The Saxophone, or Sax for short, is a woodwind instrument created by Aldophe Sax. It has the mouthpiece of a clarinet, the fingerwork of an oboe, and a brass bell. Although made with brass, it is considered a woodwind due to the embouchure. It is made almost all out of metal, with the exception of the reed, which is either bamboo wood, or polymer, as well as a cork on the neck joint.
They are very versatile and can be played in orchestras, blues ensembles, jazz ensembles, rock and pop bands, marching and pep bands, concert bands, and many more groups. A saxophone can also be played as a solo instrument, either with or without accompaniment.
There are seven different types of saxophone (in order from smallest to largest):
- Sopranino Sax (An Eb instrument)
- Soprano Sax (A Bb instrument)
- Alto Sax (An Eb instrument)
- Tenor Sax (A Bb instrument)
- Baritone Sax (An Eb instrument)
- Bass Sax (A Bb instrument)
- Contrabass Sax (An Eb instrument)
- Subcontrabass Sax (A Bb instrument)
Range of an Alto Saxophone: Low Bb to High F#. (B flat 4 to F# 7)
Sometimes, an advanced player can produce a low A, and a high G.
Parts of the Saxophone
The Saxophones have three main parts that are put together to form the instrument. Those are the Mouthpiece (which has the reed and the ligature), the neck, and the body of the saxophone (which has the keys, octave key, and bell).
The Octave Key
In order for the instruments to get some notes out, they need the octave key, located on the body of the instrument. The octave key on an Alto Saxophone leads to the neck, where a lever lifts up, therefore making the instrument go up an octave. It only raises when the note A and the octave key and up is played.
For the saxophones to play, they need reeds. Reeds can be wooden or plastic. There are many different types of reeds made by different companies, including Rico and Van Deuran. As with the clarinet, the player needs to change reeds based on the acoustics of the concert venue, the atmospheric conditions, and other factors.
Listen to the Instruments
Go to these links to listen to all the different types of instruments!
- Soprano Saxophone
- Alto Saxophone
- Tenor Saxophone
- Baritone Saxophone
- Bass Saxophone
- Contrabass Saxophonethumb|A Bass Saxophone|link=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ieb5IDnXV8othumb|A Bass Saxophone|link=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ieb5IDnXV8othumb|A Bass Saxophone|link=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ieb5IDnXV8o
- The soprano saxophone is very similar to a clarinet. However, while a clarinet is deep blue or black, the soprano sax is gold.
- Some soprano saxophones exist in a curved design.
- A soprano saxophone can also replace an oboe if one is not available, due to their similar timbre.
- Due to the fact that the embouchure doesn't need to be as tight on a saxophone compared to a flute or a clarinet, it is fairly easy to play two saxophones at once.
- Many baritone saxophones have an extra key and as a result an extra pad to extend its range down to a low A (concert C).