The story of the birth of "Zephyros"


It is not so strange idea for a musician, who is motivated to@perform new music, to have a trombone like slide on a trumpet. However,it is technically and physically difficult to design a fully functional slide on such an instrument since the physical length of a trumpet is limited. The difficulty of the production and minimal demand for this type of trumpet, the instrument could not be the type to be mass produced. And, of course, the price of it must be high. The one I wanted was in the key of C. Because of all those facts, I almost gave upon it, but the chance came. That happened on March of 1993.

I consulted Mr. Takeyama, who is the repair maintenance engineer at Baldon Music store in Nagoya, about the instrument. Surprisingly, he was willing to try. The first prototype was made in late July. The instrument was made from many different components from different trumpets because the budget was limited as well as the producing new parts from scratch takes too much. The mass produced bell could not be used because the length of it was too long, but the Bb trumpet bell was used but the tube was squeezed to fit to the other parts. The problem was the sound even though the intonation was good.

I wished to fly to Nagoya as soon as possible but couldn't. Later,@the prototype was brought to YAMAHA Atelier for fine tuning. Thecraftsman at Yamaha was very willing to work with me. By fixing a@piccolo trumpet bell, the sound of the instrument improved dramatically, however, the length of the instrument was too long. It was still too long to be a Bb trumpet. There were no parts left to be improved but the slide. Actually, the slide was already made a modification to be a narrow slide. On the contrary, the first slide ended up to be a very good one so its length was modified to be one for Bb. The problem was still there since the one I wanted was in the key of C. The slide was modified from a brass instrument manufacturing "J" company's soprano trombone. I could not ask Yamaha to modify someone else's product. I faced a wall, again. Then the president of Nero Music Store told me that the modification of the slide could be done at his shop.

Purchasing only slide from "J" company might have taken more than 6 months so whole Soprano trombone was purchased first. The slide only set was also ordered and delivered 6 moths later.

Now, C trumpet. The length of the instrument must have been for a C trumpet. However, the length was very difficult to be tuned. If the length was a little too short then the range of the grissanndo became too narrow and it was not too interesting. Also the intonation at each position became unstable. For next two days, I and Mr. Iizuka at Nero worked based on many different ideas. The final prototype was managed to be completed and was ready for the first performance. Mr. Iizuka made the case for the instrument as well. Thank you very much.

About a year later, 'Zephyros I' went home in Nagoya. There, the bell was heat treated and silver plated. The process was done so that the instrument has rich and thick timbre. Finally production of first version of 'Zephyros I' was completed.

The birth of Zephyros II

'Zephros I' had a few minor problems. As it was mentioned above, the sound of it was a little poor. In addition, due to a small piccolo trumpet bell was used, it was difficult to produce full sound where 'ff' was requested. To improve them, the second model 'Zephyros II' was produced with better quality components. Piston assembly was taken from YAMAHA Xeno C trumpet and larger Eb trumpet bell was fixed on this model. As a result, the intonation and the timbre of 'Zephyros I' were improved dramatically also the dynamic problem was solved.

There were many many creative and interesting ideas of making this instrument as well as people who worked on it and time spent. Thank you very much Mr. Takeyama and Mr. Sasaki at Nagoya Baldon Music store, Mr. Kameyama and Mr. Nakazawa at Yamaha Atelier for working on the bell, and Mr. Iizuka at Nero Music store for working on the slide. I could not forget to say 'thank you' to composers, Mr. Ken Ito, Mr. Ryuta Suzuki,(for premier performance for Zephyros I) Mr. Shigenobu Nakamura, Mr. Toshio Nakagawa, Mr. Masato Kouchi,Mr. Motoharu Kawashima, Ms. Masami Noda, Mr. Jun Yamaguchi, Mr. Yoshifumi Tanaka, Dr. Yoriaki Matsudaira, Mr. Katsumi Yokoyama, and Ms. Noriko Hisada,(and later performances) who were willing to write pieces for this instrument.

about Zephyros (Trumpet with Slide)

Key: C. 'Zephyros I' has a little sharper 'edgy' sound. To have maximum length on the slide, most part, the bore of the instrument is small and could not fit a large bell. To have richer and thicker timbre the bell was heat treated. The problem was solved on 'Zephyros II' by using higher quality components and fixing a larger Eb trumpet bell.

Range: Upper register should be the same as regular trumpet, but the low register is widen by major three steps. For C Zephyros, the range is about three octaves from D2 to D5. For details, see the attached position diagram.

Characteristic: The use of grissanndo is at the will of a performer. The pitch may not be played on trombone can be played with combination of slide and pistons. The range of grissanndo is major 4th without use of pistons and major 3rd with use of all three pistons.

Slide position map: here!

Zephyros II

Zephyros III in Bb

Zephyros IV in C (Black shadow)

zephyros I & map of positions | Compositions for Zephyros | Arranges for Zephyros

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