Alto saxophone

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Alto saxophone
Yamaha Saxophone YAS-62.png
Woodwind instrument
Classification Single-reed
Hornbostel–Sachs classification 422.212-71
(Single-reed aerophone with keys)
Inventor(s) Adolphe Sax
Developed1840s
Playing range
Alto saxophone range.svg
The alto saxophone in E sounds a major sixth lower than written. Most professional models have a high F♯ key, although higher notes are possible using altissimo fingerings
Related instruments
Sizes:
Orchestral saxophones:
Specialty saxophones:
Musicians
See list of saxophonists

The alto saxophone is a member of the saxophone family of woodwind instruments. Saxophones were invented by Belgian instrument designer Adolphe Sax in the 1840s and patented in 1846. The alto saxophone is pitched in the key of E, smaller than the B tenor but larger than the B soprano. It is the most common saxophone and is used in popular music, concert bands, chamber music, solo repertoire, military bands, marching bands, pep bands, carnatic music, and jazz (such as big bands, jazz combos, swing music).

Contents

The alto saxophone had a prominent role in the development of jazz. Influential jazz musicians who made significant contributions include Don Redman, Jimmy Dorsey, Johnny Hodges, Benny Carter, Charlie Parker, Sonny Stitt, Lee Konitz, Jackie McLean, Phil Woods, Art Pepper, Paul Desmond, and Cannonball Adderley.

Although the role of the alto saxophone in orchestral music has been limited, influential performers include Marcel Mule, Sigurd Raschèr, Jean-Marie Londeix, Eugene Rousseau, and Frederick L. Hemke.

Range

As with most saxophones, the alto's written range is B3 to F6 (or F6), [1] with the higher altissimo register starting at F6 (or G6). The saxophone's altissimo register is more difficult to control than that of other woodwinds and is usually only expected from advanced players.

The alto saxophone is a transposing instrument, with pitches sounding a major sixth lower than written. In terms of concert pitches, the alto saxophone's range is from concert D3 (the D below middle C—see Scientific pitch notation) to concert A5 (or A5 on altos with a high F key).

A few rare alto saxophones, like some Selmer Mark VI models, have been keyed to reach a low A, a semitone lower, similar to baritone saxophones. [2] [3]

Alto saxophonists

Free jazz pioneer Ornette Coleman playing the alto sax Ornette-Coleman-2008-Heidelberg-schindelbeck.jpg
Free jazz pioneer Ornette Coleman playing the alto sax

Notable jazz alto saxophonists include Charlie Parker, Cannonball Adderley, Johnny Hodges, Sonny Stitt, Paul Desmond, Benny Carter, Ornette Coleman, Bobby Watson, Eric Dolphy, Marshall Allen, Art Pepper, Julius Hemphill, Oliver Lake, Anthony Braxton, Henry Threadgill, Carlos Ward, David Sanborn, Dave Koz, Tom Scott, Paquito D'Rivera, John Zorn, Tim Berne, Steve Wilson, Steve Coleman, Greg Osby, Vincent Herring, Mark Gross, Kenny Garrett, and Jeff Coffin.

Notable classical alto saxophonists include Tim McAllister, Jean-Yves Fourmeau, Lawrence Gwozdz, Donald Sinta, Harvey Pittel, Larry Teal, Kenneth Tse, Arno Bornkamp, Harry White, Otis Murphy, Claude Delangle.

Kadri Gopalnath was the pioneer of Carnatic music for the instrument. Rudresh Mahanthappa combines elements of jazz and Carnatic music for the alto saxophone. [4]


Manufacturers

Companies that currently produce saxophones include Buffet Crampon, KHS/Jupiter, Conn-Selmer, Selmer Paris, Yamaha, Leblanc/Vito, Keilwerth, Cannonball, and Yanagisawa.

Yamaha YAS-62 alto saxophone YAS-62.jpg
Yamaha YAS-62 alto saxophone

Classical music repertoire

The alto saxophone has a large classical solo repertoire that includes solos with orchestra, piano, and wind symphony. Two important solo compositions are Jacques Ibert's " Concertino da Camera " and Alexander Glazunov's " Concerto in E Flat major ".

