The history of the Saxophone
The saxophone was invented by a Belgian, Antoine Joseph (Adolphe) Sax in 1841 while he was in Brussels. Sax, an expert musician, became aware of the tonal disparity between strings and woodwinds, as well as brasses and winds. He noticed that the woodwinds were being overpowered by the brasses, and the strings were being overpowered by the winds. He wanted to create an instrument that would bridge the gap between these three instrument sections. Sax combined the body of a brass instrument and the mouthpiece of a woodwind instrument, and the saxophone was born. The brass was later replaced by metal. The instrument has a wide conical bore, a slightly flared bell, and a beaked mouthpiece similar to that of a clarinet. It is played with a single reed.
In 1845 the saxophone was introduced into French military bands. Until then these bands used oboes, bassoons, and french horns. Before 1845 the saxophone was scored for orchestra and opera, particularly in France.
Adolphe Sax patented the saxophone in France on June 28, 1846. The patent was for a period of fifteen years. The patent covered two groups of instruments with a total of 14. They were the E flat sopranino, F sopranino, B flat soprano, C soprano, E flat alto, F alto, B flat tenor, C tenor, E flat baritone, B flat bass, C bass, E flat contrabass, and F contrabass. Each instrument was of a different size. One group of seven was pitched alternatively in F and C, for orchestral use. The other group of seven was pitched in E-Flat and B-Flat for military band use. Saxophones are transposing instruments, which means that you do not play the notes exactly as they are written. Instead, you must transpose them. The only exception is the orchestral soprano in C.
Imporant dates in the history of the saxophone.
On February 14, 1847, a saxophone school was created in Paris. It was set up at a military band school called Gymnase Musical.
In 1858, Adolphe Sax became a professor at the Paris Conservatory.
When Sax's patent expired in 1866, the Millereau Co. patented the saxophone featuring a forked F# key.
In 1875, Goumas patented the saxophone with a fingering similar to the clarinet's Boehm system.
Sax extended his original patent in 1881 and made various changes to the instrument. This included lengthening the bell to include B-flat and A, and extending the range of the saxophone to F# and G using the fourth octave key.
The first saxophone was built in the US by Gus Buesher in 1885.
In 1886, right hand C trill key was introduced and half-hole system for the first fingers of both hands.
Adolphe Sax died in 1894, and his son, Adolphe Edouard, took over the business.
The saxophone was originally designed to have a smooth, mellow and balanced tone. But the instrument just could not compete with the blaring trumpets, loud drums, noisy feet, and shouting that was typical of the surroundings of twentieth century dance bands. As a result it had to be altered. A smaller, more parallel mouthpiece was designed and this resulted in a much needed loud, obnoxious sound, perfect for jazz and dance music.
Many of the saxophones invented by Adolphe Sax have become obsolete. The five popular ones of today are the bass, baritone, tenor, alto and soprano saxophone, with the alto and tenor being the most popular. Today, saxophone music is enjoyed by people everywhere and has become part of almost every genre of music.
About the Author:
Mantius Cazaubon is a successful author and publisher of The Saxophone.com. A resource for information on the entire saxophone family