(Single-reeded aerophone with keys)
|Developed||28 June 1846|
In E♭: sounds a major sixth lower than written. Most modern alto saxophones can reach a high F♯
Military band family:
The alto saxophone, also referred to as the alto sax, is a member of the saxophone family of woodwind instruments invented by Belgian instrument designer Adolphe Sax in the 1840s, and patented in 1846. It is pitched in E♭, and is smaller than the tenor, but larger than the soprano. The alto sax is the most common saxophone and is commonly used in concert bands, chamber music, solo repertoire, military bands, marching bands, and jazz (such as big bands, jazz combos, swing music). The fingerings of the different saxophones are all the same so a saxophone player can play any type of saxophone.
Full range (from B♭ to F) chromatic scale
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The range of the alto saxophone is from concert D♭3 (the D♭ below F--see Scientific pitch notation) to concert A♭5 (or A5 on altos with a high F♯ key). As with most types of saxophone, the standard written range is B♭3 to F6 (or F♯6). Above that, the altissimo register begins at F♯6 (or G6) and extends upwards. The saxophone's altissimo register is more difficult to control than that of other woodwinds and is usually only expected from advanced players. By covering or partially covering the bell of the saxophone when playing B♭3, it is possible for the alto saxophone to reach A3 as well.
Some notable jazz alto saxophonists include Don Redman, Jimmy Dorsey, Johnny Hodges, Benny Carter, Charlie Parker, Sonny Stitt, Lee Konitz, Jackie McLean, Phil Woods, Art Pepper, Paul Desmond, Cannonball Adderley, Eric Dolphy, Ornette Coleman, Bobby Watson, Marshall Allen, Julius Hemphill, Oliver Lake, Anthony Braxton, Henry Threadgill, Carlos Ward, David Sanborn, Tom Scott, Paquito D'Rivera, John Zorn, Tim Berne, Steve Wilson, Steve Coleman, Greg Osby, Kenny Garrett, Vincent Herring, John Coltrane, Mark Gross, and Candy Dulfer.
Some notable classical alto saxophonists include Timothy McAllister, Marcel Mule, Sigurd Raschèr, Jean-Yves Fourmeau, Lawrence Gwozdz, Frederick L. Hemke, Donald Sinta, Harvey Pittel, Larry Teal, Jean-Marie Londeix, Kenneth Tse, Arno Bornkamp, Harry White, Otis Murphy, Claude Delangle and Eugene Rousseau.
Some companies that currently produce saxophones are Buffet Crampon, KHS/Jupiter, Conn-Selmer, Selmer Paris, Yamaha, Leblanc/Vito, Keilwerth, Cannonball and Yanagisawa. New alto saxophones range in price between EUR250 ($281.05) for lower quality student models to over EUR6000 ($6745.20) for professional models.
The alto saxophone has a large classical solo repertoire that includes solos with orchestra, piano and wind symphony. Two of the most well-known solo compositions are Jacques Ibert's "Concertino da Camera" and Alexander Glazunov's "Concerto in E Flat major".
The alto saxophone is also occasionally used in orchestral compositions. Several orchestral examples are listed below.