(Single-reeded aerophone with keys)
|Developed||28 June 1846|
In E♭: sounds a major sixth lower than written. Most modern alto saxophones can reach a high F♯
Military band family:
The alto saxophone, also referred to as the alto sax, is a member of the saxophone family of woodwind instruments invented by Belgian instrument designer Adolphe Sax in the 1840s, and patented in 1846. It is pitched in E♭, and is smaller than the tenor, but larger than the soprano. The alto sax is the most common saxophone and is commonly used in concert bands, chamber music, solo repertoire, military bands, marching bands, and jazz (such as big bands, jazz combos, swing music). The fingerings of the different saxophones are all the same so a saxophone player can play any type of saxophone.
The saxophone is a family of woodwind instruments. Saxophones are usually made of brass and played with a single-reed mouthpiece similar to that of the clarinet. Although most saxophones are made from brass, they are categorized as woodwind instruments, because sound is produced by an oscillating reed, traditionally made out of woody cane, rather than lips vibrating in a mouthpiece cup as with the brass instrument family. As with the other woodwinds, the pitch of the note being played is controlled by covering holes in the body tube to control the resonant frequency of the air column by changing the effective length of the tube.
Antoine-Joseph "Adolphe" Sax was a Belgian inventor and musician who created the saxophone in the early 1840s, patenting it in 1846. He also invented the saxotromba, saxhorn and saxtuba. He played the flute and clarinet.
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 A♭2 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".
The range of the alto saxophone is from concert D♭3 (the D♭ below F—see Scientific pitch notation) to concert A♭5 (or A5 on altos with a high F♯ key). As with most types of saxophone, the standard written range is B♭3 to F6 (or F♯6). Above that, the altissimo register begins at F♯6 (or G6) and extends upwards. The saxophone's altissimo register is more difficult to control than that of other woodwinds and is usually only expected from advanced players.
Scientific pitch notation is a method of specifying musical pitch by combining a musical note name and a number identifying the pitch's octave.
Altissimo is the uppermost register on woodwind instruments. For clarinets, which overblow on odd harmonics, the altissimo notes are those based on the fifth, seventh, and higher harmonics. For other woodwinds, the altissimo notes are those based on the third, fourth, and higher harmonics. The altissimo register is also known as the high register.
Some notable jazz alto saxophonists include Don Redman, Jimmy Dorsey, Johnny Hodges, Benny Carter, Charlie Parker, Sonny Stitt, Lee Konitz, Jackie McLean, Phil Woods, Art Pepper, Paul Desmond, Cannonball Adderley, Eric Dolphy, Ornette Coleman, Bobby Watson, Marshall Allen, Julius Hemphill, Oliver Lake, Anthony Braxton, Henry Threadgill, Carlos Ward, David Sanborn, Tom Scott, Paquito D'Rivera, John Zorn, Tim Berne, Steve Wilson, Steve Coleman, Greg Osby, Kenny Garrett, Vincent Herring, John Coltrane, Mark Gross, and Candy Dulfer.
Donald Matthew Redman was an American jazz musician, arranger, bandleader, and composer.
James Dorsey was an American jazz clarinetist, saxophonist, composer and big band leader. He was known as "JD". He recorded and composed the jazz and pop standards "I'm Glad There Is You " and "It's The Dreamer In Me". His other major recordings were "Tailspin", "John Silver", "So Many Times", "Amapola", "Brazil ", "Pennies from Heaven" with Bing Crosby, Louis Armstrong, and Frances Langford, "Grand Central Getaway", and "So Rare". He played clarinet on the seminal jazz standards "Singin' the Blues" in 1927 and the original 1930 recording of "Georgia on My Mind", both inducted in the Grammy Hall of Fame.
John Cornelius Hodges was an American alto saxophonist, best known for solo work with Duke Ellington's big band. He played lead alto in the saxophone section for many years. Hodges was also featured on soprano saxophone, but refused to play soprano after 1946. He is considered one of the definitive alto saxophone players of the big band era.
Some notable classical alto saxophonists include Timothy McAllister, Marcel Mule, Sigurd Raschèr, Jean-Yves Fourmeau, Lawrence Gwozdz, Frederick L. Hemke, Donald Sinta, Harvey Pittel, Larry Teal, Jean-Marie Londeix, Kenneth Tse, Arno Bornkamp, Harry White, Otis Murphy, Claude Delangle and Eugene Rousseau.
