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Saxophone History

The History Of The Saxophone

Saxophone history is relatively short in musical instrument terms. Patented in 1846, the first public display of a saxophone was the C bass saxophone some two years earlier in 1844, played by the man himself, Adolphe Sax.

A risky stratergy I may say given the patent hadn't yet been granted. Despite being made of brass the saxophone is classed as a woodwind instrument. The sound being acheieved by blowing air over a single reed.

The history of the saxophones invention and why it came to be is a little cloudy. There have been comments made that Sax wanted the big sound of a brass instrument coupled with the versatility of a wind instrument. There is also mention of a requirement for the instrument to overblow by an octave. (Overblowing - playing a bottom B and taking it up to middle B without changing the fingering). Needless to say whatever Saxs' true desires or intentions were the instrument came into being.

Saxs' original 15 year patent was for one true design with 14 variations split into 2 groups of 7. One group for concert play and one group for marching bands.

The History Of The Saxophone. The Proposed Designs

The propsed list of saxophones originally submitted by Adolphe Sax is as follows:

    Selmer
  • E flat sopranino,
  • F sopranino,
  • B flat soprano,
  • C soprano,
  • E flat alto,
  • F alto,
  • B flat tenor,
  • C tenor,
  • E flat baritone,
  • B flat bass,
  • C bass,
  • E flat contrabass,
  • and F contrabass.
  • That's 13. The last one, the sub-contrabass, never seems to have had a true working model of it made.

History Of Saxophones

The saxophone was utilized well through the latter half of the 19th century and composers such as Richard Strauss, Prokofiev and Bizet wrote for and used the instrument in their orchestras.

It was also used by marching bands when Sax himself instigated a play off between a regular marching band of the day and a marching band equipped with saxophones. Sax replaced the oboe's and bassoons in his own band and replaced them with saxophones. Sax won and so the history of saxophone was helped to continue.

During the saxophone history there have been a number of changes to the saxophone. The first instruments had less keys and didn't have the nowadays common option of an F# key. Selmer, who originally purchased Sax's company, made their first model, the Model 22, in the 1920's when jazz was starting to make it's name through out the musical community.

Saxophone History Continues

Travelling through saxophone history they have become more and more popular and have found their way into mainstream music and popular culture

Generally through the likes of the greats such as Coleman Hawkins, Stan getz and Michael Brecker. Today there are realistically 8 members of the original family still being produced. some much rarer than others but all equally loved. May the history of the saxophone continue for many years to come.


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