The Saxophone: The History and Evolution 

20th September 2017
The Saxophones : The History and Evolution 

The saxophone is a single-reed musical instrument that is known as a staple in jazz bands. Although it was invented about 150 years ago, saxophones are one of the newer instruments in the musical spectrum, invented by Antoine-Joseph (Adolphe) Sax.

In 1841, Adolphe Sax first showed his brass saxophone to the notable composer Hector Berlioz who was fascinated by the uniqueness and adaptability of the instrument. On June 12th, 1842, Hector Berlioz published an article in the magazine “Journal des Debats” describing the saxophone and from there, its popularity grew.

Although Adolphe Sax originally intended for the saxophone to be an orchestra instrument, this never happened. This is primarily because Sax had a few enemies in the orchestral institution since he had a constant desire to improve the wind instruments in the orchestra and secondly because the saxophone lacked precision which was necessary at the time.

The saxophone finally became known as a key element of all military bands in 1845. During this time, the French Army band was still using “traditional” instrumentation and Sax saw this as an opportunity introduce the saxophone and improve the tonal quality in all bands. During a “battle of the bands”, he proposed a ‘battle’ between a band formed of the original orchestral instruments and a band that included saxophones. Sax’s band overwhelmed the crowd and on that day, the saxophone was officially introduced into the French Army Band and soon to all other bands. By 1846, there were 14 variations of the saxophone.

It wasn’t until about 75 years later that the saxophone began to be used to play dance music. To do this the saxophone needed to be altered to compete with loud trumpets, boisterous drums, dancing feet and loud talking that accompanied the 20th-century dance bands. The mouthpiece was made smaller and more parallel which gave the sax the loud sound needed for jazz and dance music. Since this modification, the saxophone has been thought of as primarily a jazz instrument.

To this day many musical instruments companies create their own saxophones and it continues to enjoy a leading position in jazz bands. The elegant sound of a sax quintet or a blaring jazz soloist can be heard universally.

If you’re interested in learning one of the greatest musical instruments in the history of modern day music, come over to Olimpus in Mosta where we have a wide range of saxophones that’ll be sure to suit your requirements.

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