Showing posts with label Saxophone. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Saxophone. Show all posts

Sunday, April 26, 2020

The SAXOPHONE's Place In Modern Music

Adolphe Sax (1814-1894), inventor of the saxophone
Adolphe Sax (1814-1894), inventor of the saxophone
(Photo credit: 

Saxophones are most commonly renowned for their use by jazz and pop musicians, although they are closely linked with instruments that include trumpets and trombones. This wind instrument will probably be generally employed in classical music but is just not commonly an instrument that stands out in such musical productions.

While classical and pop music is completely different music styles, composers like John Adams have been known to straddle the line that separates the two. He and others do so by making use of the saxophone as a classical instrument in his version of a Saxophone Concerto. Other's have been written prior to his composition, but Adam's is one of the less obscure versions.

John Adams selected solo musician Timothy McAllister to be the leader of the first functionality of his concerto in the states, together with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. Adams had taken advantage of McAllister's virtuosic saxophone methods formerly for his compose, City Noir, and was eager to produce anything with a more complicated saxophone portion to showcase McAllister's skills. Clocking in at about 30 minutes, the Saxophone Concerto is definitely a showcase of difficult segments and complex polyrhythmic elements all centred on the broad range of articulation achievable with a saxophone.

Reported by McAllister, the piece is probably among the most complicated he has ever played. However, Adams has faith in McAllister's potential to achieve the relentless streams of speedy segments that cover the complete tonal spectrum of the saxophone. The North American release of the Saxophone Concerto by John Adams was held on September 20, 2013. You can find plans for it to become recorded within a studio very soon.

History of the Saxophone
Adolphe Sax unveiled the very first known saxophone in 1846. Although Sax designed the instrument with the purpose of filling the gap between brass and woodwind instruments, he pitched the saxophone based upon the instrument's sound as opposed to the traditional tunings used in classical music. He had initially created two versions of the saxophone. The very first becoming C and F pitched models which he intended to become employed in classical music. The 2nd being Bb and Eb models which have been intended for the military band usage.

In spite of his intentions, the C and F versions of the saxophone have never actually been made use of for musical arrangements, although the Bb and Eb are generally put to use within a number of compositions. Adolphe Sax constructed the saxophone with the goal of incorporating the projection and tone of the brass instrument and the playing method of woodwinds. The popularity of this instrument in solo jazz acts and pop music was largely due to its wide articulation range that offers expressive sound and an agile style of play.

Monday, December 31, 2018


Portrait of Lester Young, Famous Door, New Yor...
Portrait of Lester Young, Famous Door, New York, N.Y. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Middle Man
Although throughout the history of jazz there has been a large number of incredibly talented saxophone players, it is a well-accepted fact among jazz scholars that three of the most important to the evolution of jazz saxophone were Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young and Charlie Parker, in that order.

Lester Young bridged the gap between the early jazz improvisations of Coleman Hawkins and Charlie Parker and the bebop revolution.  Coleman Hawkins was considered the King of the tenor saxophone players during the early Swing era with his big tone and mastery of chordal improvisation.  Lester Young arrived on the jazz scene with a totally new approach.

Mr. Cool
Lester Young rose to prominence out of Kansas City, during its musical boom years, while playing in the Count Basie big band.  His tone was very relaxed and soft sounding, and he played in a very lyrical fashion with phrasing that was unorthodox at the time.  His approach to improvisation was linear - he would play across the bar lines melodically instead of playing up and down the chords like Hawkins tended to do.

Lester Young became known as Pres which was a nickname given to him by jazz singer Billie Holiday. According to Holiday, "I always felt he was the greatest, so his name had to be the greatest.  The greatest man around then was Franklin D. Roosevelt, and he was the President.  So I started calling Lester the President.  It got shortened to Prez."

Post-War Blues
Much has been written about the level of Young's playing after his unwilling one year stint in the U.S. Army.  He had a tough time with the white authority figures and was then court-martialed for possession of marijuana.  He was dishonorably discharged after spending one year in the brink.

Because this was such a disillusioning experience for Prez he became more withdrawn and sullen after his military service, and many critics believe this had a negative impact on his playing.

