Information On The Different Types Of Saxophones

There are different types of saxophones than most people know about. There are four in the common family today, but there are eight made and were originally fourteen. Here are some interesting facts about saxophones and the music they play.

The saxophone was invented in the 1840's by Adolphe Sax. It is really not one instrument, but a group of instruments. Sax invented about fourteen saxophones, eight of which still exist today. However, only four of those are commonly available - the soprano, alto, tenor, and baritone saxophones. The most common of these is the alto saxophone, which is what most people think of when they hear saxophone.

Some of the other saxophones in existence include the E-flat sopranino, B-flat soprano, E-flat Alto, true tone Alto, B-flat tenor, E-flat baritone, B-flat Bass and contrabass. Some of the early saxophones were made in F and C, rather than E-flat and B-flat. Others were invented, but were possibly too radical to remain in creation.

The soprano saxophone is the only straight saxophone in the family. It looks like a clarinet but is made of brass. However, it is classified as a woodwind because it's a single reed instrument. The alto saxophone is curved around, and has one bend in its neck. The tenor has a more curved neck and is larger. Both of these may double the clarinets or other high woodwinds. The baritone's neck is a full circle and is the largest of the saxophones. Its case is actually around four feet long. When it's played, it usually doubles the brass section.

The soprano saxophone isn't a common one in most bands, but it is used sometimes. When it's played, it might play a part similar to a clarinet, or even act as another clarinet. Because of its higher sound, it often doubles the higher woodwind parts. Both the alto and tenor saxophones are used in marching bands, though the baritone is not used as often. For many people, the baritone is simply too large and too heavy for marching. Many baritone saxophone players play alto saxophone during marching season.

All of the saxophones have a range of about two and a half octaves. Their sound ranges from a soft, clarinet-like sound to a more pronounced brass one. These tones are achieved by twenty keys on the body of the instrument, which are operated by six finger plates. The first three fingers on each hand are used to press these. There are also two additional keys which are used to play up or down an octave from the original note.

All of the saxophones are good solo instruments. They are primarily band instruments, though they are used occasionally in orchestra music. French composers usually write the orchestral music that has saxophones. German or Brazilian composers also did some orchestral works for saxophones. Usually, they are used in military bands or similar setups.

Back in the early 1900's, saxophones were used a lot in small bands by such artists as Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman and Duke. It was known as the Big Band sound and was quite popular. The type of music involved in this was jazz. It was very popular for jazz musicians to use a lot of saxophones in their pieces. These bands had altos, tenors, and a baritone saxophone. Also around this time, saxophones replaced clarinets in many bands.

Today, music that uses saxophones often, surprisingly, uses the tenor sax. This is in the majority of bands who have record contracts. Though most people would think the saxophone they are hearing is an alto sax, it is, in fact, usually a tenor. This creates a slightly lower, more sonorous sound that works quite well with other common instruments of today.

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