The alto saxophone is found in the standard instrumentation of concert bands and saxophone quartets. Alexander Glazunov composed his Saxophone Quartet in B-flat major in 1932.

The alto saxophone is sometimes used in orchestral music. Some of the compositions where it appears are listed below.

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Saxophone</span> Single-reed woodwind instrument

The saxophone is a type of single-reed woodwind instrument with a conical body, usually made of brass. As with all single-reed instruments, sound is produced when a reed on a mouthpiece vibrates to produce a sound wave inside the instrument's body. The pitch is controlled by opening and closing holes in the body to change the effective length of the tube. The holes are closed by leather pads attached to keys operated by the player. Saxophones are made in various sizes and are almost always treated as transposing instruments. A person who plays the saxophone is called a saxophonist or saxist.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sarrusophone</span> Family of metal double-reed wind instruments

The sarrusophones are a family of metal double reed conical bore woodwind instruments patented and first manufactured by French instrument maker Pierre-Louis Gautrot in 1856. Gautrot named the sarrusophone after French bandmaster Pierre-Auguste Sarrus (1813–1876), whom he credited with the concept of the instrument, though it is not clear whether Sarrus benefited financially. The instruments were intended for military bands, to serve as replacements for oboes and bassoons which at the time lacked the carrying power required for outdoor marching music. Although originally designed as double-reed instruments, single-reed mouthpieces were later developed for use with the larger bass and contrabass sarrusophones.

<i>Rhapsody in Blue</i> 1924 composition by George Gershwin

Rhapsody in Blue is a 1924 musical composition written by George Gershwin for solo piano and jazz band, which combines elements of classical music with jazz-influenced effects. Commissioned by bandleader Paul Whiteman, the work premiered in a concert titled "An Experiment in Modern Music" on February 12, 1924, in Aeolian Hall, New York City. Whiteman's band performed the rhapsody with Gershwin playing the piano. Whiteman's arranger Ferde Grofé orchestrated the rhapsody several times including the 1924 original scoring, the 1926 pit orchestra scoring, and the 1942 symphonic scoring.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bass clarinet</span> Member of the clarinet family

The bass clarinet is a musical instrument of the clarinet family. Like the more common soprano B clarinet, it is usually pitched in B, but it plays notes an octave below the soprano B clarinet. Bass clarinets in other keys, notably C and A, also exist, but are very rare. Bass clarinets regularly perform in orchestras, wind ensembles and concert bands, and occasionally in marching bands, and play an occasional solo role in contemporary music and jazz in particular.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tenor saxophone</span> Type of saxophone

The tenor saxophone is a medium-sized member of the saxophone family, a group of instruments invented by Adolphe Sax in the 1840s. The tenor and the alto are the two most commonly used saxophones. The tenor is pitched in the key of B (while the alto is pitched in the key of E), and written as a transposing instrument in the treble clef, sounding an octave and a major second lower than the written pitch. Modern tenor saxophones which have a high F key have a range from A2 to E5 (concert) and are therefore pitched one octave below the soprano saxophone. People who play the tenor saxophone are known as "tenor saxophonists", "tenor sax players", or "saxophonists".

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Baritone saxophone</span> Lowest-pitched saxophone in common use

The baritone saxophone is a member of the saxophone family of instruments, larger than the tenor saxophone, but smaller than the bass. It is the lowest-pitched saxophone in common use - the bass, contrabass and subcontrabass saxophones are relatively uncommon. Like all saxophones, it is a single-reed instrument. It is commonly used in concert bands, chamber music, military bands, big bands, and jazz combos. It can also be found in other ensembles such as rock bands and marching bands. Modern baritone saxophones are pitched in E.

The soprano saxophone is a higher-register variety of the saxophone, a woodwind instrument invented in the 1840s. The soprano is the third-smallest member of the saxophone family, which consists of the sopranissimo, sopranino, soprano, alto, tenor, baritone, bass, contrabass saxophone. Soprano saxophones are the smallest and thus highest-pitched saxophone in common use.

