Overview of facts
The Xaphoon is a patented instrument
Length: around 31 cm for the C instrument and 34 cm for the B Xaphoon Weight: ca. 250g
The Xaphoon has 9 finger holes. Eight on the front and one behind for the thumbs
Overblowing first becomes necessary from the 12th tone and not at the octave, as is the case for the flute or the saxophone
Overblowing is achieved by stronger lip pressure rather than special fingerings.
Brian Wittman has since made many, many thousands of bamboo Xaphoone in his workshop on the island of Maui/Hawaii. There are more than 20,000 of these instruments in the German-speaking countries alone.
The first Xaphoone were made for sale in California in 1976.
The oldest Xaphoon dates from 1974. It’s very small, an E Xaphoon with a support ring for the thumbs and a metal cap. It still plays wonderfully.
The Xaphoon sales network was established in 1993.
Facts and info
The name developed in the band as the Xaphoon was employed as a complement to the saxophone: From "bamboozaphone" to "bamboozaphoon" to "bamboo zafoon" and "zafoon" on to "Xaphoon," which is pronounced as "ßafu:n" for the original and for us also "ksafo:n."
The instrument, which Brian Wittman has been producing commercially for years, is not significantly different than the first experimental models. He constructed some longer instruments, some with a conical extension (mostly of cow horn), but when the design became more and more complicated with many parts, he decided to only build them based on the "from one piece" concept with the mouthpiece directly on the end of the resonant body.
Fortunately, bamboo grows very naturally in the right form. You only have to pay close attention to the correct diameter and the right length. After a few experiments, Brian Wittman found a hole and finger system, which allows the playing of two complete chromatic octaves. This can be transferred to any pitch. Since on a C Xaphoon, it is not difficult to play, for example, a Cis or a melody in this pitch, Brian makes almost all of the instruments with the lowest C sound. This is mainly intended to prevent all of the people, who are not specialists, from having too much trouble making a selection. It is of course possible to build a separate instrument for every key, but this would make the thing rather costly. Brian much prefers to build Xaphoons with a different pitch, when the customer already has some practice on the other one and is still interested.
Only a few years ago, there was only a handful of people who knew about the Xaphoon. Today, the Xaphoon has become an alternative, which is to be taken seriously, to the recorder as a beginning instrument or initial instrument for other reed instruments.
The precursor to the Xaphoon, the Schalimo
The idea for reed instruments comes from the Arabian area. The schalimo is the precursor of the clarinet. It had a slimmer mouthpiece with a narrower and smaller reed, which made it sound brighter. Initially it had no valves, then one valve, then two until it became a clarinet, which then completely replaced this very simply built instrument, which was also used in Central Europe. Today, there are still classical pieces from the baroque, which were written for the schalimo.
The rediscovery of this instrument type has only occurred in the past years. The Xaphoon is actually a further development because the mouthpiece was changed and the sound became more sonorous. Similar instruments are found in areas such as India, Armenia or in the west of Latin America. The Xaphoon provides a greater number of people access to this type of instrument for the first time in history and this is also worldwide. However, at the present time this is mainly in Central Europe, Japan, Australia and the United States thanks to some people, who are living in these areas and are very involved and certainly enthusiastic. In the meantime, an independent Xaphoon culture has already developed. The first recordings with the Xaphoon have been published and the Xaphoon is also used in concerts and for instruction. With the CLASSIC XAPHOON, which has just appeared on the market, we have now arrived at "high tech" production. There are no longer any obstacles to the production of an unlimited number. The coming years will show how the history will continue.ather costly. Brian much prefers to build Xaphoons with a different pitch, when the customer already has some practice on the other one and is still interested.
Here you will find information about the Xaphoon as a download.