Hibike! Euphonium Wiki

Warning: the wiki content may contain spoilers!

READ MORE

Hibike! Euphonium Wiki
Advertisement

The saxophone (サックス Sakkusu), also referred to as the sax, is a family of woodwind instruments. Someone who plays the saxophone is called a saxophonist or simply a saxophone/sax player.

Construction[]

Saxophones come in all shapes and sizes, but all varieties consist of the same general structure. It consists of a conical tube, usually made of brass, narrowest at the end nearest the player, and widest at the end, where it flares into the bell. All saxophones larger than the soprano are guaranteed to curve upwards 180° at the bottom, which then has a segment that leads to the bell, however, some sopranos and even smaller varieties may have this upwards curve, but it is less common. The end of this tube closest to the player then connects to the neckpiece, whose shape and length depends on the type of saxophone, and has a piece of cork wrapped around one end. This cork is used to secure a seal when the mouthpiece is attached to the neck.

Since it is a woodwind, it uses a reed to produce sound. In the saxophone's case, it uses a single-reed mouthpiece, similar to the clarinet. The reed is made of cane or plastic and comes in different strengths that alter the tone. Generally, the greater the strength of the reed, the more difficult it is to play on. Most players stick between a 2.5 strength or a 3 strength.

The instrument has 23 standard keys that are used to change the pitch. It also has an octave key which facilitates reaching the upper register by opening two small speaker holes depending on the note being played (D to G open the first, A and beyond open the second).

Variants[]

Generally speaking, saxophones are pitched in two keys: B♭ and E♭. When the instrument was first created, there were also instruments in C and F, intended for orchestral use, however, they never became popular enough to remain relevant. Thus, very few of the latter still remain.

The saxophone family is also hailed as one of the best examples of how an instrument family should function. It is very linear, especially in modern days, and it is easy to understand the members of the family.

Soprano, Alto, Tenor, and Baritone[]

The soprano, alto, tenor and bari or baritone saxophones are the 4 most common types of saxophones. Most saxophonists own or are at least experienced with all 4 of these, but tend to "main" one of them, usually alto or tenor.

Soprillo[]

The sopranissimo or soprillo saxophone is the highest pitched member of the saxophone family. It is a transposing instrument pitched in B♭, one octave above the soprano. The instrument is so small that its uppermost register's key work has to be reduced by as much as 3 semitones as compared to a normal saxophone, as it is literally the size of a large fork. It is extremely difficult to play and there is very little demand for the instrument. It is currently only sold by one manufacturer as a result.

Sopranino[]

The sopranino saxophone is the second smallest saxophone and the smallest in regular use. It is a transposing instrument pitched in E♭, one octave above the alto. It is uncommon for them to be curved, but some curved varieties do exist. It is also the smallest saxophone originally envisioned and constructed by Adolphe Sax, the creator of the saxophone.

C Soprano[]

The C soprano saxophone is a variety of the saxophone, which, as the name suggests, is a soprano pitched in C. It existed to fill in the orchestral side of the saxophone family, but as the whole family was not well-received, the instrument did not make it past the first half of the 20th century. Some still exist, but they are not nearly as popular.

It is slightly smaller than the B♭ soprano sax, which is the only notable physical difference of the instrument. Tonally, it is near identical to the B♭ soprano. Additionally, it is non-transposing, giving it an advantage over other members of the family.

Aulochrome[]

The aulochrome is a unique variety of the saxophone. It consists of two B♭ soprano saxophones which are attached together and can be played separately or dually. This modern amalgamation has not seen too much usage, as it is impractical, but there are some artists who have made use of the instrument.

Mezzo-Soprano[]

The mezzo-soprano or F-alto saxophone is a rare, near-extinct breed of the saxophone. It is a transposing instrument pitched in F and is the only saxophone ever produced in this key. It is described as sounding like an alto in the mid-low register, but like a soprano in the higher register. It was only ever produced by one company for 2 years right before the Great Depression, and it was not very popular. Later, the remaining stock of instruments was intentionally damaged to teach new repair technicians how to fix saxophones, and after many years of bludgeoning, they eventually had to be scrapped.

However, recently a Danish instrument maker has produced a mezzo-soprano saxophone in G, and there has been conversation among several companies about a revival of the F mezzo-soprano.

