SABRe Sensor Augmented Bass Clarinet Research

Because of its long experience THE BLASHAUS is practice partner in the SABRe project of the Institute for Computer Music and Sound Technology (ICST).

The clarinet talks to a computer. Why not?
Augmented Reality is on everyone's lips and as apps on our smartphones. Computers add more levels to our perception of reality: Aircrafts in the sky are recognized, sights tell their storys and streets try to lure you to the best restaurants and the most advantageous promotions. Augmented Reality offers assistance in a wide variety of tasks, ranging from complex tasks in construction, maintenance and medicine, navigation or entertainment and advertising. An endless wealth of new possibilities is opened.

And what has this to do with clarinets or more specifically with bass clarinets? Currently we preferably play music with clarinets. And it should stay that way.
But, what if the instrumentalists were able to command a computer to enhance their capabilities in expression?
This is where SABRe (Sensor Augmented Bass Clarinet Research) comes in. This research project of the Institute for Computer Music and Sound Technology (ICST) at the Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK), supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation researches technology and applications to add advanced sensors and computer connectivity to a bass clarinet

A bass clarinet controls it all
Now a bass clarinet is not only producing sound. It moves, distorts, illuminates, controls, modulates, and not least it also records its own play and its movements. The options which are provided to the artists are almost of confusing variety.

Four groups of sensors
The first step for connecting to a computer is to capture the player's actions through appropriate sensors.SABRe's sensors should not interfere with normal acoustic playability and the sound of the instrument. Four sensor groups are used:

  • Key sensors
    Hall effect sensors register in real time the positions of the keys. These data can be used to calculate the pressing speed or the clarinet fingerings.
  • IMU (Inertial Measurement Unit)
    These sensors (with the embed compass) enable us to measure acceleration, static position as well as its location.
  • AirMEMS
    An air pressure sensor registers the pressure in the mouthpiece.
  • Thumb switches
    Three switches, located under the left thumb can be read and trigger any action.

The data obtained are processed and transmitted via radio. On the computer the application sabreServer is responsible for calibration and evaluation of data. The data can then be processed by any Open Sound Control compatible device or application.

The project addresses specific needs of the practice that previously could not be satisfactorily fulfilled. The results of the research shall go directly into practice in order to be tested and evaluated. The system is intended to react with the expectations from the music scene. The evaluation will be carried out in collaboration with composers and performers in different contexts.

Research Team

Matthias Mueller
Project Coordinator, Project Development

Instrument Technician

German Toro Perez
Project Coordinator, Director ICST

Isaï Angst
Software Development

Sebastien Schiesser
Technical Development

David Jud
Assistant, Bass Clarinet

SABRe stands for Sensor Augmented Bass Clarinet - it is a standard acoustic bass clarinet equipped with devices that capture the movement and the air pressure produced by the player. While maintaining the acoustic qualities of the original instrument, this clarinet can also be used as a controller that sends data to a computer. This opens a wide range of new musical possibilities for composition and performance.


More about SABRe ... (

Matthias Mueller: SABRe ... (

Visions and their realization

DAS BLASHAUS is specialized to make visions become reality. In particular, if the ideas relate to wind instruments. As you may know, we have developed and realized some of our own visions and ideas. For example, the BLASHAUS exclusive bass clarinet neck or the BLASHAUS Converted Conn Chu Berry "BlackPearl" saxophones. This means DAS BLASHAUS has a long-standing experience in this field.
We are proud working with the ICST, an institute of the department of music at the Zurich University of the Arts. It brings together scientists and artists from various professional backgrounds: mathematics, engineering, audio engineering, psychoacoustics, computer science, generative art, media art, musicology, music theory, performance and composition.

Video SABRe Research

SABRe explained and and played live.

Watch video ...

Video Dawn for SABRe-Bassclarinet

Martin Schlumpf Dawn for SABRe-Bassclarinet and Orchestra

Watch video ...

Video Time Machine

Time Machine by Marko Ciciliani for SABRe

Watch video ...