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National Saxophone Day

The saxophone is celebrated today, on the anniversary of the birth of its creator, Adolphe Sax. Sax was born in Belgium in 1814. He was an instrument maker who played clarinet and flute, and moved to Paris in 1842 to start a musical instrument business. Sax had worked on improving the bass clarinet, and had also made ophicleides. His work with these instruments gave him the skills to begin developing the saxophone. He wanted to create an instrument that had both the projection power of a brass instrument, and the agility of a woodwind, and that would fill the middle ground between the two instrument types. What he came up with had a single-reed mouthpiece similar to a clarinet, and a brass body similar to the ophicleide. In June 1846 Sax received a 15-year patent, which covered 14 types of saxophones. In one group there were saxophones in the keys of B♭ and E♭, and in the other group they were in the keys of C and F. They ranged in size from the large contrabass on the low end of the register, to the small sopranino on the high end of the register. The saxophones in the keys of B♭ and E♭ quickly became the standard type of saxophones. Since being invented, various keys and fingerings have been added to the instrument. Today saxophones range in size and pitch as follows: subcontrabass, contrabass, bass, baritone, tenor, alto, soprano, sopranino, and sopranissimo. Of all of these the most popular are the soprano, alto, tenor, and baritone.

The saxophone has been used or is used in various types of music. Originally the B♭ and E♭ saxophones were designed for military bands, while the C and F saxophones were designed to be used in orchestras. But, as the C and F saxophones never gained any prominence, the B♭ and E♭ saxophones were also used in orchestras. Beyond orchestras, saxophones are used to play classical music in concert bands, chamber music, and solo pieces. Saxophones are also used in marching bands, jazz groups, rock and roll, and other types of popular music.

How to Observe National Saxophone Day

If you are a saxophone player, celebrate the day by playing. If you don't play the saxophone it is never too late to start, and you could start taking lessons or teaching yourself how to play. The day could be celebrated by attending a performance or concert that includes saxophones. At the very least the day should be spent listening to saxophone music. You could listen to one of the best jazz saxophone albums, or one of the best jazz albums with a tenor sax.

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