(Single-reeded aerophone with keys)
|Developed||28 June 1846|
Military band family:
The saxophone (also referred to as the sax) is a family of woodwind instruments. Saxophones are usually made of brass and played with a single-reed mouthpiece similar to that of the clarinet. When the player presses a key, a pad either covers a hole or lifts off a hole, lowering or raising the pitch, respectively.
The saxophone family was invented by the Belgian instrument maker Adolphe Sax in 1840. Adolphe Sax wanted to create a group or series of instruments that would be the most powerful and vocal of the woodwinds, and the most adaptive of the brass instruments, that would fill the vacant middle ground between the two sections. Sax patented the saxophone on June 28, 1846, in two groups of seven instruments each. Each series consisted of instruments of various sizes in alternating transposition. The series pitched in B♭ and E♭, designed for military bands, have proved popular and most saxophones encountered today are from this series. Instruments from the so-called "orchestral" series, pitched in C and F, never gained a foothold, and the B♭ and E♭ instruments have now replaced the C and F instruments when the saxophone is used in an orchestra.
The saxophone is used in classical music (such as concert bands, chamber music, solo repertoire, and, occasionally, orchestras), military bands, marching bands, jazz (such as big bands and jazz combos), and contemporary music. The saxophone is also used as a solo and melody instrument or as a member of a horn section in some styles of rock and roll and popular music. Saxophone players are called saxophonists.
The saxophone was designed in 1846 by Adolphe Sax, a Belgian instrument maker, flautist, and clarinetist. Born in Dinant and originally based in Brussels, he moved to Paris in 1842 to establish his musical instrument business. Before working on the saxophone, he made several improvements to the bass clarinet by improving its keywork and acoustics and extending its lower range. Sax was also a maker of the ophicleide, a large conical brass instrument in the bass register with keys similar to a woodwind instrument. His experience with these two instruments allowed him to develop the skills and technologies needed to make the first saxophones.
As an outgrowth of his work improving the bass clarinet, Sax began developing an instrument with the projection of a brass instrument and the agility of a woodwind. He wanted it to overblow at the octave, unlike the clarinet, which rises in pitch by a twelfth when overblown. An instrument that overblows at the octave has identical fingering for both registers.
Sax created an instrument with a single-reed mouthpiece and conical brass body. Having constructed saxophones in several sizes in the early 1840s, Sax applied for, and received, a 15-year patent for the instrument on June 28, 1846. The patent encompassed 14 versions of the fundamental design, split into two categories of seven instruments each, and ranging from sopranino to contrabass.
Although the instruments transposed at either F or C have been considered "orchestral", there is no evidence that Sax intended this. As only three percent of Sax's surviving production were pitched in F and C, and as contemporary composers used the E♭ alto and B♭ bass saxophone freely in orchestral music, it is almost certain that Sax experimented to find the most suitable keys for these instruments, settling upon instruments alternating between E♭ and B♭ rather than those pitched in F or C, for reasons of tone and economy (the saxophones were the most expensive wind instruments of their day). The C soprano saxophone was the only instrument to sound at concert pitch. All the instruments were given an initial written range from the B below the treble staff to the F, one space above the three ledger lines above staff, giving each saxophone a range of two and a half octaves.
Sax's patent expired in 1866. Thereafter, numerous saxophonists and instrument manufacturers implemented their own improvements to the design and keywork.
The first substantial modification was made by a French manufacturer who extended the bell slightly and added an extra key to extend the range downwards by one semitone to B♭. It is suspected that Sax himself may have attempted this modification. This extension is currently standard in almost all modern designs, along with other minor changes such as added keys for alternate fingerings. Using alternate fingerings allows better fluency on the instrument. Alternate fingerings are often used for trilling, difficult musical passages, and interval jumps.
Sax's original keywork, which was based on the Triebert system 3 oboe for the left hand and the Boehm clarinet for the right, was simplistic and made playing certain legato passages and wide intervals extremely difficult to finger, so numerous developers added extra keys and alternate fingerings to make chromatic playing less difficult.
While early saxophones had two separate octave vents to assist in the playing of the upper registers (just as modern instruments do), Sax's original design had two separate octave keys operated by the left thumb. A substantial advancement in saxophone keywork was the development of a method by which the left thumb operates both tone holes with a single octave key, which is now universal on modern saxophones.
The modern layout of the saxophone emerged during the 1930s and 1940s, first with right-side bell keys introduced by C. G. Conn on baritones, then by King on altos and tenors. The mechanics of the left hand cluster were revolutionized by Selmer with their balanced action instruments in 1936 and in 1948, when Selmer introduced their Super Action saxophones with offset left and right hand stack keys. Between 30 and 40 years after Selmer devised their final layout it had been adopted for virtually every saxophone being produced, from student to professional models.
