UW Music Professor’s Invention Featured on KUOW Interview with Dave Beck
Award-winning KUOW producer Dave Beck produced a story on UW Professor Michael Brockman‘s invention called the Broctave Key, a new piston-style, push-button vent designed to improve the intonation of the saxaphone and other woodwinds. The story aired on KUOW’s Morning Edition on April 10, 2013.
Read the story or listen to the audio recording here: “Seattle Inventor Finds Key to Solving Saxophone Discord”
Brockman is a faculty member of the UW School of Music, where he instructs concert and jazz saxophone performance, and jazz arranging and composition. He is also an active professional performer in numerous Seattle ensembles, including the Seattle Symphony Orchestra.
The new Key can be mounted onto any woodwind musical instrument, providing an additional octave or register vent. This especially improves the intonation of the saxophone, by correcting a design weakness existing in that instrument since its 1846 invention. The Broctave Key provides a more accurately positioned octave vent for use with several important and frequently played notes in the middle of the instrument’s range (especially middle C,
C#, D, Eb and E).
The Broctave Key is now in its third iteration, each a refinement in design and materials. The first was made out of brass tubing and lamp parts; the second, steel pinions modified with files, drills and power tools to fairly precise standards. The final product will be precision- machined of durable materials, such as brass, that integrate with the look and feel of the instrument.
Brockman has been working with C4C Technology Manager Deborah Alterman to get his invention to market. Alterman helped secure initial funding from C4C to create several prototypes of the Broctave Key. After multiple design revisions, Brockman finalized the design and together with Alterman is working with Matt Jasper, a UW MBA student who has worked in music publishing and equipment sales, to develop a strategy for getting feedback from both local professional saxophone players and students of varying skill levels. Next, prototypes will be distributed to key music opinion leaders to get their endorsement.