Marcel Mule was a French classical saxophonist. He was known worldwide as one of the great classical saxophonists, and many pieces were written for him, premiered by him, and arranged by him. Many of these pieces have become staples in the classical saxophone repertoire. He is considered to be the founder of the French Saxophone School and the most representative saxophone soloist of his time, being a fundamental figure in the development of the instrument.
Sigurd Manfred Raschèr was an American saxophonist of German birth. He became an important figure in the development of the 20th century repertoire for the classical saxophone.
Jean-Yves Fourmeau is a French classical saxophonist and is the classical music professor at the CRR de Cergy-Pontoise.
Some companies that currently produce saxophones are Buffet Crampon, KHS/Jupiter, Conn-Selmer, Selmer Paris, Yamaha, Leblanc/Vito, Keilwerth, Cannonball and Yanagisawa. New alto saxophones range in price between €250 ($281.05) for lower quality student models to over €6000 ($6745.20) for professional models.
Buffet Crampon is a French manufacturer of woodwind musical instruments, including oboes, flutes, saxophones, english horns and bassoons; however, the company is perhaps most famous for their clarinets, as Buffet is the brand of choice for many professionals.
KHS Musical Instruments Co., Ltd was founded in Taiwan in 1930 as an educational products company, and gained success in the 1950s as a producer of musical instruments. Currently KHS is a full-scale musical instrument manufacturer of a complete line of wind instruments, percussion, fretted instrument, and stand products. KHS was first founded with the Wan Wu (萬屋株式會社) name in Taiwan in 1930 as an educational products company and was renamed to KHS in 1945. KHS stands for Kung Hsue She (功學社) which means a company helping schools and culture. KHS started harmonica production in 1956 and started band instrument production a year later in 1957. By 1980 KHS was a full-scale musical instrument manufacturer and the Jupiter brand was started to market a complete line of wind instruments and percussion. KHS also began supplying instruments for export and sale under the American Vito brand. In 1985 KHS established the Musix company. KHS established Altus Co., Ltd. to manufacture professional flutes in 1990, and acquired Ross Mallet Instruments in 1994. Since 2010 Jupiter manufactures the ST line of saxophones for the German company Keilwerth.
Jupiter Band Instruments, Inc. is a manufacturer and distributor of woodwind, brass and percussion instruments. Jupiter was established by its Taiwanese parent company KHS in 1980.
The alto saxophone has a large classical solo repertoire that includes solos with orchestra, piano and wind symphony. Two of the most well-known solo compositions are Jacques Ibert's " Concertino da Camera " and Alexander Glazunov's " Concerto in E Flat major ".
An orchestra is a large instrumental ensemble typical of classical music, which combines instruments from different families, including bowed string instruments such as the violin, viola, cello, and double bass, brass instruments such as the horn, trumpet, trombone and tuba, woodwinds such as the flute, oboe, clarinet and bassoon, and percussion instruments such as the timpani, bass drum, triangle, snare drum and cymbals, each grouped in sections. Other instruments such as the piano and celesta may sometimes appear in a fifth keyboard section or may stand alone, as may the concert harp and, for performances of some modern compositions, electronic instruments.
The piano is an acoustic, stringed musical instrument invented in Italy by Bartolomeo Cristofori around the year 1700, in which the strings are struck by hammers. It is played using a keyboard, which is a row of keys that the performer presses down or strikes with the fingers and thumbs of both hands to cause the hammers to strike the strings.
A concert band, also called wind ensemble, symphonic band, wind symphony, wind orchestra, wind band, symphonic winds, symphony band, or symphonic wind ensemble, is a performing ensemble consisting of members of the woodwind, brass, and percussion families of instruments, and occasionally including the double bass or bass guitar. On rare occasions, additional non-traditional instruments may be added to such ensembles such as piano, harp, synthesizer, or electric guitar.
Also, the alto saxophone is part of the standard instrumentation of concert bands and saxophone quartets. Alexander Glazunov, for instance, composed the Saxophone Quartet in B-flat major in 1932.
The alto saxophone is also occasionally used in orchestral compositions. Several orchestral examples are listed below.
Paul Creston was an Italian American composer of classical music.
Simon Proctor is a British composer, pianist, and flautist, known for his works for unusual instruments.