However, one exemplary recording from 1946 shows him in fine form.  He recorded The Lester Young Trio with Nat King Cole on piano and Buddy Rich on drums.  A 1950 Downbeat magazine review of four of the cuts says, "Four magnificent sides...with Lester most often at his fluent best."

The Pres Leaves Office
Lester Young continued to perform and record throughout the 1950s with guest appearances with the Count Basie Band and at the Newport Jazz Festival.  His increasing dependence on alcohol led to declining health and to his death in 1959.  50 plus years later he is still considered to be one of the giants of the jazz tenor saxophone.

    By Joel Krett
    Joel Krett currently plays tenor saxophone and harmonica with The Subway Show Band out of Morgantown, WV. and is an avid jazz fan.

    Article Source: EzineArticles

Wednesday, December 12, 2018


English: Dexter Gordon in Amsterdam (2). 1980....
Dexter Gordon in Amsterdam  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
A Big Man With a Big Sound
There have been many great tenor saxophone players throughout the history of jazz, but one of my favorites is Dexter Gordon.  Perhaps what I like best about Dexter Gordon is his big, beautiful sound.  He stood 6' 6'' tall, and he had a saxophone tone to match his stature with a warmth and body to it that was unmistakably his own.

Under A Doctor's Care
Gordon was born in L.A. In 1923.  His father's name was Frank Gordon, and he had the distinction of being one of the first African American doctors practicing medicine in Los Angeles.  As luck would have it two of his patients were jazz greats Duke Ellington and Lionel Hampton.  Dexter began playing clarinet when he turned 13.  He soon switched to saxophone, and by his senior year in high school, this amazing talent was offered a job in the Lionel Hampton big band.  Never hurts to have an in.

Paris Without Regret
After the Hampton band Dexter did stints with Louis Armstrong, Fletcher Henderson and Billy Eckstine.  In 1960 Gordon started to record for the famous jazz label, Blue Note Records.  During this period he recorded many acclaimed jazz albums including one of his favorites, GO.
In 1962 Dexter moved to Europe to work and live and resided mainly in Paris.  Many notable jazz musicians of this era did the same because they were appreciated and respected more by the Europeans and experienced much less discrimination.  He remained in Europe for the next 15 years until returning to the U.S. In 1976.

Round About Midnight
Upon his return to the States Dexter made a much-heralded appearance at the Village Vanguard in New York City and finally achieved the recognition as one of the great jazz tenor players that he had deserved for years.

In 1986 Gordon was nominated for an Academy Award for his starring role in the jazz film, Round Midnight.  The role was tailor-made for Dexter as the movie was about an expatriate jazz musician living in Europe.

Musician of the Year
After coming back to the U.S. Dexter signed a deal with Columbia Records who promoted him heavily along with other jazz artists.  His newfound notoriety and his high level of jazz saxophone playing led to his being named Downbeat Magazine's Musician of the Year in 1978 and  1980.
Dexter Gordon died in 1990 at the age of 67 from kidney failure after a lifetime of producing some of jazz's greatest tenor saxophone music.

    By Joel Krett
    Joel Krett is currently playing tenor saxophone and harmonica with The Subway Show Band out of Morgantown. WV. and is an avid jazz fan.

    Article Source: EzineArticles

Thursday, November 22, 2018

SAXOPHONE MOUTHPIECE Guide - For a Better Way to Play Saxophone

Two mouthpieces for tenor saxophone: the one o...
Two mouthpieces for tenor saxophone: the one on the left is rubber; the one on the right is metal.
(Photo credit: 
The saxophone is an instrument that is well appreciated in a variety of musical genres including jazz, rock, and pop. For saxophone players, add-ons like saxophone mouthpieces are essential if they want to be able to play better and produce a better sound. This saxophone mouthpiece guide can help you choose the best one for your type of sound.

The saxophone mouthpiece is attached to the instrument and is useful in shaping and producing the sound coming from the instrument. The saxophone player blows into the mouthpiece to create vibrations that can produce the sound. It is also helpful in holding the reed in its proper place so it won't flutter while creating a chamber to allow for sound modification which, in turn, makes it possible to create the right tone.

What's it made of?
In a saxophone mouthpiece guide, you will see that this component can be classified according to the tone and pitch that it can produce: baritone, soprano, tenor, and alto. Higher notes and pitches are basically produced by sopranos while lower and graver tones are produced with baritones. You can also classify saxophone mouthpieces according to the material from which it is made of:

Hard rubber: Molded with heat, it is known as the best type of mouthpiece since it dampens lighter sounds with its dense properties. This mouthpiece is ideal for classical music.