C Melody[]

The C Melody Sax, C Tenor Sax or simply Melody Sax is an uncommon variant of the tenor saxophone, pitched in C. It existed to fill in the orchestral side of the saxophone family, but as the whole family was not well-received, the instrument did not make it past the first half of the 20th century. Some still exist, but they are not nearly as popular.

The instrument is slightly smaller than the B♭ tenor sax but larger than the alto sax, and its neck is straight like an alto. Additionally, it is non-transposing, giving it an advantage over other members of the family.

Bass[]

The bass saxophone is a large and somewhat uncommon member of the saxophone family. It is a transposing instrument pitched in B♭, one octave below the tenor. It has seen most of its use in early 20th-century jazz bands, and not many ensembles have used it since due to its impracticality. Interestingly, the first saxophone ever revealed to the public was a C bass saxophone in 1841.

Contrabass, Subcontrabass, and Tubax[]

The contrabass and subcontrabass saxophones are the two lowest members of the saxophone family, both being incredibly rare. The contrabass is pitched in EE♭, one octave below the baritone, the subcontrabass pitched in CC, one octave lower than the C bass, and the subcontrabass is pitched in BB♭, one octave lower than the bass. Only the contrabass was designed by Adolphe Sax, and a functioning subcontrabass was not produced until the very end of the 20th century.

Recently, both these instruments experienced a resurgence in popularity, and thus companies began producing them. Among them, one company invented a new type of saxophone known as the tubax. Its name is a portmanteau of tuba and sax since it is such a large instrument. Tubaxes exist in both E♭ contrabass and B♭ or C subcontrabass varieties. It was invented to compact the practical size of the instrument, as well as changing the size of the bore as compared to regular saxophones. Due to this, its tone is somewhat unlike regular saxophones, and it is often debated over whether or not it is truly a member of the saxophone family. Some say it is closer to a sarrusophone, but its bore is much larger than such an instrument.

Performance[]

The saxophone is often criticized as being the easiest wind instrument to play (save for the odd-ones-out like recorders), however, there is a great deal of nuance in playing that makes sax one of the most difficult to master. Every player will develop a unique tone that takes years of intense practice to achieve, and there are dozens of techniques that all great saxophonists must be able to perform. As such, this notion is far from the truth.

The instrument's finger system is quite easy to understand and near-identical to the recorder, which a lot of students learn before picking up the sax. It is also much easier to produce a consistent tone compared to the clarinet, which experiences more resistance. Combined, this makes the instrument seem very easy. Further into their musical career, though, sax players have to learn techniques that are just as difficult as other instruments, like tonguing, and later extended range called altissimo, which, combined with the fact that tonally it is quite difficult, puts it on par with other instruments.

Some of the techniques saxophonists can expect to encounter include growling (achieved by humming while playing), bends, or slap-tonguing. Saxophonists need to cover a broad range of tones and techniques since they cover such a vast range of playing styles.

Scoring[]

The saxophone is most commonly used in concert bands, jazz bands, marching bands, military bands, and occasionally symphony orchestras. It is also very popularly used as a solo instrument or in rock and pop music.

The standard set of parts for a saxophone section is 1-2 altos, 1 tenor, and 1 baritone, though some pieces may also call for a soprano. Particularly in jazz bands, there may be another part for tenor, and early jazz music may have called for bass saxophone.

The size of a saxophone section is dependent on the size of the ensemble as a whole, but typically there is two players to each part (except soprano if it is used). Sometimes the section is larger, particularly in modern school bands since the instrument is popular.

As portrayed in Hibike! Euphonium[]

There are nine students who play saxophone in the Kitauji High School Concert Band:

In Sound! Euphonium: The Movie - Our Promise: A Brand New Day, several more sax players join the ensemble:

Trivia[]

  • The saxophone was named after its inventor, Adolphe Sax.
  • Saxophones are often mistaken as brass instruments since most of the instrument's construction is brass or some other type of metal. However, saxophones are considered woodwinds because of their use of a single-reed mouthpiece to produce sound.
  • Of the few surviving C and F saxophones today, the C Tenor (Melody) is the most common. Only a handful of C sopranos and F altos have survived. There is only one surviving C Bass in the world. The F sopranino and F Baritone simply do not exist, despite the fact that they were scored by Maurice Ravel and Richard Strauss respectively in one piece each (Boléro and Symphonia Domestica respectively.)

Gallery[]

Advertisement