Frederick L. Hemke, DMA(néFred LeRoy Hemke Jr.; July 11, 1935 – April 17, 2019) was an American virtuoso classical saxophonist and influential professor of saxophone at Northwestern University. Hemke helped to increase the popularity of classical saxophone, particularly among leading American composers. He contributed to raise the recognition of the classical saxophone in solo, chamber, and major orchestral repertoire throughout the world. For half a century, from 1962 to 2012, Hemke was a full-time faculty music educator at Northwestern University's Bienen School of Music. In 2002, Hemke was named Associate Dean Emeritus of the School of Music. Hemke retired from Northwestern University in 2012. From the start of his career in the early 1960s, building on the achievements of earlier influential American teachers of classical saxophone — including those of Larry Teal, Joseph Allard, Cecil Leeson, Sigurd Raschèr, and Vincent Abato — Hemke helped build American saxophone repertoire through composers that included Muczynski, Creston, Stein, Heiden, and Karlins. Journalist and author Michael Segell, in his 2005 book, The Devil's Horn, called Hemke "The Dean of Saxophone Education in America." Hemke died on April 17, 2019.

The alto clarinet is a woodwind instrument of the clarinet family. It is a transposing instrument pitched in the key of E, though instruments in F have been made. In size it lies between the soprano clarinet and the bass clarinet. It bears a greater resemblance to the bass clarinet in that it typically has a straight body, but a curved neck and bell made of metal. All-metal alto clarinets also exist. In appearance it strongly resembles the basset horn, but usually differs in three respects: it is pitched a whole step lower, it lacks an extended lower range, and it has a wider bore than many basset horns.

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bass saxophone</span> Wind instrument

The bass saxophone is one of the lowest-pitched members of the saxophone family—larger and lower than the more common baritone saxophone. It was likely the first type of saxophone built by Adolphe Sax, as first observed by Berlioz in 1842. It is a transposing instrument pitched in B, an octave below the tenor saxophone and a perfect fourth below the baritone saxophone. A bass saxophone in C, intended for orchestral use, was included in Adolphe Sax's patent, but few known examples were built. The bass saxophone is not a commonly used instrument, but it is heard on some 1920s jazz recordings, in free jazz, in saxophone choirs and sextets, and occasionally in concert bands and rock music.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sopranino saxophone</span> Single-reed woodwind instrument

The sopranino saxophone is the second-smallest member of the saxophone family. It is tuned in the key of E♭, and sounds an octave higher than the alto saxophone. A sopranino in F was also described in Adolphe Sax's patent, an octave above an F alto (mezzo-soprano), but there are no known built instruments.

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Rudresh Mahanthappa</span> Musical artist

Rudresh Mahanthappa is a New York-based jazz alto saxophonist and composer.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Euphonium repertoire</span> Set of available musical works for euphonium

The euphonium repertoire consists of solo literature and parts in band or, less commonly, orchestral music written for the euphonium. Since its invention in 1843, the euphonium has always had an important role in ensembles, but solo literature was slow to appear, consisting of only a handful of lighter solos until the 1960s. Since then, however, the breadth and depth of the solo euphonium repertoire has increased dramatically.

<i>Tragicomic</i> (album) 2008 studio album by Vijay Iyer

Tragicomic is an album by American jazz pianist Vijay Iyer, which was recorded in 2007 and released on the Sunnyside label. The follow-up to Reimagining, the record features ten Iyer's compositions for his quartet with Rudresh Mahanthappa on alto sax, Stephan Crump on bass and Marcus Gilmore on drums, and two covers: a dub version of Bud Powell's "Comin' Up" and a solo piano interpretation of the standard "I'm All Smiles".

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Fantasia for saxophone, three horns, and strings</span> Concertante work by Heitor Villa-Lobos

Fantasia for saxophone, three horns, and strings, W. 490, is a concertante work in three movements by the Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos, written in 1948. A performance of it lasts approximately ten minutes.

References

  1. "Range of the Alto Saxophone". Library.thinkquest.org. Archived from the original on 17 March 2009. Retrieved 18 January 2011.
  2. "The Selmer Mark VI". SaxPics. USA Vintage Horn Corp. Retrieved 6 March 2023.
  3. "Couesnon Low A alto, the OTHER low A alto". Stohrer Music. Retrieved 6 March 2023.
  4. "Rudresh Mahanthappa: Getting To Know Who I Am". Stohrer Music. Retrieved 6 January 2024.