Plastic: Although inexpensive, it can warp with over-usage, giving way to tone imbalance and squeaks. It also contracts and expands according to temperature, giving way to intonation problems.

Metal: Less dense than rubber, it enhances higher tones so it is ideal for playing solo jazz tunes. It is also more durable but requires high maintenance.

Check the quality and the tip opening

Ending this saxophone mouthpiece guide are buying tips you can use to check the quality. Make sure it is easy to blow while being able to produce a good sound. Check the tip opening, too. Beginners are better off with narrow tips for a clearer tone and easy response while professionals with a good control of the saxophone can use wider tips for greater projection and volume.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018


Antique Saxophones - Photo: Flickr
A saxophone is a musical instrument belonging to the woodwind category. It is one of the youngest musical instruments, invented by Adolphe Sax, a Belgian, in the 1840s. Later, many people made their own alterations to the instrument. Saxophones were generally used in the military and in big orchestras but are now found in smaller bands as well. They are generally used for big band music, pop music and jazz. There are many kinds of saxophones but the four most common ones are: Soprano, Alto, Tenor and Baritone Saxophones.

Vintage saxophones may not be in great playing condition but are generally bought for collection purposes. Some suppliers also sell vintage saxophones that are repaired and in good condition. They can also be custom-restored to suit individual requirements. Some manufacturers offer one-year guarantees on restored saxophones.

Otherwise, vintage saxophones are sold in "as is" condition to retain their original and antique value. Vintage saxophones can have frills like hand engravings on them. They are also generally gold- or silver-plated instead of being lacquered like the new saxophones.

Here is a sampling of the vintage saxophones available at one dealer: King - super 20 and Zephyr; Selmer - Mark VII, Mark VI, super balanced action, balanced action, super, radio improved, and cigar cutter; Buescher - true tone, aristocrat, and 400 top hat and cane; Conn - Chu Berry, conqueror (26 and 30M), and lady face (4M, 6M, 10M, and 12M); Martin - handcraft, Magna and committee.

Vintage saxophones can be found at local music stores or in antique shops. They can also be found by browsing some special sites on the Internet, which provides hundreds of choices in vintage saxophones. However, some Internet dealers sell fake vintage saxophones. Some suppliers of vintage saxophones offer certificates of guarantee or even warranties.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

The Role of the SAXOPHONE Section in a Big Band

The saxophone section. 12th, October, 2008
Photo  by satchelmouth1 
The saxophone section in a big band consists of 5 players - two altos, two tenors and one baritone sax. In a traditional big band setup, the saxes are located in the first (front) row of three rows of horn players. The trombones and trumpets are found in the rows directly behind the saxes.

Saxophones are considered agile instruments, much like the clarinet and flute. They are able to play fast lines or perform effects that cannot be achieved so easily on a brass instrument. This characteristic gives them the ability to cover very fast passages within the ensemble - passages that would be too difficult for the brass section to pull off.

Melodic Roles
Saxophones are often called on to state the melody of a big band composition or arrangement. Playing in unison gives them the power to cut through punches and harmony played by the brass section. When stating the melody as a section (i.e. 4-5 part voicings) the lead alto player must project the lead line so it can be heard above other instrumental activity going on within the arrangement at any given time.

Saxes can also be coupled with other instruments to create a homogeneous sound. Altos are often combined with trumpet, while tenor saxes are most often found sharing a melody with one or more trombones. These melodic couplings work well because the timbre of trumpet and trombone are similar to the alto and tenor respectively. Baritone sax at times plays melody alone or coupled with a bass trombone.

Harmonic Roles
Because the sax section covers a wide range, it lends itself well to supplying harmony and harmonic "pads" to a big band arrangement or composition. In ballads, for example, the saxes are often written as lush voicings that provide all the necessary notes of a chord. They are used in this manner within an arrangement as background to a soloist, or as a counter melody to another instrument.

