HIS MAJESTY SAXOPHONE

On 24th June the music world celebrates the International Day of the Jazz Saxophone, a instrument which came to jazz from classic music. Can anyone nowadays imagine jazz without the saxophone? Fighting for its place in the sun from the very beginning of its existence, it is now firmly established in the hearts of millions; the saxophone is at the peak of its popularity.



One day, actually on 17th May 1846, the Belgian craftsman Adolphe Saxe patented his creation - the saxophone - an instrument with a range of two and a half octaves, whose timbre blends equally well with a variety of instruments. His idea was to create a new instrument which would bridge the woodwind and brass sections. To fulfill his intention, Adolph used a completely new principle: he connected a conical tube to the mouthpiece of a clarinet and the valve mechanism of an oboe. The body is made of metal, similar in shape to a bass clarinet; expanding to the end in a tightly bent tube to which an S-shaped mouthpiece is attached. Saxe's idea was rather successful: indeed, the new instrument did become the link between brass and woodwind sections. Moreover, its timbre turned out to be so interesting that it attracted the attention of many musicians. The sound coloring of the saxophone is reminiscent of the alto oboe (cor anglais) and the clarinet as well as the 'cello; however its sound volume is much greater than that of the clarinet.
French military bands of the day were in real need of such an instrument, capable of connecting the timbres of brass and wood. Military bands then were in a very bad way. Wood and brass instruments were not completely blended, playing across each other. Oboes and clarinets could not be heard against trumpets, flutes tried to outvoice trombones - all this creating dissonance (the music pitch of different sections differing greatly). Saxe's invention improved the situation. He came up



with a family of instruments and called them "Saxhorns". Saxhorns are still played in parades, marching the squares - two of the five have not changed since the day they were invented more than 100 years ago. There were seven types of saxophones, differing in pitch, however the highest and the lowest saxophones are rarely played. Many composers of the 20th century appreciated the true value of this interesting instrument. Debussy wrote a rhapsody for the saxophone with orchestra, Glazunov - a concerto for the saxophone with orchestra, Prokofiev and Shostakovich turned to it repeatedly. However, the true essence of the saxophone was realised in jazz music where this instrument has been widely adopted. In the second decade of the last century, jazz players noticed it and a new chapter of its history began. It became the instrument of the age, reflecting all its tendencies. There is no doubt that since that time the saxophone has been considered the "King of Jazz".