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Saxophones

Whether you're a budding John Coltrane or Charlie Parker, fancy yourself as more of a Lee Thompson-inspired sax player or – dare we say – want to go the way of Kenny G, the Saxophone is a highly versatile instrument that has been the weapon of choice for many legendary musicians over the years. We have got offerings from Conn Selmer, Elkhart, and Yamaha to suit budgets from beginner to professional so there has never been a better time to pick up and play the saxophone.

 

The History of the Saxophone

 

Invented by the Belgian instrument maker Adolphe Sax in the early 1840s, saxophones were borne from a desire to develop an instrument with the projection of a brass instrument and the agility of a woodwind. Taking his experience from his work spent improving the bass clarinet, Sax set about crafting his vision. The single-reed mouthpiece paired with conical brass body was the fundamental design patented across 14 versions split into two categories of seven instruments each. Though the saxophone initially gained interest amongst the classical music communities of Europe, it would be in America that it would truly flourish. Shifting from classical ensembles to Vaudeville and ragtime bands around the turn of the 20th century, this laid the groundwork for saxophones later occupation in dancehall orchestras and jazz. The modern saxophone as we know it today emerged during the 1930s and 1940s through the designs of C.G. Conn, King, and Selmer. Countless saxophonists and jazz orchestras not only revolutionised what the instrument Is capable of but ultimately pushed the boundaries of musical creativity, music as an art form and as a form of expression.

 

How do Saxophones work?

 

Essentially, Saxophones use a reed, which vibrates to create sound. The mouth position on the mouthpiece and reed is called the hombouchure, which allows the pitch and tone to be controlled depending on the pressure applied to the reed by the lower lip. As keys are played the instrument changes pitch. Sounds simple but it takes years of dedication and practise to master this wonderful instrument.

 

Common Types of Saxophone

 

The most common types of saxophone are Soprano, Alto, Tenor, and Baritone. The Soprano is the smallest and arguably the most challenging to play, producing the highest pitch of the common quartet. The Alto is an excellent choice for beginners and students thanks to its modest proportions and medium weight. The Tenor is most commonly used in modern music, especially across jazz and rock. Thanks to the bend in the neck crook the Tenor produces a generously throaty and full-bodied tone. The Baritone is the largest of the four, producing a resoundingly deeper sound and is commonly used in horn sections, big bands, and as a solo in R&B music.

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