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History of the tenor saxophone *PART 2.0*

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Hello ladies and gentleman,

and sorry for this late post, I’ve been in holiday and one back in Brussels I got called for some concerts of the last minute and I had to study the scores, hope you understand!!

Hope you are ready with the second chapter: HISTORY OF THE TENOR SAXOPHONE *PART 2.0* Technical functions and Saxophone part.


Rounded and smooth sound, easy phrasing, wide possibilities to change the timbre are just some of the major characteristics and qualities of this great invention of Adolphe Sax, which can be explained by its operation and by all the parts that compose it.

All the saxophones are composed of:

  • Mouth-piece: usually made of metal or ebonite, this part is where is situated the reed;
  • Ligature: serves to hold the reed to the mouth-piece and can be made of metal, plastic, wood or even fabric;
  • Neck: this part is removable (except for some saxophones: soprano and sopranino), it’s usually has the shape of an “L” and may, as in the case of the baritone saxophone, present various curves. The neck connects to the mouth-piece to the body;
  • Body: has several holes that can be open or closed by pressing the relative keys to produce different notes;
  • Bell: the terminal part of the saxophone from where comes out part of the air emitted by the musician;
  • Keys: are present throughout the whole instrument and to each of them correspond a note.

Theoretical and technical aspects:

The saxophone is a conical tube with holes, at the end is applied a mouth-piece with a reed through which the air pressure, caused by the musician, begins to vibrate and emits an acoustic wave that propagates in the air with a series of regular oscillations. It ‘s based on two registers, low and high, which correspond to the first two harmonics of the root tone, that is why it is called a transposing instrument;

The tenor saxophone, like all other saxophone, is a transposing instrument, this means that the note written on a score does not correspond with the actual perceived sound. The Tenor Saxophone, for example, is an Bb instrument which means that the note “DO” read out of a score is equivalent to a real “Bb” on a piano, this is applied to the entire family of saxophones;

The sax is classified as a “Melodic” instrument and not as an Harmonic one because is able to play one note at time, unlike the piano, the guitar or other instruments that are both melodic and harmonic so they can play one note at a time or more notes at the same time.

In the twentieth century, with the evolution of technology and the musical experimentation, the factory Akai produce in the 80s an electronic saxophone called EWI, which stands for “Electronic Wind Instrument”, which works with the MIDI system. This instrument was widely used by saxophonists of the period, and especially from the famous Michael Brecker.

Well I hope you enjoyed this post and see you soon with the next: History of the saxophone *PART 3.0* Why it sounds so good in jazz?

Older post:

History of the tenor saxophone *PART 1.0*

History of the tenor saxophone *PART 0.9*

History of the tenor saxophone *PART 0.0*