The saxophone is an incredible instrument. Possessed of a distinctive shapely form, a piercing volume, and – most importantly of all – the capability to be played incredibly expressively, the sax has it all. The saxophone arguably found its calling in the hands of Jazz musicians, first carving out the rules of the genre in the early 20th century. The extremely expressive nature of the saxophone lent itself perfectly to this new explosion of musical creativity emanating from the African American populations of cities like New Orleans and New York City. The saxophone was loud enough to broadcast a melody around a busy club or square, was durable enough to be treated roughly, and was malleable enough to make an absolutely vast range of sounds. Jazz and the saxophone went hand in hand. Some of the best jazz records ever cut featured the saxophone in a starring role. John Coltrane’s ‘A Love Supreme’ is a prime example of jazz saxophone playing.

The saxophone isn’t just a jazz instrument. It is an established orchestral woodwind instrument, a perfect melody maker in pop music (Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band come to mind), and a versatile noisemaker in avant-garde compositions. Here are a few facts about the saxophone that you might not know. 

It Is A Relatively New Invention

Most woodwind and brass instruments we use today have very deep roots. The trumpet, for instance, has been played since 1500 BC. The flute is even older, with some archeologists theorizing that it is the oldest musical instrument in the world. The saxophone, on the other hand, is a very new invention. The saxophone was invented by Adolphe Sax in 1846. Sax was a Belgian working as an instrument maker in Paris, France. 

The Saxophone Family is A Large One

The alto is by far the common saxophone for beginners, and most teachers will recommend starting on an alto horn before moving on to a more specialist sax. If you are going to play online saxophone lessons, then your best bet is to purchase an alto, as lessons will almost certainly be given with this in mind.

Having said this, it is worth considering that the saxophone family is a very large one. Saxophones range from the tiny sopranissimo to the vast sub-contrabass size. Subcontrabass saxophones are rarely used in concert. They are so low pitched that most people would struggle to hear their lowermost notes in an ensemble. 

Reeds Are Made Out Of Weeds

Saxophone reeds are made out of Arundo Donax, which is an invasive species in the United States. It is the fastest-growing plants in the world – capable of growing 10 cm a day in the right conditions. This has made it a huge problem because it easily outcompetes native species. By buying (or making) a saxophone reed, you might actually be doing the environment a favor. 

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