons can be offset to match the finger lengths.

The notes indicate the fundamental mode of a hole. The soprito uses higher modes.

The colours match the previous fingering chart. The isolated hole buttons with two colours serve with two main hole buttons for different intervals.


Except if spanning two joints with a transmission, each key has one cover and is brazed as one stiff part, even though the ones with several buttons are represented multicolour. The three right-hand main hole covers are synchronized, the four left-hand ones too, see my proposal there

With up to three keys aligned over the same axle as on the Boehm flute, four and five axles hold the main and isolated hole keys, hence the five views. I didn't check how easily nor independently the keys assemble on the body. No concentric shafts here, but they might reduce the number of axles. Only one leapfrog, around the dummy 1R button.

Register holes, maybe not needed with a double reed, fit all above the buttons.


For easier high notes, the bore must be narrower than a saxophone, a bit narrower than an oboe. My estimates suggest that the susceptance of a single reed is then too big, better a double reed, smaller than on the oboe

I believe a body of metal, Abs, Pp... doesn't fit a high instrument. At Yamaha's Ypc62 piccolo, the grenadilla head eases the high notes over the silver one. Liquid crystal polymer, optionally loaded with graphite choppers, could outperform the endangered Dalbergia melanoxylon

Polymers make big parts easily, and the soprito is as small as a soprano saxophone, so I wouldn't have a separate joint at the lowest holes then. If needed, assembling a joint carrying register holes seems easier anyway.

The tenons could be of silver instead of wood and cork to ease the high notes. It's said to improve wooden flutes
Fitting the reed on a silver bocal, as on the English horn, would avoid the lossy cork, if small reeds accept that. The bocal must then fit stiff on the body, say at a metal insert, and can hold register holes.

Cork pads ease the high notes versus leather-covered felt.

All these means harden the sound. Chambers at the holes shall squeeze the strident frequencies selectively


The pedal notes are accessible without extra holes after all, if using isolated holes as main holes. So shall the same system and a wider bore make a soprano too?

I'm not enthusiastic about that. Multiple goals would need compromises and make the isolated holes less good. I don't believe the same reed and bore make a soprito and soprano. For a soprano, my even fingerings and my automatic cross fingerings are better
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Marc Schaefer, aka Enthalpy

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Here's a basson with quasi-automatic cross fingerings system A, loosely inspired by the soprito system F of Dec 15 and 22, 2019
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On mode 2 and higher, the musician presses one finger at a time, like on a piano to play a single note. The finger's main button closes all main holes above the main transition and opens them all below. By pressing nearby buttons too, the same finger opens isolated holes to easily make the equivalent of cross-fingerings.

Bassoons span some two octaves with tone holes, what other instruments can't, and their high holes stabilize the high register. Their lowest 7 holes don't serve for mode 2 but the next ones can be closed even on very high notes. I mimicked that on the quasi-automatic system.

Assembling a tenor and a bass joint to a boot would be unreasonable here. The tenor and bass joint hold permanently together and extend to the short removable U-turn. The longer bell has two tone holes. This makes a case as long as for a tenor saxophone, thinner and lighter. Long parts of Liquid Crystal Polymer (LCP) or polyketone are easy, of polypropylene and sycamore too, while Dalbergia is problematic for other reasons.


  • The 4 lowest holes are open at rest. The left fore fingers close one each at the proximal phalanges.
  • The next 3 low holes are open at rest. Three left thumb buttons, replicated at the right thumb, close 1, 2 or 3 holes.
  • The 7 main holes make 8 semitones in mode 1 and, helped by isolated holes, in higher modes.
  • 15 isolated holes on the tenor joint overlap partly the main holes. Each has one key and one to three buttons close to varied main buttons.
  • Yet unknown combinations of the isolated holes shall make higher notes one mode 1 only.
  • Or add main holes for the high mode 1, with buttons at proximal phalanges of the right fore fingers, or at the still underused bassoonist's thumbs.
  • Register keys high on the bocal could occupy the thumbs and help some modes, for instance to favour mode 12 over 8.

