The saxophone is a musical instrument of the woodwind family, mainly made of brass, invented by Adolf Sax in 1846. Adolphe Sax is a Belgian musical instrument manufacturer. He worked on ophicleide and clarinet for several years, which eventually led to his first saxophone. The saxophone is becoming more and more popular, first as a military instrument, and then as a concert orchestra, chamber instrument, symphony and jazz instrument. The saxophone is classified as a woodwind instrument based on the way it produces sound, with the musician blowing into a mouthpiece and creating the vibration of a single reed, as opposed to the hum of the lips on the mouthpiece, which is common with most brass players. The sound is created by blowing into the mouthpiece and using your hands to play the keys that change the sound.
The standard saxophone has 23 keys.
When Adolphe Sax introduced the first saxophones most people were not impressed.
Saxophone reeds are made out of the plant Arundo donax, which is considered an invasive plant in the US.
Hector Berlioz was the first musician and composer to give praise to the saxophone. He also created the first saxophone composition.
Adolphe Sax thought the saxophone would be capable of fitting in with a variety of ensembles, and so he made them in a range of sizes; from the sopranino in the high range to the contrabass in the low range.
Most saxophones are made of brass but in some cases they are also made of precious metals such as sterling silver, copper, or bronze.
From its earliest days, the saxophone was always made of brass. However, because it generates sound with a single reed, it is classified as a woodwind. The only other metallic woodwind is the flute, which was made entirely of wood at first.
Some saxophones have been made of plastic, acrylic, or polycarbonate.
Because the saxophone was designed to bridge the gap between brass and woodwinds, it plays an important role in creating tonal balance.
The mouthpiece of the saxophone was originally made of wood, such as boxwood, and later rosewood and granadilla. There are still some wooden mouthpieces manufactured today but they are much less common.
A jazz saxophone mouthpiece is relatively wide, with thin walls and a large chamber that gives the player tonal flexibility.
Many jazz and classical musicians use saxophone mouthpieces made of rubber, but others prefer mouthpieces made of metal.
A classical saxophone mouthpiece is designed with a more narrow space to provide greater control.
Beginner saxophone players often use mouthpieces made of plastic.
The cork on the end of a saxophone neck allows a variety of mouthpieces to be attached so that players can change them depending on the sound they wish to achieve.
The saxophone’s design includes a reed, ligature, main body, tone holes, a thumb rest, a rod system, pads, and a bell.
In the 1950s and 1960s, acrylic plastic alto saxes were popularly available under the brand name Grafton.
The contrabass is the largest standard saxophone built today. It is 6 feet 4 inches tall and weighs approximately 45 pounds. It has a sound a full octave lower than the baritone sax.
There is a sax-playing Muppet named Zoot!
The smallest saxophone built today is the soprillo. It is only 12 inches and has a sound that is an octave higher than the soprano sax.
Only four members of the sax family are commonly used today: the Soprano, Alto, Tenor, and Bass Saxophone. The most popular are the Alto and Tenor.
The saxophone family includes soprano, alto, tenor, baritone, bass, contrabass, and sub-contrabass saxophones.
Although the saxophone is usually thought of as a jazz instrument, it has been used successfully with symphonic music such as Bizet, Massenet, and Berlioz.
The military band family of saxophones includes the sopranino saxophone, soprano saxophone, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone, bass saxophone, contrabass saxophone and the sub-contrabass saxophone.
Although the saxophone is closely related to the clarinet, the fingering of a saxophone is much easier.
The orchestral family of saxophones includes the C soprano saxophone, the mezzo-soprano saxophone, and the C melody saxophone.
When the saxophone was first introduced to jazz, the clarinet was much more popular and many musicians resisted the saxophone for a time.
The Tubax and Sopranissimo (soprillo) are also types of saxophones.
Gene Ammons, founder of the Chicago school of Tenor Sax, recorded The Big Sound and Groove Blues on a single day in 1958.
The first American jazz musician to become famous with the saxophone was Coleman Hawkins, in the 1920s.
John Douglas Surman was a remarkable player of the soprano and baritone saxophones. He attended the London College of Music and was a member of the Jazz Workshop at Plymouth Arts Center.
Famous saxophone players include Jimmy Dorsey, Johnny Hodges, Lester Young, John Coltrane, Branford Marsalis, Ornette Coleman, Kenny G, Cannonball Adderley, Charlie Parker, Wayne Shorter, Sonny Rollins, Fats Navarro, Steve Lacy, Lee Konitz, Louis Jordan, Woody Herman, Stan Getz, Benny Carter, Jackie McLean, Ben Webster, and Dexter Gordon.
The smallest saxophone, at 12” high and sounding an octave above the Bb soprano, is the “sopranissimo.”
Former United States President Bill Clinton is an accomplished saxophone player.
All saxophones have an octave key, meaning fingerings for most notes are the same in different octaves.