Solos and Solis
The tenor saxophone is one of the more popular solo instruments in jazz, so it only makes sense that tenor solos are written quite regularly throughout the big band music repertoire. Although any of the saxes are called upon at one time or another for solos, the tenor seems to get more improvised solos than the others. Baritone sax solos are written sparingly throughout big band literature. Depending on the level of skill of the players, solo sections can be passed around so that good soloists - even bari sax players - have a chance to shine.

Sax solos occur when the saxophone section is featured by itself by playing a composed jazz "solo". A soli is most often composed in four or five part harmony that is voiced for the entire section. The lead line is played by Alto 1, while the rest of the section is voiced below the lead line and follows in rhythmic unison. In a four-part setting, the bari sax player will often double the alto melody at the octave.

The saxophone section is an integral part of any big band in a variety of ways. Brass players may complain that the saxophones are written too many solos, but it is hard to beat a terrific saxophone section ripping through a difficult Thad Jones or Don Menza soli. As they say, if you can't beat them, join them!

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Sound Dependency on SAXOPHONE Mouthpiece Kit

Two mouthpieces for tenor saxophone: the one o...
Two mouthpieces for tenor saxophone: the one on the left is rubber; the one on the right is metal. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The most important question to be answered is: What kind of music we wish to play? The answer could be: Classical, Jazz, Pop or All and based on your answer the horn mouthpiece should be selected. It will have an effect on the type of sound your saxophone makes. There are a few things to be considered when buying a mouthpiece. Some of these include material, opening, and tone chamber. These notes will try to give a few tips for choosing a saxophone mouthpiece.

A professionally selected mouthpiece will improve sound more than any other part of the saxophone. For general playing - classical mouthpiece is good enough. They are plastic but look like made from hard rubber. There are three excellent mouthpieces which are reasonably priced: Rousseau 4R is about $70, Selmer S80 C* is about $100 and the new Rousseau plays like an S80 with a little different sound. All three of them could be recommended for all of the saxophones. Jazz mouthpieces are a little more complicated. If you play Alto sax, most people will go for a hard rubber mouthpiece as opposed to the metal, which tends to be a little bright for the Alto Sax. If you are going to play a lot of rock music,  you may want that bright sound. The favorite mouthpiece for the Alto Saxophones for general jazz playing is the Meyer 6M. This is a classic that has been around for a long time.

It would be smart to start here before anything else for Alto saxophone. Tenor and Baritone sax is generally preferred to a metal mouthpiece. For Tenor Horn musicians really like the Otto Link 7 or 6. These mouthpieces have a good sound and are pretty popular all around. Before paying the big bucks for a mouthpiece, you should always try it out first. If you bought 10 of the same exact brand and tried them all, you'd find that they all play differently. Always try out first and pick the one that works best for you. Later on, you may want to buy a handmade mouthpiece and enjoy the wonderful sound that comes from that. 

Be prepared to pay the big bucks for one of these! You will definitely need a different size of Reed for jazz mouthpiece. Then use a classical one. Most people use a little shorter size of the jazz mouthpiece. Also, if the mouthpiece feels funny on the teeth, a musician can buy a patch to put on the mouthpiece. This will feel more comfortable on the front teeth and protect the mouthpiece for a longer time. If a person just begins to learn to play the saxophone, he really should stick with the classical piece. After he advanced, he will probably want the jazz piece for all other styles. 

If you are not interested in popular styles of music, you won't need the jazz piece. There is a  great difference between the two types, and if you plan on playing all styles, you will definitely need both types of mouthpieces.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Types of SAXOPHONES - Which SAXOPHONE is Right For Me

English: Size comparison of B-flat curved sopr...
Size comparison of B-flat curved soprano, E-flat alto, and B-flat tenor saxophones.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
If one is looking at purchasing a used saxophone, two presumptions or considerations may arise: first, that the person purchasing must get the item which will give him the best value for his money; second, that the person is using it for playing music. The importance of the second point is that saxophone, as a musical instrument, comes in different kinds. The difference lies in the music and pitch being produced by each type of instrument, sizes, and shapes, as well as considerations which are related to the skill level of the player of the instrument.

Therefore, to be able to make the best decision as to which saxophone best suits any player of the instrument, it is important that one has a working knowledge of the different types of saxophones as well as the corresponding differences that distinguish one from the other. In doing this, one can effectively discriminate and choose the saxophone that best suits him.