To synchronize 3 or 4 covers, consider the mechanism I proposed on Jul 02, 2017
The spring force must be minimized for comfort.


The right fore fingers close at the bass joint 3 main holes open at rest: 1R has a dummy button but real isolated holes buttons, 2R closes one main hole, 3R two, 4R three.

The left fore fingers open at the tenor joint 4 main holes closed at rest: 4L opens one, 3L two, 2L three and 1L four.


Four buttons surround each main hole button to open isolated hole covers some distance higher than the main hole:

  • 5 semitones = fourth, defining the mode ratio 3:4.
  • 7 = fifth, 2:3.
  • 8 = minor sixth, 5:8.
  • 12 = octave, 1:2.

Adjacent main holes and buttons making notes a semitone apart, the isolated hole 8 semitones higher than a main hole is also 7 semitones higher than the next higher main hole, so the same isolated hole and button combine with two main buttons for 5:8 and 2:3.

The buttons for ratio 3:4 depress the nearby 1:2 button too to define a ratio 2:3:4. These buttons serve for one main hole button each, but they can combine with other buttons.

The lucky combination mimics cross-fingering for modes 1:2, 2:3, 2:3:4, 3:4:6, 4:5:6:8 and 6:8:9:12. Many opened high isolated holes help high notes. Mode 6 (3:4:6) satisfies about any score, mode 8 (4:5:6:8) goes as high as most bassoonists do in stunts, while French bassoons sometimes reach the E in illustrated mode 12 (6:8:9:12) to octaviate the Sacre du printemps.


My system A puts isolated holes at better positions than present bassoons do, and spread evenly, while the French and Heckel systems lack some holes and often open several adjacent very long holes for venting and intonation, which can't help the emission. Some of their holes approach lambda/4 length at the high notes, making them inefficient. My isolated holes, one per semitone and specialized, can occupy the best locations hence be made lossy to spoil the unwanted modes.

The main holes can't be wide on a double reed instrument, so they will remain very high at the air column. I believe they can be narrower and shorter than presently thanks to covers, and be spaced evenly. Expect them far higher than the isolated holes of same name.

The aspect of the instrument could come, later hence maybe.

Marc Schaefer, aka Enthalpy

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  • 2 weeks later...

Erratum: on the last drawing of Dec 30, 2019, the four buttons for the lowest notes should be on the other side.


I could keep the nice bassoon's aspect with the system A automatic cross-fingerings. The hands' position are kept too.

No tenor and bass joints separable from a boot here; instead, the narrow and wide joints can be of separate raw material but are kept together for transport. To clean the bore, the U-turn is removable, of usual or modified design
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Undisplayed parts link the narrow and wide joints. They must be very stiff, collectively in all directions. Their shape change the instrument's aspect, for instance to resemble a Heckel system. Already the cover for the U-turn does much. The linking parts could carry many keys.


The hole positions are approximative, both along the air column and around the tubes, which will depend on the difficult keyworks' design. All synchronised covers symbolised with arrows (for instance, opening C with 1Ld opens B, Bb and A too) sit next to an other on one same joint

Isolated holes use to sit close to a pressure node on all instruments. As opposed, throat tone holes are very inductive and sit one to three semitones higher than the pressure node on my French bassoon. Timbre demands it on a double reed. Whether the main transition gives the natural series of harmonics then? On my bassoon it does for some notes, for others not.

Is it desireable? Maybe. In case a mode is a semitone higher than the natural series, reorganised buttons can play it. I only doubt that all notes in a mode shift by the same amount, and that all modes land on tuned notes then.

Bassoons have no identifiable barrel in their bocal, maybe it would help. Adjustments there, and as usual downstream, tune the higher modes. The positions of the isolated holes influence the height too, but pulling too much degrades the emission and muffles the sound.

