SABRE - Sensor Augmented Bass clarinet Research - is a research project of the Institute for Computer Music and
Sound Technology - ICST.
SABRE music technology is the business arm of this research project with the aim of developing products to sell on the market.
Matthias approaches Germán Toro Pérez, Director of the ICST, with the idea of building an electric bass clarinet similar to Bruno Spoerris’ synthesizer midi saxophone - the synthophone; however, Matthias insists that it should also be playable acoustically. His goal is to eliminate extra equipment such as foot pedals and to have a more ergonomic use of electronics during the performance.
The DO RE grant from the SNF (Swiss National Fund) starts the project of the sensor-augmented bass clarinet research (SABRE) at the ICST with guaranteed funding for the first two years. Sébastien Schiesser and Jan Schacher start to experiment with different types of sensors that can be used to augment the properties of the regular bass clarinet; they settle on motion sensors, an air pressure sensor and sensors for every key of the instrument to track the fingerings while playing.
At the first SABRE Symposium at the ZHdK (Zurich University of the Arts) in Zürich, the very first prototype is presented. With Arduino parts attached to it, partially hot glued and partially attached with Velcro—not to mention cables hanging all over the place—the model is barely playable. However, the possibility of realization is proven, and Sébastien continues to refine the instrument.
Sébastien and Jan participate in the NIME (New Interfaces for Musical Expression) Conference at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, presenting a publication about the SABRE project.
Meanwhile, a second prototype is improved with new cable connections and a whole new system of cables. Also, the screwed-on magnets, which functioned as the key sensors and had to be adjusted regularly on the first prototype, are exchanged with hard-soldered magnets in cooperation with the innovative instrument-maker Martin Suter.
For the realization of the UK SABRE BASS CLARINET DAY Symposium in Keele (UK), which was organized by British clarinetist Sarah Watts, Isaï Angst joins the SABRE team at the ICST. He accompanies Matthias and prepares a very comprehensible yet entertaining presentation on the capabilities of the SABRE by controlling a small model train with it. Isaï continues on as a member of the SABRE team in the role of supervisor, assisting performers and composers working with the SABRE instrument. In addition, he starts working on the SABRE framepatch, a patcher to simplify the performance of several different pieces for the SABRE in one concert, with the goal of avoiding delays while loading the different patchers.
With the expiration of the DO RE funding, Jan leaves the research, but the funding is continued through the Zurich University of the Arts.
Matthias and Isaï participate at a bass clarinet symposium in Ghent (Belgium) organized by clarinetist Stefan Vermeersch.
Isaï works on a SABRE improv-patcher to facilitate access to the instrument. With this patcher, performers can explore the different effects of the SABRE, and composers can also work with this patcher during their compositional process to find and create the sounds they are looking for.
With the third prototype, the SABRE reaches reliable functionality. This is the instrument with which Matthias is still performing today.
In April, the very first “SABRE-only” concert, in cooperation with the IGNM (Internationale Gesellschaft für Neue Musik) Zürich, is very well received; the concert includes five world premieres.
Isaï plays the entirety of his Masters recital on the SABRE, which includes a special show in which self-made moving head lights follow the movements of the SABRE on stage.
The improv-patcher, which is mainly used by Matthias for improvisations with the SABRE, consists of 4 to 5 rudimental effects and is complemented with a synthesizer and a sampler tool. Despite the fact that the effects function very well, the usability is quite complicated.
In a meeting, the team decides it is time to open the SABRE technology to the market. They come up with a plan for the SABRE multisensor: a small device that will include the motion sensor technology and the air pressure sensor and can be attached very easily on any kind of clarinet or saxophone.
Matthias founds an own company: the SABRE GmbH (LLC). The project is going in a new direction and seeks start-up money to realize and produce the newly-planned SABRE multisensor.
Meanwhile, Matthias continues to play shows with the SABRE instrument all over Europe and the USA, and Felix joins the team, experimenting with video art controlled by the SABRE.
This year sees the launch of the website sabremultisensor.com with official information about the SABRE multisensor.
Stefan designs the first model of the SABRE multisensor.
In the summer, Matthias, Isaï and Felix make a promotional video for the SABRE multisensor which is then used for the crowdfunding campaign later in fall. The crowdfunding campaign successfully raises money for the development of the SABRE multisensor, demonstrating a worldwide interest in the device.
The year starts with very good news. A CTI (Commission for Technology and Innovation) grant comes through and financially secures the research and development of the SABRE multisensor at the ICST for the next year. Sébastien and Isaï are now working hard to make the SABRE technology ready for the market. In collaboration with Stefan, Sébastien is working on the hardware, and Isaï is improving the software. The SABRE improv-patch is about to become an interactive program with a great user interface, which is Max-based and compatible with both Mac and PC.
In addition to the SABRE multisensor, Sébastien begins work on a second device with two buttons to trigger the effects during the performance: the SABRE remote.
Sébastien changes the communication protocol to Bluetooth, simplifying the connection of the two SABRE products to the computer (and in the future tablets and smartphones).
Felix’s work in programming visuals is showcased in his Masters recital, which is played entirely on the third SABRE prototype. The performance consists of all solo works originally composed for regular bass clarinet; these works are accompanied by video art triggered and controlled by the third SABRE prototype.
In November Matthias is playing a big SABRE show with the title "Dance n' Rhythm" at the Tonhalle Zürich together with tap dancer Max Pollak. The SABRE is controlling not only the sound, but also the lights.
At the beginning of the year, the SABRE GmbH hires two new employees: Mihaela, who is responsible for public relations, marketing and management; and Felix, who works on a new website to start the online shop, sabre-mt.com.
Sébastien is working on a device to allow the communication of multiple SABRE multisensors and SABRE remotes at the same time.