Good Vibrations? The acoustical and musical effect of materials in the construction of brass instrumentsRichard Smith
In the early 1970s, there were strongly opposed views from musicians and scientists regarding the musical effect of materials in the construction of brass instruments. But then, there was little research (without computers) and no supporting evidence for either view.
At that time, many players thought that the final finish of silver, gold, lacquer or nothing-at-all gave the extra quality they were looking for.
As chief designer at Boosey & Hawkes (and Smith-Watkins from 1985), Richard Smith, using a range of specially prepared trombone bells, set out to measure the metal vibrations, the degree to which the vibrations affect the radiated sound and whether professional players can detect these differences through the ear or response at the lips. Knowledge of these results has given him a framework for the design of brass instruments to this present day.