My sketch suggests six main holes at the throat for the high first mode, rather than misusing isolated holes with bad compromises. The right proximal phalanges shall operate them, plus the thumb for trills, unless mode 2 can start lower for trills.

If the sound gets shrill with many open isolated holes at high modes, consider split isolated holes
They can serve for the throat main holes too.

The aspect of the keys might come. Some day and maybe.

Marc Schaefer, aka Enthalpy

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The automatic basson system A can't let the 3:4 (green) key just push on the 1:2 one (orange). I had proposed it on Dec 30, 2019
but the pushed key would get open also when the pushing key opens for other ratios, which wouldn't work.

A separate button can correct that. The musician never presses the 3:4 directly, but rather this button that pushes on both 3:4 and 1:2, which are independent from an other. 1:2 remains directly accessible with its button.

This needs one part more per upper finger, articulated like the others, and one set of adjusted corks more, with failure risks and noises.


The present system B basson with quasi-automatic cross fingerings keeps all keys independent and adds no separate button. The musician must hence press both buttons, 3:4 (green) and 1:2 (orange), for the modes 4, 8 and 12. I've grouped them to enable that.


The rest is the same as system A: the modes, their span... I've indicated buttons for separate throat holes that avoid compromises. System B keeps the instrument's aspect and holes of system A depicted on Jan 12, 2019.

4R moves up to 6 covers so the spring force should be minimized. I've displayed the 3:4 and 1:2 buttons at the right of the main buttons for the right hand too, hoping to reduce the force and to simplify the keys, but if 1:2 is too difficult to catch without 3:4, then both can go to the left of the main buttons.

Marc Schaefer, aka Enthalpy

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Here's a possible aspect of the isolated hole keys for the bassoon system B.

I display isolated (or lone) hole keys only, hence only the narrow and wide joints. Keys for low, main and throat holes may come later. The fifteen keys fit on eight lines which have individual views.


Each key is a single part without transmission hence silent and has one cover and one to three buttons whose function colour the key. Electroforming
can make thin tubes and parts for light stiff leys.

All shafts can hold between conical screws here. Three shafts over a static long axle would save one shaft line. Concentric shafts would accept fewer lines.

Guides like on a saxophone may help the long shafts. Three covers that are far from shaft ends need special measures.

A bitmap drawing can't tell how to arrange the shafts. Maybe two layers of four shafts, with arms that pass over the main hole keys. This imposes a sequence to mount and demount, alas.


The four main hole covers and shafts opened by the left hand at the narrow joint's bottom would sit at the side of the lone holes and shafts, nearer to the wide joint.

The right hand closes three main hole covers at the wide joint's bottom. Their shafts can run at the side of the left hand lone hole shafts, nearer to the wide joint. Grouped shafts give comfort when pressing several buttons.

The thumbs' low holes can sit at the wide joint's rear, the left hand's low holes at the outer side of the wide joint and bell, the right hand's throat holes at the upper outer side of the narrow joint, and the trill covers at the narrow joint's rear.


I'd have the main connection between both joints, permanent and stiff in all directions, around mid-height if aesthetics permits. The carrying ring is nearer to the centre of gravity there, and at the wide joint side please, so the instrument orients naturally well. Other connections near the ends should allow different expansion.

All holes in the narrow joint are at the dry side. Their covers could be forced open in the transport case with few foam wedges that press the buttons.

Marc Schaefer, aka Enthalpy

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Following the isolated holes on Jan 19, 2019, here is a possible aspect of the low, main and throat holes and keys for the bassoon system B.


There are 19 low, main and throat holes, covers and keys, most with a single button. Two covers at the bell have a transmission between their interrupted keys. Three covers have a button for each thumb.

