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(Single-reed aerophone with keys)
|Developed||28 June 1846|
In B♭: sounds an octave and a full step lower than written. Most modern tenor saxophones can reach a high F♯ (or higher using altissimo fingerings).
Military band family:
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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 tenor saxophone uses a larger mouthpiece, reed and ligature than the alto and soprano saxophones. Visually, it is easily distinguished by the curve in its neck, or its crook, near the mouthpiece. The alto saxophone lacks this and its neck goes straight to the mouthpiece. The tenor saxophone is most recognized for its ability to blend well with the soprano, alto and baritone saxophones, with its "husky" yet "bright" tone.
Tenor sax has been an important solo instrument in jazz music. Famous and influential players include Coleman Hawkins, William Murray, Lester Young, Ben Webster, Dexter Gordon, Wardell Gray, Stan Getz, Sonny Rollins, John Coltrane and Wayne Shorter. The work of younger players such as Michael Brecker and Chris Potter has been an important influence in more recent jazz.
The tenor saxophone is one of a family of fourteen instruments designed and constructed in 1846 by Adolphe Sax, a Belgian-born instrument maker, flautist and clarinetist. Based on an amalgam of ideas drawn from the clarinet, flute, oboe and ophicleide, the saxophone was intended to form a tonal link between the woodwinds and brass instruments found in military bands, an area that Sax considered sorely lacking. Sax's patent, granted on 28 June 1846, divided the family into two groups of seven instruments, each ranging from alto down to contrabass. One family, pitched alternatively in B♭ and E♭, was designed specifically to integrate with the other instruments then common in military bands. The tenor saxophone, pitched in B♭, is the fourth member of this family.
The tenor saxophone, like all saxophones, consists of an approximately conical tube of thin brass, a type of metal. The wider end of the tube is flared slightly to form a bell, while the narrower end is connected to a single reed mouthpiece similar to that of the clarinet. At intervals down the bore are placed between 20 and 23 tone holes; these are covered by pads which can be pressed onto the holes to form an airtight seal. There are also two small speaker holes which, when opened, disrupt the lower harmonics of the instrument and cause it to overblow into an upper register. The pads are controlled by pressing a number of keys with the fingers of the left and right hands; the left thumb controls an octave key which opens one or other of the speaker holes. The original design of tenor saxophone had a separate octave key for each speaker hole, in the manner of the bassoon; the mechanism by which the correct speaker hole is selected based on the fingering of the left hand (specifically the left ring finger) was developed soon after Sax's patent expired in 1866.
Although a handful of novelty tenors have been constructed 'straight', like the smaller members of the saxophone family, the unwieldy length of the straight configuration means that almost all tenor saxophones feature a 'U-bend' above the third-lowest tone hole which is characteristic of the saxophone family. The tenor saxophone is also curved at the top, above the highest tone-hole but below the highest speaker hole. While the alto is usually bent only through 80–90° to make the mouthpiece fit more easily in the mouth, the tenor is usually bent a little more in this section, incorporating a slight S-bend.
The mouthpiece of the tenor saxophone is very similar to that of the clarinet, an approximately wedge-shaped tube, open along one face and covered in use by a thin strip of material prepared from the stem of the giant cane ( Arundo donax ) commonly known as a reed. The reed is shaved to come to an extremely thin point, and is clamped over the mouthpiece by the use of a ligature. When air is blown through the mouthpiece, the reed vibrates and generates the acoustic resonances required to produce a sound from the instrument. The mouthpiece is the area of the saxophone with the greatest flexibility in shape and style, so the timbre of the instrument is primarily determined by the dimensions of its mouthpiece. The design of the mouthpiece and reed play a big role in how a saxophone sounds. Classical mouthpieces generally help produce a warmer and rounder tone, while jazz mouthpieces generally help produce a brighter and edgier tone. Materials used in mouthpiece construction include plastic, ebonite and various metals e.g. bronze, brass and stainless steel.
The mouthpiece of the tenor saxophone is proportionally larger than that of the alto, necessitating a similarly larger reed. The increased stiffness of the reed and the greater airflow required to establish resonance in the larger body means the tenor sax requires greater lung power but a looser embouchure than the higher-pitched members of the saxophone family. The tenor sax reed is similar in size to that used in the bass clarinet, so the two can be easily substituted.
The tenor saxophone first gained popularity in one of its original intended roles: the military band. Soon after its invention, French and Belgian military bands began to take full advantage of the instrument which Sax had designed specifically for them. Modern military bands typically incorporate a quartet of saxophone players playing the E♭ baritone, tenor, E♭ alto and B♭ soprano. British military bands customarily make use only of the tenor and alto saxes, with two or more musicians on each instrument.