There are generally four types of saxophones available in the market today. The first type is called the soprano saxophone. The soprano saxophone is tuned in the key of B flat (or Bb). It has the highest tune or pitch among all the other types of saxophones. Consequently, playing the instrument requires some skill because the pitch, being high, is more difficult to manipulate and manage. Therefore, most of the players of this type of saxophone are already adept at playing the instrument and are what can properly be considered as professional saxophonists.

The second type is the Alto Saxophone which plays at the key of E flat (or Eb). The position of this type of saxophone's bell allows its player to hear more of the sound produced by the instrument than by the other saxophones played. Most pieces composed for practice are also tuned in the key of Alto Saxophone. Consequently, it is considered as most befitting beginners and anyone whose skill level in saxophone is elementary.

The third type would be the tenor saxophone. It is larger than the alto saxophone and the sound it produces is closer in range to the human voice. This is also the best type of instrument for playing jazz and some rock.

The fourth type of saxophone is the baritone saxophone. It has the lowest range among the other types of saxophone and is usually used in the bass section in soul music or tunes. It is also the biggest and heaviest among all the other types of saxophone.

All of these types of saxophones are best in their own respect. One just needs to identify precisely the use of the saxophone to be played or purchased. So if one is a beginner, it is strongly suggested that he starts playing the alto saxophone first. It also depends upon the sound that the player is most interested in. If one prefers to play jazz tunes, then the tenor saxophone is recommended. But if one is more into bass range sound, richer and deeper tone then the baritone is the best choice.

One may also take into account the size and the weight of the saxophone which will affect its manageability and overall comfort in playing the instrument. There are, of course, no hard fast rules applicable in determining the best type of saxophone. The person has to weigh in different factors in the process of trying to get the saxophone which is just right for him.

Sunday, May 6, 2018


oboe performance
Oboe Player - Photo by liberalmind1012 
Before your child starts playing a kind of musical instrument, particularly a wind instrument such as a clarinet or saxophone, a New York orthodontist strongly recommends that you check first with your dentist. The dentist said that faulty alignment of teeth and gum difficulties are among the dental problems that certain individuals have because of the instruments that they play. He said in a report published in a recent issue of the Journal of the American Dental Association that millions of American children are playing some kind of instruments they selected themselves or are studying music in schools using instruments that may have been assigned to them on a haphazard basis.

There are just certain instruments that are not suited for children dentally or temperamentally, and this would be later on discovered by the children. Many would be a musician is handicapped from the start and will never be any more than mediocre in his field. Dentists who want to provide good service for their patients must remember to tell would be musicians, music teachers, and parents that some dental problems are caused by the playing of wind instruments.

Before the parents invest time, effort, and money to this musical pursuit, a dental consultation should be done first. There are a lot of dentists who claim that single reed instruments are usually to blame for cases of body tissue illnesses experienced by wind instrumentalists. The lower lip is supported by the teeth, and unfortunately, it is also here that a lot of weight from the instrument is applied. Applying pressure on the teeth reduces the blood circulation in the affected bone area.

The upper teeth may also be misaligned due to the pressure exerted by the lower jaw onto the upper teeth. Compression of the lips against the upper and lower teeth is the result of playing brass instruments like a trumpet. Tooth mobility may come as a result of playing these instruments for extended periods of time. A short upper lip prevents a person from playing the flute well and comfortably, while irregular teeth cause a person's lips to hurt while he is playing the oboe or bassoon.

Dental problems may arise because of string instruments also. Certain studies indicate that faulty bite is a common problem of violinists since a lot of pressure is put on their jaw when they play. These dental problems can be prevented if an oral examination is given to would be musicians. Proper early recommendations can ensure dental suitability and oral health so that a would-be musician is not needlessly handicapped in playing his or her favorite musical instruments, he said.

Getting check-ups before anything else is definitely a great way to make sure you don't get complications in the latter stages of life. Seeing your dentist beforehand is especially true when it comes to playing wind instruments. Seeing a dentist is never a bad thing.


Tuesday, February 27, 2018


Yes, that's the great Lenny Pickett next to Chester Thompson for "Squib Cakes"!
Photo  by Ethan Prater 
Lenny Pickett is best known as the tenor saxophonist of the Saturday Night Live Band, he is one of the virtuosos of altissimo saxophone. The altissimo register is a technique that almost seems like a requirement for saxophonists today. It's based on harmonics and enables you to achieve notes above the normal range of the saxophone.

