Single-reed keyed brass instrument invented by Sax around 1840. Saxophones have clarinet-like mouthpieces (which means that clarinettists can easily play them) and conical tubes, rather stout, with a U-bend and an outward-pointing, flared bell, though the higher members of the family are customarily made straight. They have a normal range of two and a half octaves, extended to three or even four by some makers. The commonest sizes are the soprano in B♭, alto in E♭, tenor in B♭ and baritone in E♭; less common are the sopranino, bass and contrabass. Sax also created a second family of instruments in C and F for orchestral use, but these are obsolete: the band instruments, popularized by Sousa and others at the end of the 19th century, spread into the symphony orchestra, and gained a further boost when they were taken up by jazz musicians after the First World War.
Saxophones — most commonly the alto, but also the tenor and soprano — appear in orchestral scores by Bizet (L'Arlésienne), Strauss (Symphonia domestica), Bartók (The Wooden Prince), Berg (Lulu), Ravel (Boléro, Pictures at an Exhibition), Prokofiev (Romeo and Juliet) and Birtwistle (The Triumph of Time), among others. Solo pieces include Debussy's Rhapsody (with piano) and Birtwistle's Panic (with drummer and wind orchestra). There are also works for saxophone quartet.
Saxophone (1995); , ed. The Cambridge Companion to the Saxophone (1998)
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