What is a saxophone?

A saxophone is a family of metal, single reed instruments invented by Adolphe Sax (1814-1894) of Brussels in 1841. He patented the instrument in 1846 when he settled in Paris. The instruments have two basic shapes. The smaller ones are straight and the larger ones have the bell bent up and toward the front while the neck is bent back toward the player. There have been many orchestral and band versions of the instruments since the time of invention. Here are the ones in use today:

- Sopranino in Eb
- Soprano in Bb
- Alto in Eb
- Tenor in Bb
- Tenor in C (melody)
- Baritone in Eb
- Bass in Bb
-Contrabass in Eb
-Subcontrabass in Bb

The most commonly used are the alto, tenor and baritone models. The instrument has been used extensively in jazz and popular music as well as military bands and large wind ensembles. It has been used less often in orchestral and chamber music. Even today when you turn on the radio, you are bound to hear a saxophone as they are used for many different styles of music. 

2 comments

  • Janet

    Janet Charlotte, NC

    Hey Uncle! What instruments do you play and own?

    Hey Uncle!
    What instruments do you play and own?

  • Big Band Curtis

    Big Band Curtis

    Hi Janet, I currently play a Selmer USA Professional Alto Sax. In the past I have performed on a soprano, alto, tenor and baritone saxes in addition to flute, clarinet, trumpet, trombone, french horn, baritone horn, and piano.

    Hi Janet,

    I currently play a Selmer USA Professional Alto Sax. In the past I have performed on a soprano, alto, tenor and baritone saxes in addition to flute, clarinet, trumpet, trombone, french horn, baritone horn, and piano.

Add comment