Mezzo-soprano saxophone

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Mezzo-soprano saxophone
Saxalto&mezzo.jpg
Mezzo-soprano (left) and alto (right) saxophones.
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 F: sounds a perfect fifth lower than written.
Sounding: Sounding range of mezzo-soprano saxophone.png
Related instruments

Military band family:


Orchestral family:


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The mezzo-soprano saxophone, sometimes called the F alto saxophone, is an instrument in the saxophone family. It is in the key of F, pitched a whole tone above the alto saxophone. Its size and the sound are similar to the E alto, although the upper register sounds more like a B soprano. Very few mezzo-sopranos exist—they were only produced in 1928 and 1929 by the C.G. Conn company. They were not popular and did not sell widely, as their production coincided with the Wall Street Crash of 1929 and the Great Depression. Harsh economic conditions forced Conn to reduce the range of saxophones they produced to the most popular models.

Contents

Conn used the surplus stock of mezzo-sopranos to teach instrument repair in Conn's Elkhart workshops. Typically, a Conn instructor would deliberately damage the mezzo-sopranos (e.g. dropping them onto a concrete floor) and the students would then be tasked with repairing them. The repeated wear and tear of these actions eventually destroyed the saxophones.

The mezzo-soprano is the only saxophone pitched in F, apart from a few prototypes of an F baritone saxophone. (Although Maurice Ravel's 1928 orchestral work Boléro calls for a sopranino saxophone in F, it is unlikely that such an instrument ever existed; nowadays the sopranino saxophone part is usually played on a soprano saxophone).

Notable players of the mezzo-soprano saxophone include Anthony Braxton, James Carter, Vinny Golia, Jon Irabagon, and Jay Easton.

More recently a mezzo-soprano in the key of G has been produced by Danish woodwind technician Peter Jessen, most notably played by Benjamin Koppel and Joe Lovano. Their collaboration can be heard on "The Mezzo Sax Encounter" (vinyl and CD, 2016) where Koppel and Lovano are accompanied by pianist Kenny Werner, bassist Scott Colley and Drummer Johnathan Blake. This instrument is more in the timbral quality of the B soprano saxophone.

In classical music

It was asked for by Richard Strauss in his Sinfonia Domestica written in 1903-1904, where included in the music are parts for four saxophones including an alto saxophone in F.

Related Research Articles

Saxophone type of musical instrument of the woodwind family

The saxophone is a family of woodwind instruments usually made of brass and played with a single-reed mouthpiece. Although most saxophones are made from brass, they are categorized as woodwind instruments because sound is produced by an oscillating reed rather than lips vibrating in a mouthpiece cup as with the brass instrument family. As with the other woodwind instruments, 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. The player covers or uncovers the holes by pressing keys.

Clef Musical symbol used to indicate the pitch of written notes

A clef is a musical symbol used to indicate which notes are represented by the lines and spaces on a musical stave. When a clef is placed on a stave it assigns a particular note to one of the five lines. This line becomes a reference point by which the names of the other notes on the stave are determined.

Transposing instrument Musical instrument for which notated pitch differs from sounding pitch

A transposing instrument is a musical instrument for which music notation is not written at concert pitch. For example, playing a written middle C on a transposing instrument produces a pitch other than middle C; that sounding pitch identifies the interval of transposition when describing the instrument. Playing a written C on clarinet or soprano saxophone produces a concert B, so these are referred to as B instruments. Providing transposed music for these instruments is a convention of musical notation. The instruments do not transpose the music, rather their music is written at a transposed pitch.

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.

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".

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.

Soprano clarinet

A soprano clarinet is a clarinet that occupies a higher position, both in pitch and in popularity, than subsequent additions to the family such as the basset horn and bass clarinet. The B clarinet is by far the most common type of clarinet and the unmodified word clarinet usually refers to this instrument. However, due to a tendency for writers and historians to imitate the terms used to denote instruments in other instrumental 'family groups' the term soprano is sometimes used to apply not only to the B clarinet but also to the clarinets in A and C, sounding respectively a semitone lower and a whole tone higher than the B instrument, and even the low G clarinet—rare in Western music but popular in the folk music of Turkey—sounding a whole tone lower than the A. While some writers reserve a separate category of sopranino clarinets for the E and D clarinets, those are more usually regarded as soprano clarinets as well. All have a written range from the E below middle C to about the C three octaves above middle C, with the sounding pitches determined by the particular instrument's transposition.

C.G. Conn Ltd., sometimes called Conn Instruments or commonly just Conn, is a former American manufacturer of musical instruments incorporated in 1915. It bought the production facilities owned by Charles Gerard Conn, a major figure in early manufacture of brasswinds and saxophones in the USA. Its early business was based primarily on brass instruments, which were manufactured in Elkhart, Indiana. During the 1950s the bulk of its sales revenue shifted to electric organs. In 1969 the company was sold in bankruptcy to the Crowell-Collier-MacMillan publishing company. Conn was divested of its Elkhart production facilities in 1970, leaving remaining production in satellite facilities and contractor sources.

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.

Sopranissimo saxophone Type of saxophone

The sopranissimo saxophone is the smallest member of the saxophone family. It is pitched in B, one octave above the soprano saxophone. Because of the difficulties in building such a small instrument—the soprillo is 30 cm (12 in) long, 33 cm (13 in) with the mouthpiece—it is only since the mid-2010s that a true sopranissimo saxophone has been able to be produced. The keywork only extends to a written E6, rather than F, F, or sometimes G, like most saxophones, and the upper octave key has to be placed on the mouthpiece.

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.

Ophicleide

The ophicleide is a keyed brass instrument similar to the tuba. It is a conical-bore keyed instrument belonging to the bugle family and has a shape similar to the sudrophone's.

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.

C melody saxophone

The C melody saxophone is a saxophone pitched in the key of C, one whole tone above the B-flat tenor saxophone. In the UK it is sometimes referred to as a "C tenor", and in France as a "tenor en ut". The C melody was part of the series of saxophones pitched in C and F intended by the instrument's inventor, Adolphe Sax, for orchestral use. The instrument enjoyed popularity in the early 1900s, perhaps most prominently used by Rudy Wiedoeft and Frankie Trumbauer, but is now uncommon.

The tenor bassoon or tenoroon is a member of the bassoon family of double reed woodwind instruments. Similarly to the alto bassoon, also called octave bassoon, it is relatively rare.

Leblanc, Inc. was a musical instruments manufacturing company based in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The company was a woodwind instrument manufacturer known mainly for its clarinets. In 2004 the firm was sold to Conn-Selmer, a division of Steinway Musical Instruments. As a result, Leblanc ceased to exist as an independent operation, becoming a brand.

Yanagisawa Wind Instruments Japanese manufacturing company

Yanagisawa Wind Instruments Co., Ltd. is a Japanese woodwind instrument manufacturing company known for its range of professional grade saxophones. Along with Yamaha they are one of the leading manufacturers of saxophones in their country of origin. The company currently manufactures sopranino, soprano, alto, tenor and baritone saxophones.

Clarinet family

The clarinet family is a musical instrument family including the well-known B clarinet, the bass clarinet, the slightly less familiar E and A clarinets and other clarinets.

Selmer Mark VI

The Selmer Mark VI is a saxophone produced from 1954 to 1981. Production shifted to the Mark VII for the tenor and alto in the mid-1970s, and to the Super Action 80 for the soprano and baritone saxophones in 1981. The sopranino saw limited production until about 1985.

References

  1. "June 28, 1846: Parisian Inventor Patents Saxophone". Wired.com. Retrieved 14 February 2011.CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)