• Selmer Mark VII Information from Frederick Hemke

    by  • July 9, 2010 • Selmer

    Steve Sklar, the gentleman that runs the ClarinetPerfection website and who is one of the Content Experts on the Woodwind Forum (where I’m an admin), posted this the other day.  It’s interesting stuff for a lot of reasons, but for me, I was unaware that Frederick Hemke was one of the folks that helped design the Selmer Mark VII.  I’m going to copy and paste the article, because the website this was found at looks not to have been updated in eight years and a lot of the links are broken. This generally means the website will go *poof* at any moment.  (BTB, the interesting punctuation and spelling errors in the article point to this article having been scanned from somewhere, possibly a Selmer brochure.  I’ve tried to fix most of the problems, but if you see more, drop me a line.)

    For two and a half years, I watched the growth and development of a remarkably innovative saxophone, the Selmer Mark VII, under the vision and supervision of Jean Selmer and the advice of Michel Nouaux, solo saxophonist of the Garde Republicaine Band.

    In order to acquaint the saxophonist with this new instrument, a number of technical and mechanical changes demand discussion.  [By] far the most significant changes involve the concept of the new instrument’s sound. It is vibrant. full, rich, and gratifying. Moreover, the sound is in uniform with these qualities throughout the entire range of the instrument — a unique achievement. The combination of the new design, a new neck and the new square chambered S-80 mouthpiece has produced a sound similar to that of its great predecessor, the Mark VI, but with a richer, more controlled, more uniform quality that seems almost effortless to produce. The sound of the Mark VI was beautiful: the Mark VII has neatly refined and enhanced this attribute. While such differences might not he perceived in the beginting student’s sound, the accomplished performer will immediately appreciate the subtle but significant change.

    The Mark VII has not lost any of the established quality look of Selmer saxophones. [However], a close examination reveals pertinent mechanical improvements. The right hand little finger spatulas of the Eb and C keys have been redesigned to improve their gliding characteristics. The two keys are now mounted on separate posts and rods, which results in a lighter, easier and faster action. The left hand little finger spatulas have also been redesigned into a larger finger board area, [which results in] more controlled shifts to low B and Bb.  A new height to the high left hand D, Eb and F keys places them closer into the left hand palm and allows a freer, more controllable feel. The octave key has been provided with a new pivot point for easier operation. All of the lower stack rods, which provide articulation to and from the left hand little finger, have been mounted on a single arch for a more comfortable left hand feel. The professional saxophonist will also appreciate the elongated and newly shaped right-hand chromatic F# key and the redesigned shape of the right hand high, E and F# keys.

    The performer will also notice changes in the body, calculated to improve the intonation and response. Bore changes create for the performer a tremendous potential for a room filling exspansive sound. The instrument possesses a richer dynamic range, from [what] must be the ultimate of pianissimos to a fortissimo [that’s] more powerful than ever. The neck affects the intonation and production of sound conspicuously enough to allow the sensitive listener, as well as the performer, to recognize the improvement.  To the discriminating musician, these differences are substantial enough to cross the line between that which was excellent and that which has been refined into something truly unique.

    During the developement of the Mark VII, I worked intermittently in an advisory capacity with Jean Selmer and his prlzed new instrument.  It has been gratifying to observe how a large instrument company has not closed its mind and ears to the possibilities of innovation and improvement. Selmer has consistently sought to accommodate the suggestions of those of us who have worked with the instrument.  They have rernained keenly aware of the performers aesthetic and mechanical needs, and of the listener’s fresh musical experience. This will surerly not be the final saxophone which the Selmer Company will produce. [However, the Mark VII] is, at present, the ultimate achievement in saxophone design. it truly represents “the state of the art.”

    Please check out the discussion at http://www.woodwindforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2979