Bass saxophone

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Bass Saxophone
1920s Pan American Bass Saxophone.jpg
A 1920s Conn bass saxophone
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 B: sounds two octaves and a major second lower than written
Related instruments

Military band family:


Orchestral family:


Other saxophones:

Musicians
More articles or information

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.

Contents

The instrument was first used in 1844, both by Hector Berlioz in an arrangement of his Chant sacre, and by Georges Kastner in his opera Le Dernier Roi de Juda. In the 1950s and 1960s it enjoyed a brief vogue in orchestrations for musical theater: Leonard Bernstein’s original score for West Side Story includes bass saxophone, as does Meredith Willson’s Music Man and Sandy Wilson’s The Boy Friend . Australian composer Percy Grainger and American composer Warren Benson have championed the use of the instrument in their music for concert band.

Although bass saxophones in C were made for orchestral use, modern instruments are in B. This puts them a perfect fourth below the baritone and an octave lower than the tenor. Music is written in treble clef, just as for the other saxophones, with the pitches sounding two octaves and a major second lower than written. As with most other members of the saxophone family, the lowest written note is the B below the staff—sounding as a concert A in the first octave (~ 51.9 Hz). German wind instrument maker Benedikt Eppelsheim has made bass saxophones to low A, similarly to the extension in the baritone saxophone. This sounds as a concert G in the first octave (~ 49 Hz).

Until the start of the 21st century, the largest existing member of the saxophone family was the rare contrabass, pitched in E, a perfect fifth lower than the bass. Inventor Adolphe Sax had a patent for a subcontrabass saxophone (or bourdon saxophone), but apparently never built a fully functioning instrument. In 1999, Benedikt Eppelsheim introduced the subcontrabass tubax, a modified saxophone pitched in B an octave below the bass saxophone.

In jazz

The bass saxophone enjoyed some measure of popularity in jazz combos and dance bands between World War I and World War II, primarily providing bass lines, although players occasionally took melodic solos. Notable players of this era include Billy Fowler, Coleman Hawkins, Otto Hardwicke (of the Duke Ellington orchestra), Adrian Rollini (who was a pioneer bass sax solos in the 1920s into the 1930s), Min Leibrook, Spencer Clark, Charlie Ventura and Vern Brown of the Six Brown Brothers. [2] The bass sax became more scarce in standard jazz band instrumentation during the mid-to-late 1920s. Sheet music of the period shows many bands photographed with a bass sax in their collection of instruments. It was sometimes played by the tuba or string bass player rather a member of the sax section.

American bandleader Boyd Raeburn (1913–1966), who led an avant-garde big band in the 1940s, was a sometime bass saxophonist. In Britain, the leader of the Oscar Rabin Band also played it. Harry Gold, a member of Rabin's band, played bass saxophone in his own band, Pieces of Eight. American bandleader Stan Kenton's "Mellophonium Orchestra" (1960–1963) featured fourteen brass players and used a saxophone section of one alto, two tenors, baritone, and bass on Johnny Richards' compositions. Joel Kaye played baritone and bass saxophone in that band. The ensemble recorded several successful albums, winning two Grammys. [3] The Lawrence Welk Band featured Bill Page soloing on bass sax on several broadcasts during the 1960s. Shorty Rogers's Swingin' Nutcracker (recorded for RCA Victor in 1960) featured a bass saxophone on four of the movements (played by Bill Hood).

The 1970s traditional jazz band The Memphis Nighthawks built their sound around diminutive bass saxophonist Dave Feinman. Some revivalist bass saxophonists performing today in the 1920s–1930s style are Vince Giordano and Bert Brandsma, leader of the Dixieland Crackerjacks. Jazz players using the instrument in a more contemporary style include Roscoe Mitchell, Anthony Braxton, Peter Brötzmann, J. D. Parran, Hamiet Bluiett, James Carter, Stefan Zeniuk, Michael Marcus (musician) Vinny Golia, Joseph Jarman, Brian Landrus, Urs Leimgruber, Tony Bevan, and Scott Robinson, although none of these players use it as their primary instrument. Shannon Mowday favors bari and bass saxes, as well as contralto clarinet.

Jan Garbarek plays a bass sax on the 1973 album Red Lanta.

In rock

Bass saxophonists in rock include:

In classical music

The bass saxophone is sometimes used as an instrument in concert bands, typically in arrangements made before 1950. It is used most frequently in saxophone choirs, specifically those in the direct legacy of teacher-soloist Sigurd Rascher.

It is rarely used in orchestral music, though several examples exist. The earliest extant work to employ it is William Henry Fry's "sacred symphony" Hagar In the Wilderness (1853), which also calls for soprano saxophone and was written for Louis-Antoine Jullien's orchestra during its American tour. It was also used by Richard Strauss in his Sinfonia Domestica , where included in the music are parts for four saxophones including a bass saxophone in C. Arnold Schoenberg wrote for the bass sax in his one-act opera Von Heute auf Morgen , and Karlheinz Stockhausen includes a part for it in the saxophone section of Lucifer's Dance, the third scene of Samstag aus Licht .