Total 34 holes exceed a Heckel system (around 29 holes). My even system D instead is simpler than Heckel, but without quasi-automatic cross-fingerings

The individual keys seem simpler and quieter than a Heckel system: no transmission between front and rear, one moving part per cover, very few adjustments, small parts on shafts. Wide thin tubes would stiffen the long shafts
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The synchronization among right hand covers, left hand covers, thumb covers is not displayed, example there
The trill covers don't really need synchronization after all.

The F# main hole is below the buttons despite being displayed. The whole right hand could shift higher so 4R is directly above this cover, or it could reside between covers.

Some centre front locations pass 11 shafts in some 30mm width, I didn't try to show that. Several layers help, concentric shafts too, but that's overcrowded. CAD would help. Lone hole keys could be a top layer and be mounted last.

Depending on material cost and availability, the narrow and wide joints could be a single part. Carrying on both shoulders, I care little about weight. I know no cost for LCP, but polyketone is cheap
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Marc Schaefer, aka Enthalpy

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  • 2 weeks later...

I've adapted the bassoon's quasi-automatic system B as the quasi-automatic system E for the oboe, saxophone and similar. It's not strikingly simple like the even fingerings system D
but it shall ease the high notes' emission and fingerings.

The isolated holes are specialized hence optimized in size and loss, maybe split
and they reside up to the written A position to ease the high notes. Up to B seems accessible at an oboe or sopranino saxophone.

The long fingerings and many opened isolated holes should make high notes better in tune and nicer at the high saxophones, tárogató, oboe. The tiny oboe's tone holes attenuate high components, but isolated holes improve the resonance at higher modes.

Other (quasi-) automatic systems have isolated holes less high on the air column, they open no isolated hole in mode 2, are globally less capable, but still need three buttons around each main button
so the present one seems better despite its mode 12 is overkill for a soprano saxophone.


I've put 4 low holes closed by 1L to 4L at the proximal phalanges. Then, the isolated holes reach A. The simple independent keys for low holes fit curved low saxophones more easily. The right hand is then just above its main holes, a semitone lower than usual, and the left hand over its main holes too, a bit lower than usual.

The main and isolated holes are transposed from the bassoon's quasi-automatic system B, explanations there.

4 throat holes extend the mode 1 to reach mode 2. The right proximal phalanges shall open the independent keys.

Maybe two low holes can make the trills between modes 1 and 2. Or have extra keys, say at 3L and 4L.

The isolated holes should make register holes unnecessary. The thumbs are free if needed. Fingers 1 play also higher than fingers 4, so non-bassoonists should feel easy.


The oboe bore, narrower than a piccolo flute, can resonate strongly more than an octave beyond the usual range. Many efficient isolated holes could extend the soprano oboe to the soprito's range, fascinating possibility.
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I doubt that one oboe reed covers that range, but the musician could swap a simple top part and reed on one oboe to play an octave higher. Maybe a less wide tárogató could also swap a barrel, mouthpiece and reed. A high saxophone?


The best notation is soprano-like at all heights, whatever reed the musician decides to use, with much 8va and 15a sopra, and double treble clef.


Could the flute use this system? Maybe perhaps. The high isolated holes would help the altissimo but demand a shorter head than usual despite it's not cylindrical. Stronger finger movements need also something to hold the body more firmly.


Hints at the keyworks could come.

Marc Schaefer, aka Enthalpy

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I suggested on Feb 09, 2020 a smaller reed and adapted instrument upper part to concentrate on high notes

I expect a bassoon with my quasi-automatic system B (here on Jan 18, 2020 and around) to resonate well on mode 12, so if reeds adequate for the lowest notes can't play that high, musicians could just raise the range by an octave with a smaller reed and a bocal that keeps the tune. Maybe a heckelphone reed, or just a shortened bassoon reed, snip snip.

And, err, lone holes are accessible individually on my system B, just in case the mode 12 doesn't suffice.

Bassoonists like to extend the instrument's range, carry bunches of bocals, and fiddle with the reeds all the time, so if my system B exists some day, luthiers should offer this option early.

Marc Schaefer, aka Enthalpy

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