Alto saxophone

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Alto saxophone
Yamaha Saxophone YAS-62.png
Woodwind instrument
Classification
Hornbostel–Sachs classification 422.212-71
(Single-reed aerophone with keys)
Inventor(s) Adolphe Sax
Developed28 June 1846 [1]
Playing range
Sax range.svg

In E: sounds a major sixth lower than written. Most modern alto saxophones can reach a high F (or higher using altissimo fingerings).
Related instruments

Military band family:


Orchestral family:


Other saxophones:

Musicians
More articles or information

The alto saxophone, also referred to as the alto sax or simply the alto, 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 smaller than the tenor but larger than the soprano. It is the most common saxophone and is commonly used in popular music, 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.

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 classical music has been limited, influential performers include Marcel Mule, Sigurd Raschèr, Jean-Marie Londeix, Eugene Rousseau, and Frederick L. Hemke.

Range

The range of the alto saxophone 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). When necessary, a player can extend the instrument's range to concert C3 by putting their knee or foot in the bell. [2] As with most types of saxophone, the standard written range is B3 to F6 (or F6). [3] Above that, the altissimo register begins at F6 (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.

The alto saxophone is a transposing instrument; pitches sound a major sixth lower than written.

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, Paul Desmond, Benny Carter, Ornette Coleman, King Curtis, Bobby Watson, Eric Dolphy, Marshall Allen, 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.

Manufacturers

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

New alto saxophones range in price between €250 ($281.05) for lower quality student models to over €6000 ($6745.20) for professional instruments.

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

Saxophone type of musical instrument of the woodwind family

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. Saxophone players are called saxophonists.

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Bass clarinet Bass 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/concert bands, occasionally in marching bands, and play an occasional solo role in contemporary music and jazz in particular.

Contrabass clarinet

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 B, 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), look the table on the right. 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.

Tenor saxophone 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".

Baritone saxophone

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.

Soprano saxophone

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 and thus highest-pitched 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 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.

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Bass saxophone Wind instrument in B♭

The bass saxophone is one of the largest members of the saxophone family—larger than the more commonly encountered baritone saxophone. 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 heard on some 1920s jazz recordings; in free jazz; in saxophone choirs; and occasionally in concert bands.

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Euphonium repertoire

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.

Saxophone quartet

A saxophone quartet is a musical ensemble composed of four saxophones, typically soprano, alto, tenor and baritone saxophones. Different saxophone family members are employed to provide a larger range and a variety of tone colours. Other arrangements of instruments also exist, but are rarer. A piece of music composed for such an ensemble can also itself be referred to as a saxophone quartet.

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References

  1. "June 28, 1846: Parisian Inventor Patents Saxophone". Wired.com. Retrieved 14 February 2011.
  2. "Playing Notes Lower Than Low Bb" . Retrieved 3 March 2020.
  3. "Range of the Alto Saxophone". Library.thinkquest.org. Archived from the original on 17 March 2009. Retrieved 18 January 2011.