About the Saxophone

 

 

We’ll be featuring a saxophonist in an upcoming issue, so we’d thought we would give you a little history on the sax.

 

The saxophone was developed in 1846 by Adolphe Sax, a Belgian-born instrument maker, flautist, and clarinetist working in Paris.  He worked at his father’s instrument shop in Brussels.  He began developing an instrument with the projection of a brass instrument and the agility of a woodwind. He wanted it to overblow at the octave, unlike the clarinet, which rises in pitch by a twelfth when overblown. An instrument that overblew at the octave would have identical fingering for both registers.

 

Prior to his work on the saxophone, Sax had made several improvements to the bass clarinet by improving its keywork and acoustics and extending its lower range. Sax was also a maker of the then-popular ophicleide, a large conical brass instrument in the bass register with keys similar to a woodwind instrument. His experience with these two instruments allowed him to develop the skills and technologies needed to make the first saxophones. Adolphe Sax created an instrument with a single reed mouthpiece like a clarinet, conical brass body like an ophicleide, and the acoustic properties of both the French horn and the clarinet.

 

Sax applied received a 15-year patent for the instrument on June 28, 1846. The patent encompassed 14 versions of the fundamental design, split into two categories of seven instruments each and ranging from soprano to contrabass.

 

When Sax’s patent expired in 1866 numerous saxophonists and instrument manufacturers implemented their own improvements to the design and keywork. The first substantial modification was by a French manufacturer who extended the bell slightly and added an extra key to extend the range downwards by one semitone to Bflat.

 

Sax’s original keywork, which was based on the Triebert system 3 oboe for the left hand and the Boehm clarinet for the right, was very simplistic and made playing some legato passages and wide intervals extremely difficult to finger, so numerous developers added extra keys and alternate fingerings to make chromatic playing less difficult. While the early saxophone had two separate octave vents to assist in the playing of the upper registers just as modern instruments do, players of Sax’s original design had to operate these via two separate octave keys operated by the left thumb. A substantial advancement in saxophone keywork was the development of a method by which the left thumb operates both tone holes with a single octave key, which is now universal on modern saxophones.

 

Some of the greatest saxophone players who have ever played include:  Cannonball Adderly, John Coltrane, Charlie Parker, Coelman Hawkins and Lester Young.

 

For storage of a saxophone, you should buy protec max tenor sax case at wwbw.  The worst thing you can do is purchase a quality instrument and then not protect it.

 

 

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