Soprano saxophone  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

The soprano saxophone is a variety of the saxophone, a woodwind instrument, invented in 1840. The soprano is the third smallest member of the saxophone family, which consists (from smallest to largest) of the soprillo, sopranino, soprano, alto, tenor, baritone, bass, contrabass and tubax.

A transposing instrument pitched in the key of BTemplate:Music, modern soprano saxophones with a high F# key have a range from ATemplate:Music3 to E6 and are therefore pitched one octave above the tenor saxophone. Some saxophones have additional keys, allowing them to play an additional FTemplate:Music and G at the top of the range. These extra keys are commonly found on more modern saxophones. Additionally, skilled players can make use of the Altissimo register, which allows them to play even higher. There is also a soprano pitched in C, which is less common and has not been made since around 1940.

The soprano saxophone can be compared to the BTemplate:Music clarinet. Although the clarinet can play a diminshed fifth lower and over a fifth higher, the sax generally has a louder and more penetrating sound in the extreme high notes. Due to the smaller bore of the soprano, it is less forgiving with respect to intonation, though an experienced player will use alternate fingerings or vary breath support, tongue position, or embouchure to compensate. Professional players will use the technique of voicing to fix problems with intonation. Due to its similarity in tone to the oboe, the soprano saxophone is sometimes used as a substitute for it.

Soprano saxophones are usually straight, but sometimes have slightly or fully curved necks and bells. The fully curved variety looks much like a small alto saxophone with a straighter crook. There is some debate over the effect of the straight and curved neck, with some players believing that a curved neck on a soprano gives it a warmer, less nasal tone. The soprano has all of the keys on other saxophone models (with the exception of the extra 'A' on some baritones) and some (e.g. those made by Yanagisawa and Bauhaus Walstein) may have a top 'G' key next to the F-sharp key. Soprano saxophone mouthpieces are available in various designs, allowing players to tailor their tone as required.

In 2001, Fran├žois Louis created the aulochrome, a new woodwind instrument that is made of two soprano saxophones joined together, which can be played either in unison or in harmony.Template:Citation needed

Known practitioners

Musicians especially known for playing the soprano saxophone include classical saxophonists Eugene Rousseau, Kenneth Tse, and Jean-Yves Fourmeau. Jazz saxophonists John Coltrane (most notably on the landmark album My Favorite Things), Walter Parazaider, Sidney Bechet, Bob Berg, Wayne Shorter, Joe Farrell, Steve Lacy, Lucky Thompson, Sonny Fortune, Anthony Braxton, Gary Bartz, Dan Forshaw, Bennie Maupin, Branford Marsalis, Kirk Whalum, Jan Garbarek, Danny Markovitch of Marbin, Paul Winter, Dave Liebman, Evan Parker, Sam Newsome. Smooth jazz saxophonists Kenny G, Jay Beckenstein, Dave Koz, Grover Washington, Jr.; and Nigerian Afrobeat singer, Fela Kuti.

In classical music

The soprano saxophone is mainly used as a solo instrument in classical music, though it is occasionally used as a member of an orchestra or concert band. It is included in the saxophone quartet and plays a lead role. Many solo pieces have been written for it by composers such as Heitor Villa-Lobos, Jennifer Higdon, Takashi Yoshimatsu, and John Mackey.

As an orchestral member, it has been used in several compositions. It was used by Richard Strauss in his Sinfonia Domestica, where included in the music are parts for four saxophones, including a soprano saxophone in C. It is also used in Maurice Ravel's "Bolero" and has a featured solo directly following the tenor saxophone's solo.

See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Soprano saxophone" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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