Copyright © Françoise Herrmann
Looking for paper-clip patents, one thing lead to another….
The French word for paper-clip is “trombone”… by analogy, hitherto unbeknownst to me, with the shape of the trombone musical instrument. So… surprise! Even if there appears no connection between paperclips and musical instruments, there are plenty. The EPO retuned the Davis Shuman ergonomically angular trombone patent when prompted for paperclip patents, “trombone” in French.
This should explain a little bit of the detour to paperclip patents…
Davis Shuman (1912-1966) was a pioneering American trombone soloist from the first half of the twentieth century, at a time when there was a very limited solo trombone repertoire. This well-known musician also held an engineering degree from NorthWestern University, which enabled him re-design the trombone and to file patents for his inventions.
The patent US2669152, titled Trombone, was filed February 17, 1950 and granted on February 16, 1954, to Davis Shuman, inventor and author of the patent. The invention introduces an angle relative to the mouthpiece and bell of the instrument. The purpose of this angle is twofold. First, the invention angle enables movement of the slide, without re-directing the bell of the instrument away from the audience. This is deemed important, because in cramped orchestra configurations, the trombonist, using a slide operating parallel to the mouthpiece and bell of the instrument, is obliged to shift the instrument to the side, to avoid touching musicians seated in front, and thus diverts sound, coming out of the bell, away from the audience. Secondly, the invention angle offers a more ergonomic way of moving the slide, that is, it affords a more natural movement resulting in more stability for the trombonist holding the instrument.
In Davis Shuman’s terms:
I have found that these difficulties can be avoided by inclining the telescopic sections and the slide of the trombone at an angle to the axis of the bell and mouthpiece so that the slide can be moved at an angle to avoid striking a person in front of the trombonist without the necessity of directing the bell away from the audience. Inclining the slide also improves the balance of the instrument since, in normal playing position, the horizontal extension of the slide is not as great as in the conventional trombone and the arm movement is easier and more natural. [US2669152]
Below, appears Figure 1 of the patent US2669152 disclosing the Davis Shuman angular trombone, and an image of the brass instrument invention angle.
If you would like to hear Davis Shuman playing the trombone, then please click on this link to a YouTube recording: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oMivdbryEeE