Whether you're just a music admirer enchanted by the sound of the saxophone, an aspiring musician learning to play this instrument, or a well-experienced master, it might be interesting for you to discover some amazing facts about the saxophone.
- The saxophone belongs to the woodwind family of instruments, although it's commonly constructed from brass. The reason for this classification is the method of producing sound. The embouchure of a player forms an airtight seal over the mouthpiece, causing a single reed to vibrate, similar to the technique used in playing a clarinet.
- We mentioned brass, an alloy composed mainly of copper and zinc, as the commonly used material for producing these instruments; however, there can be exceptions. To improve certain features and overall performance, manufacturers may use bronze or sterling silver, especially in higher-end models. The keys and mechanisms controlling pitch and tone are commonly made of brass or other alloys.
- The most crucial part of the saxophone is the mouthpiece. Primarily, these components were made out of grenadilla and rosewood, and then manufacturers started using softwoods such as boxwood. Later hard rubber mouthpieces gained popularity due to practical features like strength and versatility. Today, both jazz and classical musicians favor mouthpieces made of rubber. Another favorite among saxophone players is the metal mouthpiece, helping to produce powerful tones. Aspiring musicians tend to choose cheaper plastic mouthpieces. Apart from that, you can still buy wooden mouthpieces from a few manufacturers, and some even produce ceramic models.
- Sometimes people talk about the dynamic personality of the saxophone. It's not just words because the saxophone is the widest representative in the family of woodwinds. Due to the conical bore, and not a cylindrical one, its tube narrows toward one end, unlike a clarinet, making it possible for the saxophone to produce a voice-like sound. Thanks to that feature, this instrument conveys versatile emotions, and this is the reason why the sax is so popular for performing solos. This is also the reason why it had such a great impact on classical and jazz music and is favored by musicians in orchestras, chamber groups, and wind ensembles.
- The difference between classical and jazz saxophones is very optional. Speaking about jazz saxophones, musicians usually keep in mind the models with a larger bore. These instruments produce raspy tones, which contribute to the overall texture of jazz music and help them to stand out during solo performances. Classical saxophones are characterized by a refined tone and crisp articulation. These models provide players with a clearer sound and better precise control over pitch and dynamics. However, there are many jazz saxophonists who tend to use classical models, and classical players who really like Jazz saxes.
- In the 19th century, the saxophone was commonly used in military bands due to its ability to produce a loud sound outdoors. French military bands contributed to the popularity of the instrument in military music. However, they also implemented some changes to its design to make it a better instrument for outdoor performance.
- There are eight members in the saxophone family, each one with a distinct pitch range: sopranino, soprano, alto, tenor, baritone, bass, contrabass, and subcontrabass. This variety allows musicians to perform different tones across various musical styles.
- The saxophone is considered to be the synonymous with the jazz genre, as they are closely connected. Its powerful expression and distinctive sound earned it a place in jazz ensembles and bands. Famous jazz players John Coltrane and Charlie Parker pushed the boundaries of saxophone performance even further, using it to convey complex ideas and rich emotions that resonate with the listeners.
- The key system of the saxophone, developed by Adolphe Sax, is revolutionary. Thanks to it, the musicians could experience a smooth transition from one note to another, a huge innovation of the past. Containing a complex arrangement of pads, levers, and keys, the system helped to have better control over the sax's pitch and tonality. During the following years, it had been improved and refined; however, it still retains the principles laid down by Sax.
- The title of the largest saxophone belongs to the subcontrabass. It's over 6 feet in height and is characterized by deep, resonant tones. On the opposite end, the sopranissimo saxophone is the smallest in the family, measuring only 12 inches.
Great facts about the saxophone. I love it. I have 3 of the saxophone group and I enjoy playing all of them.