For example, it is possible to finger a low Bb (the lowest note on the instrument) and by changing the embouchure and air stream to blow the full overtone series of the low Bb (middle Bb, middle F, high Bb, high D, high F, and so on.) This technique can be heard clearly in the well-known opening theme to Saturday Night Live.

Lenny passes says this about his equipment, in response to numerous inquiries:  "I play a Selmer Paris Mark VI tenor (circa 1970) with a Berg Larsen 130 over 0 (SMS) mouthpiece and a number 3 Vandoren (blue box) bass clarinet reed."

Pickett, born in New Mexico in 1954, is competent not only with saxophone but also on flute and clarinet. After dropping out of high school in Berkeley, he spent a brief period studying under Bert Wilson, but amazingly, other than that instruction is entirely self-taught on the saxophone. Not viewed as a traditional jazz player, he is best showcased in short bursts of color bringing the life of his horn to center stage in R&B and rock arrangements. He is well known for his funky style, and his ability to make the sax "scream."

Pickett played with the Tower of Power horns from 1972 to 1981 and toured the world with them. Tower of Power still tours extensively today, though without Pickett. They released multiple Top 100 albums over the course of Pickett's career with them. Tower of Power played in many styles, from soul to funk to disco, and Pickett's virtuoso playing felt at home in all of them.

Tower of Power's horns section has performed with a variety of other artists including Santana, Heart, Poison, Phish, and more. He has since performed live and recorded with Rod Stewart, Elton John, Little Feat, Peter Gordon's Love of Life Orchestra, Doc Kupka's Strokeland Superband, and many rock and jazz albums and film and television soundtracks. Pickett's management's bio describes his music as "polyphonic extravaganzas which manage to touch base with R&B, funk, swing, Latin influence, and the avant-garde; horn lines twist around one another, shifting and building in intensity."

He has worked as a saxophonist and arranger for David Bowie, the Talking heads, and Laurie Anderson. As a composer, he has been commissioned to write works mixing classical and popular ideas for a variety of ensembles including the New Century Saxophone Quartet. Due to his strange and wild self-taught style, his techniques are endlessly discussed on Internet forums, where players speculate on his fingering, whether or not he's using double or triple tonguing, often asking each other "What is Pickett doing?!??!"

He is currently a professor of jazz saxophone at New York University.

    Author: Neal Battaglia 
     Are you into sax improvisation? Learn more about Saxophone Improv at Sax Station! 

Friday, February 23, 2018

Learning to Play SAXOPHONE - About the Instrument

Bell Of A Selmer Mark Vi Alto Saxophone Within...
Bell Of A Selmer Mark Vi Alto Saxophone  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Saxophone, one of the best instruments to learn (in my opinion)! You will soon come to find that playing the saxophone is not only fun, but it also teaches discipline and the sense of achievement are priceless.

Note about Equipment
Some sax players spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about equipment...
Tiger Woods would still beat you at golf if he used crappy clubs.
But maybe not if he used a baseball bat and a volleyball.

So have to make sure your saxophone, mouthpiece, reeds, etc are functioning. But DO NOT spend more time worrying about your equipment than actually playing & practicing.

The saxophone itself has a body and a neck. The mouthpiece goes around the neck and has a reed held on by a ligature. The mouthpiece, reeds, and ligature matter sometimes more than the horn itself.

Saxophone Reeds
The reed makes the sound in your saxophone through its vibration.
Saxophone reeds are made of a special cane that grows in only a few parts of the world. It is expensive and wears out in a few weeks. There are synthetic alternatives, but they don't sound as good.
Start with a softer reed (lower number). And you'll also want a softer reed if you have a mouthpiece that is more open. Beginners can start with number 2 and experiment from there.

Saxophone Mouthpiece
The basic idea of mouthpiece position on a sax is that pushing the mouthpiece farther down on the cork will make your intonation higher while pulling it out will make your intonation lower.
To quote Jimmy Haag, "You are basically playing a long tube when you play a saxophone. A saxophone is all about the speed of the air like any wind instrument. The length of the tube determines its harmonics. Since EVERYONE has a different throat, mouth, teeth, and tongue, it is a truly individual journey to find out what works for you. I meet a lot of people who are looking for a standard but in fact, there is only one way that will work for you."

