Episode 33 – Matthias Mueller on the Amazing SABRe Bass Clarinet

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In this episode of the Clarineat Podcast I speak with Matthias Mueller of the Zurich University of the Arts about his team’s amazing bass clarinet called the “SABRe.”

I first learned about at ClarinetFest 2016 this past summer in Lawrence Kansas where I had the opportunity to not only watch Matthias perform live on the instrument, but actually see it up close and watch an extended lecture performance as well (folks this is why you need to seriously consider going to ClarineatFest, you simply can’t find these amazing opportunities anywhere else!)

We discuss some of the amazing things this technology can do, what it means for music and musicians in the future, how it’s different from other MIDI controllers and synthesizers, and how Matthias and his team are bringing a commercial version of the product to market. We’ll be sure to check back with Matthias in a few months’ time to get more details about this amazing product idea as it develops.

Matthias Mueller

Matthias Mueller Biography

Matthias Mueller received a broad musical training at the University of Music in Basle; his most important teachers were Hans Rudolf Stalder and Jürg Wyttenbach.

Since 1996 Matthias Müller has lived in Zurich and is Professor for Clarinet at the Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK). He has gained a reputation as a versatile artist and is active as an interpreter, composer and teacher as well as the Artistic Director of various institutions and for various projects.

He has performed as a soloist with renowned orchestras such as the Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra, the Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra Moscow, the Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi etc. He supports the creation of new music and played over 100 premiers.

At the Institute for Computer Music and Sound Technology at the ZHdK he is in charge of the research project ‘Sensor Augmented Bass Clarinet’, an instrument that is playable in the usual way but also allows a computer to be controlled.

As a composer he has followed a line of development that might be termed the ‘Aesthetics of the Second Modernism’ and attempts time and time again to follow through in an interdisciplinary way.

Along with works of music theatre and for orchestra, his œuvre encompasses many pieces of chamber music and electronic music, too. He has written an instructional work for the clarinet and continues regularly to compose works for children.

What is the SABRe?


On Matthais’s website, he explains:

“The SABRe (which stands for Sensor Augmented Bass Clarinet) is an acoustic Bass Clarinet which directly communicates with a computer program.

The original acoustic qualities of the instrument are maintained so that the instrument can be used in traditional settings, yet the connection to the computer opens a wide field of new possible applications.

For the first time there is a musical instrument that allows a direct wireless connection between acoustic music and the digital world. The musician on stage can directly and spontaneously device the electronic music and thereby put it in a musical context.

The development of the Instrument is based on a research project of the Institute of Computer Music and Sound Technology (ICST) of the Zurich University of the Arts and is supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation.”

See the SABRe in action!

Commercial Product (Coming soon!)


Watch the Video for the Commercial Version


Matthias’s Website

Matthias’s YouTube Channel

Commercial Product Promo Video on Indigogo

Discussion Transcript

  • 00:00 – Intro Music (Thank you Tom Puwalski!)
  • 00:26 – Episode introduction
  • 03:30 – This episode is brought to you by D’Addario Woodwinds
  • 03:57 – Episode begins. Welcome to Clarineat Matthias!
  • 04:33 – How would you introduce the SABRe technology?
  • 05:21 – How is this idea different than other synthesizers like the Akai EWI series?
  • 07:45 – Why doesn’t a product like this exist already?
  • 08:58 – The difference between acoustic, MIDI and synthesizer instruments
  • 10:23 – Introduction to the different sensors and controllers
  • 12:14 – Why we don’t need to fully understand the technology to use it as musicians
  • 15:40 – Why do you think many musicians are afraid of this type of technology?
  • 21:10 – Watch the SABRe Trailer (scroll down!)
  • 21:25 – Discussion about the upcoming commercial version of the product
  • 23:00 – Using the technology in your own flexible, creative way
  • 24:40 – Add your personal signature to the electronics
  • 25:20 – The importance of having a great team to work with
  • 27:50 – This is what we can do today, imagine what we can do in the future
  • 28:15 – Can this item be pre-ordered?
  • 28:30 – Success with crowdfunding on Indigogo (watch the video!)
  • 30:45 – What is the long-term vision for the product, and who is the target market?
  • 33:05 – Opening new doors into the future of music and the clarinet
  • 35:00 – Curiosity about what people will do with the technology, even after 16 years
  • 36:10 – Thank you so much for coming on the podcast today!
  • 37:00 – This episode is brought to you by D’Addario Woodwinds


The giveaway for this episode of the podcast is a signed copy of one of Matthias’s CDs (Exact CD to be confirmed). To make sure you’re eligible to win items mentioned on the podcast, please subscribe to our email mailing list.


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