The tenor is used in classical music. It is a standard instrument in concert bands and saxophone quartets. It also has a body of solo repertoire. The tenor is sometimes used as a member of the orchestra in pieces such as Sergei Prokofiev's "Romeo and Juliet" and "Lieutenant Kijé Suite" and Maurice Ravel's "Boléro". Charles Ives employs a tenor in his Fourth Symphony. Vincent d'Indy wrote for a tenor in his opera Fervaal . Lukas Foss includes a tenor in his Symphony No. 2. Bela Bartok has a tenor in his ballet The Wooden Prince (and an alto and a baritone sax as well). The Tenor Saxophone Index, an online repertoire database, was launched in July 2012.
Much of the popularity of saxophones in the United States derives from the large number of military bands that were around at the time of the American Civil War. After the war, former military band instruments found their way into the hands of the general public, where they were often used to play gospel music and jazz. The work of the pioneering bandleader Patrick Gilmore (1829–1892) was highly influential; he was one of the first arrangers to pit brass instruments (trumpet, trombone and cornet) against reeds (clarinet and saxophone) in a manner that has now become the norm for big-band arrangements.
The tenor saxophone became best known to the general public through its frequent use in jazz music. It was the pioneering genius of Coleman Hawkins in the 1930s which lifted the tenor saxophone from its traditional role of adding weight to the ensemble and established it as a highly-effective melody instrument in its own right.
Many innovative jazz musicians from the 1930s onwards have been tenor saxophone players. The strong resonant sound of Hawkins and his followers was in contrast with the lighter approach of Lester Young and his school. During the bebop years the most prominent tenor sounds in jazz were those of the Four Brothers in the Woody Herman orchestra, including Stan Getz who in the 1960s went on to great popular success playing the Brazilian bossa nova sound on tenor saxophone (not forgetting John Coltrane, Dexter Gordon and Sonny Rollins). Following the bebop period Cool jazz became increasingly popular with notable artists like William Murray and Jared Glover playing a predominant role in the tenor sax sound. Rock and roll saw such artists as King Curtis. In recent years, the tenor continues to be very popular with fans of smooth jazz music, being played by artists like Kirk Whalum, Richard Elliot, Steve Cole and Jessy J. Saxophonists Ron Holloway and Karl Denson are two of the major proponents of the tenor on the jam band music scene.
As a result of its prominence in American jazz, the instrument has also featured prominently in other genres, and it has been said that many innovations in American music were pioneered by tenor saxophonists. The tenor is common in rhythm and blues music and has a part to play in rock and roll and more recent rock music as well as African American, Latin American, Afro-Caribbean, and African music.
The clarinet is a family of woodwind instruments. It has a single-reed mouthpiece, a straight, cylindrical tube with an almost cylindrical bore, and a flared bell. A person who plays a clarinet is called a clarinetist.
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.
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. Where chords are indicated for improvisation they are also written in the appropriate transposed form.
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.
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.
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.
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 soprillo, sopranino, soprano, alto, tenor, baritone, bass, contrabass saxophone and tubax. Soprano saxophones are the smallest and thus highest-pitched saxophone in common use.
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.
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 xaphoon is a chromatic keyless single-reed woodwind instrument. It has a closed cylindrical bore and a very slightly flared bell. The xaphoon has a full chromatic range of two octaves, and overblows at the twelfth like the clarinet.
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.
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.
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 Buescher Band Instrument Company was a manufacturer of musical instruments in Elkhart, Indiana, from 1894 to 1963. The company was acquired by the H&A Selmer Company in 1963. Selmer retired the Buescher brand in 1983.
The guan is a Chinese double reed wind instrument. The northern Chinese version is called guanzi or bili and the Cantonese version is called houguan. It is classified as a bamboo instrument in the Ba Yin system. Unlike other instruments in the double-reed family of woodwinds which mostly have conical bores, such as the Chinese suona or the Western oboe, the guan has a cylindrical bore, giving its distinctive mellow, yet piercing buzz-like timbre.
The mouthpiece of a woodwind instrument is that part of the instrument which is placed partly in the player's mouth. Single-reed instruments, capped double-reed instruments, and fipple flutes have mouthpieces while exposed double-reed instruments and open flutes do not. The characteristics of a mouthpiece and reed can play a significant role on the sound of the instrument.
The western concert flute family has a wide range of instruments.
Saxophone technique refers to the physical means of playing the saxophone. It includes how to hold the instrument, how the embouchure is formed and the airstream produced, tone production, hands and fingering positions, and a number of other aspects. Instrumental technique and corresponding pedagogy is a topic of much interest to musicians and teachers and therefore has been subjected to personal opinions and differences in approach. Over the course of the saxophone’s performance history, notable saxophonists have contributed much to the literature on saxophone technique.