So it's not as simple as pushing the mouthpiece on farther or pulling it out more.
The temperature and the environment affect intonation too- if it's hot outside the air will move faster and the sax will be sharper if its cold- it will tend to be flat.

And a saxophone in tune on one note will not necessarily be in tune on another note, if not adjustments are made by the player. With practice, you'll develop control and these things will happen subconsciously.

The ligature holds the reed on the saxophone mouthpiece. It makes some differences. But you probably don't need to spend ridiculous amounts of money on a diamond-encrusted ligature.

There are four 'big' brands of saxophone:
Selmer, Keilwerth, Yamaha, and Yanagisawa.
They all make professional horns.
The Selmer Mark VI is the most famous type of saxophone, they stopped making them so the Mark VI's can be very pricey these days. But many professionals swear by them. Not every Mark VI is still in great condition though.

There are some other brands that make decent horns. Be careful if they are imported and have soft metal. And try them out before you buy them.

Saxophones have features such as rolled tone holes and a high F# key. In general, many of the advancements in instrument making have been adopted by most saxophone companies.

Types of Saxophone
When you're starting off, play an alto or tenor. Alto's a bit smaller and easier for a child to carry.
Soprano is smaller than alto, but its tone is harder to control.
And baritone is larger than tenor.
The tenor saxophone is what most famous saxophone players favor although some preferred alto and there are a handful of saxophone players who mostly play soprano or bari.

Remember that you need to play music on your saxophone, not just have nice equipment.
A bad driver in a Ferrari is not impressive.
Sometimes problems you have with playing are actually because of the instrument, reed, etc. But more times they are not.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Tuning, Intonation, And The SAXOPHONE

sax gal in the house
Photo  by woodleywonderworks 
Playing your saxophone in tune with others in your band requires much more than simply playing a reference note into a tuner and adjusting the mouthpiece on the instrument. In order to really understand the tuning process and how best to tune your saxophone, it helps to know the physics behind the sound that you produce while playing. When we are talking about physics and the saxophone we are dealing in the realm of invisible vibrations called sound waves.

To better understand these sound waves it helps to think about a guitar string. When you pluck a note on a guitar the string vibrates at a specific rate or "frequency." The length of this string dictates what frequency the string will vibrate at. By moving your finger up and down the fretboard you can change the pitch to any of a dozen or so pitches. Now think about a fretless guitar. Instead of a dozen pitches, you could potentially have hundreds of pitches, each very slightly different than the other. Saxophones behave in this same way but use a vibrating column of air instead of a vibrating string.

When you add or subtract fingers on the saxophone you are changing the overall length of the tube, creating shorter or longer sound waves in the process. Many things can affect this resultant wave. A key that is not adjusted properly can partially close over an open hole causing all notes above that key to be slightly flat. Likewise, a key that is left open when it should be closed can make other notes out of tune or at the very least sound less focused.

Two saxophones that are not perfectly tuned to each other will always vibrate at different frequencies even when playing the same note. When two sound waves of the exact same frequency are played together they reinforce each other creating a stronger, more pleasing overall sound. When two pitches are slightly out of tune they occasionally collide with each other causing a disturbance in the combined waveform. This phenomenon creates audible "beats" or bumps in what the listener hears. Each bump in the combined sound is literally the two sound waves slamming into each other. It is often easier to understand this process by seeing it visually. Take a look at the examples shown at

As a saxophone player, it should be your goal to learn how to play your instrument in perfect tune. Unfortunately, this requires more than simply tuning your concert A or B-flat. Now that you know a little about the physics of sound, however, you can begin to understand the inherent pitch problems of your saxophone and relate this to your overall performance and study routine.

Friday, October 6, 2017

What You Should Know About Buying A Sax And A MOUTHPIECE

Hammer365: 072/293 A Distant Past
Photo  by David Reber’s Hammer Photography 
Playing music would definitely give you a lot of things to enjoy. It would let you express yourself. It would be a means of also releasing the stress and tension that you feel. When you play music, creativity would also flow. That is why it would be worthwhile to learn how to play an instrument. If you are a fan of jazz and blues, it would be actually great if you learn how to play the sax. This instrument can be found from various sources. It is also crucial that you choose the right denis wick mouthpieces for your instrument. Learn then more about these things and how you can choose one.