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 cane 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.

Saxhorn Family of valved brass instruments

The saxhorn is a family of valved brass instruments that have conical bores and deep cup-shaped mouthpieces. The saxhorn family was developed by Adolphe Sax, who is also known for creating the saxophone family. The sound of the saxhorn has a characteristic mellow tone quality and blends well with other brass.

Tuba Type of musical instrument of the brass family

The tuba is the lowest-pitched musical instrument in the brass family. As with all brass instruments, the sound is produced by lip vibration, or a buzz, into a mouthpiece. It first appeared in the mid-19th century, making it one of the newer instruments in the modern orchestra and concert band. The tuba largely replaced the ophicleide. Tuba is Latin for "trumpet".

Jazz band

A jazz band is a musical ensemble that plays jazz music. Jazz bands vary in the quantity of its members and the style of jazz that they play but it is common to find a jazz band made up of a rhythm section and a horn section.

Sarrusophone

The sarrusophones are a family of transposing woodwind musical instruments patented and placed into production by Pierre-Louis Gautrot in 1856. Originally designed as double-reed instruments, sarrusophones were later developed that used single-reed mouthpieces, at least for some of the larger sizes. It was named after the French bandmaster Pierre-Auguste Sarrus (1813–1876), who is credited with the concept of the instrument, though it is not clear whether Sarrus benefited financially from this association. The instrument was intended to serve as a replacement in wind bands for the oboe and bassoon, which, at that time, lacked the carrying power required for outdoor band music.

Bass clarinet

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 refers to several musical instruments of very low pitch—generally one octave below bass register instruments. While the term most commonly refers to the double bass, many other instruments in the contrabass register exist.

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). 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.

Alto saxophone Type of saxophone

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 is smaller than the tenor, but larger than the soprano. The alto sax is the most common saxophone and is commonly used in popular music, concert bands, chamber music, solo repertoire, military bands, marching bands, and jazz. The fingerings of the different saxophones are all the same so a saxophone player can play any type of saxophone.

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.

Tubax

The tubax is a modified saxophone developed in 1999 by the German instrument maker Benedikt Eppelsheim. It exists in both E contrabass and B or C subcontrabass sizes. Its name is a portmanteau of the words "tuba" and "sax". The first size of tubax to be developed was the E contrabass. It has the same register as a regular contrabass saxophone but is much more compact due to its tubing being folded more times. While the timbre of the E tubax is more focused and compact than that of the full-sized contrabass saxophone, it still blends well with other sizes of saxophones and can be played with surprising agility compared to its size. The subcontrabass tubax uses a baritone saxophone or bass saxophone mouthpiece. While several B subcontrabasses are already in use, only one C model has been manufactured. It was sold to Thomas Mejer of Switzerland in July 2002; he has recorded on it with Peter A. Schmid as the "Two Tubax Duo."

Subcontrabass saxophone

The subcontrabass saxophone is a type of saxophone that Adolphe Sax patented and planned to build but never constructed. Sax called this imagined instrument saxophone bourdon. It is a transposing instrument pitched in B, one octave below the bass saxophone, two octaves below the tenor saxophone, and three octaves and a major second below its written pitch.

Contrabass saxophone

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.

Sopranino saxophone

The sopranino saxophone is one of the smallest members of the saxophone family. It is tuned in the key of E, and sounds an octave higher than the alto saxophone. The sopranino saxophone has a sweet sound and although it is one of the least common of the saxophones in regular use today, it is still being produced by several of the major musical manufacturing companies. Due to their small size, sopraninos are not usually curved like other saxophones. Orsi, however, does make curved sopranino saxophones.

Marching brass

Marching brass instruments are brass instruments specially designed to be played while moving. Most instruments do not have a marching version - only the following have marching versions:

Subcontrabass tuba

The subcontrabass tuba is an extension of the tuba family within the modern contrabass tuba. At least five known examples have been created, all pitched in BBBb, sounding a full octave lower than standard BBb contrabass tubas. The fundamental frequency of the subcontrabass tuba is B♭−1. Music for them is written in bass clef, sounding a full octave lower than notated.

The western concert flute family has a wide range of instruments.

References

  1. "June 28, 1846: Parisian Inventor Patents Saxophone". Wired.com. Retrieved 14 February 2011.
  2. "Six Brown Brothers". Redhotjazz.com. Archived from the original on 24 February 2015. Retrieved 19 May 2014.
  3. "Stan Kenton Biography". Wayback.archive.org. Archived from the original on 4 March 2008. Retrieved 19 May 2014.CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)