The contrabass clarinet and contra-alto clarinet are the two largest members of the clarinet family that are in common usage. Modern contrabass clarinets are pitched in BB♭, sounding two octaves lower than the common B♭ soprano clarinet and one octave lower than the B♭ bass clarinet. Some contrabass clarinet models have a range extending down to low (written) E♭, while others can play down to low D or further to low C. This range, C(3) – E(6), sounds B♭(0) – D(4). Some early instruments were pitched in C; Arnold Schoenberg's Fünf Orchesterstücke specifies a contrabass clarinet in A, but there is no evidence of such an instrument ever having existed.
The baritone saxophone or "bari sax" is one of the larger members of the saxophone family, only being smaller than the bass, contrabass and subcontrabass saxophones. It is the lowest-pitched saxophone in common use. The baritone saxophone uses a mouthpiece, reed, and ligature in order to produce sound. It is larger than the tenor, alto and soprano saxophones, which are the other commonly found members of the family. The baritone saxophone is commonly used in classical music such as concert band, chamber music, military bands, jazz. It also is occasionally employed in marching bands, though less frequently than other saxophones due to its size and weight.
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 soprillo, sopranino, soprano, alto, tenor, baritone, bass, contrabass saxophone and tubax. Soprano saxophones are the smallest saxophone in common use.
Fred Hemke, DMA(néFrederick Leroy Hemke, Jr.; July 11, 1935 – April 17, 2019) was an American virtuoso classical saxophonist and influential former professor of saxophone at Northwestern University. Hemke helped raise the popularity of classical saxophone, particularly among leading American composers and helped raise the recognition of classical saxophone in solo, chamber, and major orchestral repertoire. For a half 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, and a handful of peer American saxophonists — including Eugene Rousseau and Donald Sinta — 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 Europe it is sometimes called a tenor clarinet. In size it lies between the soprano clarinet and the bass clarinet, to which it bears a greater resemblance 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 tone lower, it lacks an extended lower range, and it has a wider bore than many basset horns.
Pierre Max Dubois was a French composer of classical music. He was a student of Darius Milhaud, and though not widely popular, was respected. He brought the ideas of Les Six, of which his instructor was a member, into the mid-1900s. This group called for a fresh artistic perspective on music. The music of Dubois is characteristically light hearted with interesting harmonic and melodic textures.
Václav Nelhýbel was a Czech American composer, mainly of works for student performers.
The contrabass saxophone is the second-lowest-pitched extant member of the saxophone family proper. It is extremely large and heavy, and is pitched in the key of E♭, one octave below the baritone saxophone.
The bass saxophone is one of the largest members of the saxophone family—larger than the more commonly encountered baritone saxophone. It was the first type of saxophone exhibited to the public, when Adolphe Sax presented a bass saxophone in C at an exhibition in Brussels in 1841. The modern bass saxophone is a transposing instrument pitched in B♭, an octave below the tenor saxophone. The bass saxophone is not a commonly used instrument, but it is to be heard on some 1920s jazz recordings; in free jazz; and in saxophone choirs.
Leon Stein was an American composer and music analyst.
Gary Kulesha is a Canadian composer, pianist, conductor, and educator. Since 1995, he has been Composer Advisor to the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. He has been Composer-in-Residence with the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony (1988–1992) and the Canadian Opera Company (1993–1995). He was awarded the National Arts Centre Orchestra Composer Award in 2002. He currently teaches on the music faculty at the University of Toronto.
The woodwind section, which consists of woodwind instruments, is one of the main sections of an orchestra or concert band. Woodwind sections contain instruments given Hornbostel-Sachs classifications of 421 and 422, but exclude 423.
Timothy McAllister is an American classical saxophonist and educator. Born in 1972, he gave his solo debut at age 16 with the Houston Civic Symphony. As a teenager he attended the Interlochen Center for the Arts, where he was a pupil of Dr. John Sampen. He studied saxophone with Donald Sinta and conducting with H. Robert Reynolds at the University of Michigan. He holds a Bachelor of Music (1995), the Albert A. Stanley Medal (1995), Masters of Music (1997), and a Doctor of Musical Arts (2002). As of 2014 he has been appointed to the position of Associate Professor of Saxophone at the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre and Dance a title held previously by Donald Sinta and Larry Teal. Each summer he teaches saxophone at Interlochen with his PRISM Quartet. Prior to his post at Michigan, he succeeded Dr. Frederick Hemke at Northwestern University following his retirement after 50 years of teaching.