It is very important that you know how to choose the right sax. You can choose to either buy something new or something secondhand or vintage. It would be good to buy something new especially if you are still starting and do not have much idea about vintage pieces just yet. However, if you want to make savings, you can choose to buy secondhand ones.

One can also choose to have good vintage saxophones if they want. This is more of a choice for those who are already familiar with the instrument and adept in its quality and playing. It would be a great choice as you may actually save money. You can also choose this if you want to play saxophone that is rare and has greatly appreciated value over time.

The first step that you would need to do before the actual buying would be to do research. Get to know about each piece and model in advance. The materials which make the instrument and the specifications of each model will be real of importance.

Before you buy, you need to ascertain the conditions of the instrument. If this is a secondhand piece, buy only those in mint conditions or those needing only very minor repairs. It is not wise to spend more on the repairs than the actual piece.

Listening to the instrument is also important. You would have to listen to how it sounds. This will be the best way of checking the quality.
Use the right denis wick mouthpieces as well. You should check the baffles, sidewalls, chambers, and rails. Check also the quality and form of the reed and facing table.

Always have these things in mind. They would be of great help to you. You can then find the best sax and mouthpiece that would suit your needs.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

SAXOPHONES, Jazz Musicians, and the Influence of Inner Personal Conflicts

Saxophones, in comparison to many other instruments, do not have a very long history. The first one was designed around 1840 by a Belgian named Adolphe Sax in an attempt to improve the sound of the clarinet. Adolphe planned the saxophones as a family of instruments ranging in size from the sopranino, soprano, alto, tenor, baritone, bass, contrabass, and sub-contrabass. Saxophones were first introduced into a musical score in 1844 by Jean-George Kastner. Saxophones were initially used in symphonies, military bands, and chamber music, then in big bands, and in the 1920's saxophones were incorporated into jazz music.

Saxophone Music - Photo  by 
Jazz music began it's infiltration into American music in March 1917. The principal instruments used included the trumpet, cornet, slide trombone, valve trombone, French horn, baritone, clarinet, family of saxophones, percussion, string bass, and piano. When members of the Original Dixieland Jazz Band were recording their music in a New York studio, they were instructed to play faster in order to fit the whole song on a record. This exciting, lively, assertive, rowdy, and bold music is what caught the attention of everyone's listening ears. It was a time when America was hard at work and needed an outlet, a way to play. They grasped this new style with full force and made jazz a favorite pastime.

Although this seemed like new music, it was not totally new in the truest sense of the word. It involves taking apart an already established song and then putting it back together in a novel way. Jazz also involves, to a large extent, the component of improvisation in order to interpret the melody or harmony in a fresh way. Playing jazz involves elements of spontaneity, spirit, creativity, and rhythmic drive. As stated by Gary Giddins, "It's the ultimate in rugged individualism. It's going out there on that stage and saying: It doesn't matter how anybody else did it. This is the way I'm going to do it." Jazz allows the expression of a full range of emotions with whichever instrument the musician is using.

Clearly, one of the most expressive instruments in this type of music are saxophones with their ability to squeal, laugh, shriek, and whisper. Saxophones are able to release the inner voice, the feelings, the inner personality of the musician playing them. Not only is jazz music an outlet for those listening to it, but also for the musicians playing the music with their saxophones. Certainly what wasn't able to be said in words was often verbalized musically whether through a soulful lament or a happy energetic, playful sound, especially with the tenor, alto, or soprano saxophones.

This means of expression is portrayed in the music of not only the early innovators of swing, but also in bebop, hard bop, jazz, free jazz, and electric jazz/rock/funk. Some of the best and most renowned music came from those musicians with the most difficult inner personal conflicts. It seems though that those with the most troubled lives had the most inner drive to make their music as brilliant as possible.

    This author is a saxophonist, novice pianist, and novice guitarist. In addition, she is an occupational therapist who works with a host of disabilities utilizing sensory integration and neurodevelopmental therapy in combination with music and a variety of other techniques to assist these persons in achieving the highest level of function and quality of life possible.
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