One of the most radical, however temporary, revisions of saxophone keywork was made in the 1950s by M. Houvenaghel of Paris, who completely redeveloped the mechanics of the system to allow a number of notes (C♯, B, A, G, F and E♭) to be flattened by a semitone simply by pressing the right middle finger. This enables a chromatic scale to be played over two octaves simply by playing the diatonic scale combined with alternately raising and lowering this one digit. However, this keywork never gained much popularity, and is no longer in use.
The saxophone consists of an approximately conical tube, usually of brass, flared at the tip to form a bell. At intervals along the tube are between 20 and 23 tone holes of varying size and two very small vent holes to assist the playing of the upper register. These holes are covered by keys (also known as pad cups) containing soft leather pads, which are closed to produce an airtight seal. At rest some of the holes stand open and others are closed.
The keys are activated by keytouches pressed by the fingers, either directly on the pad cup or connected to it with levers, either directly or with joints called "linkages." The right thumb sits under a thumb rest to stabilize and balance the saxophone, while the weight of most saxophones is supported by a neckstrap attached to a strap ring on the rear of the body of the instrument.
The fingering for the saxophone is a combination of that of the oboe with the Boehm system and is similar to the flute or upper register of the clarinet. Instruments that play to low A have a left thumb key for that note.
Some saxophone designs, such s the straight soprano and sopranino saxophones, consist of a straight conical tube. There are also straight design models for Alto and Tenor saxophones, although these are more commonly curved. This curved U-shape has become a distinctive feature of the saxophone family, to the extent that soprano and even sopranino saxes are sometimes made in the curved style. By contrast, tenors and even baritones have occasionally been made with the straight design.
Saxophones include a detachable "neck" above the highest tone hole directing the mouthpiece to the player's mouth. The baritone, bass, and contrabass saxophones accommodate the length of the bore with extra bows and right-angle bends between the main body and the mouthpiece.
Although most saxophones are made from brass, they are categorized as woodwind instruments. This is because sound is produced by an oscillating wooden reed. The screw pins that connect the rods to the posts, and the needle and leaf springs that cause the keys to return to their rest position after being released, are usually made of blued or stainless steel. Since 1920, most saxophones have smooth replaceable pieces placed where the fingers touch the instrument known as "key touches", which are usually made from either plastic or mother of pearl. Some saxophones include abalone or stone key touches.
For visual and tonal effect, higher copper alloys are sometimes substituted for the more common "yellow brass" or "cartridge brass". Yanagisawa made its 902 and 992 series saxophones with phosphor bronze to achieve a darker, more "vintage" tone than the brass from the 901 and 991 models. Other saxophones made of high copper alloys are sold under various brands including Chateau, Kessler, Saxgourmet, and Bauhaus Walstein.
King introduced saxophones with necks and bells of sterling silver during the 1930s and continued that scheme into the early 1960s. Yanagisawa revived it during the 1980s and later introduced entire instruments of sterling silver.Keilwerth and P. Mauriat have made saxophones with nickel silver bodies.
Opinions vary on the significance of body materials to sound. Other materials include phosphor bronze (Yanagisawa models), and the 1950s Grafton plastic alto saxophone and its successor, the Vibratosax, a polycarbonate model. Wooden Sawat saxophones are made in Thailand on a small scale.
Before final assembly, manufacturers usually apply a thin coating of clear or colored acrylic lacquer or silver plating over the brass. The lacquer or plating serves to protect the brass from oxidation and maintains its shiny appearance. Several different types and colors of surface finish have been used over the years. It is also possible to plate the instrument with nickel or gold, and a number of gold-plated saxophones have been produced. Plating saxophones with gold is an expensive process because gold does not adhere directly to brass. As a result, the brass is first plated with silver, then gold. Some saxophonists, retailers, and repair technicians argue that the type of lacquer or plating (or absence thereof) may play a factor on the instrument's tone quality.
The saxophone uses a single-reed mouthpiece similar to that of the clarinet. Most saxophonists use reeds made from Arundo donax cane, but since the 20th century some have also been made of fiberglass and other composite materials.
Saxophone reeds are proportioned slightly differently from clarinet reeds, being wider for the same length. Each size of saxophone (alto, tenor, etc.) uses a different size of reed. Reeds are commercially available in a vast array of brands, styles, and strengths. Saxophonists experiment with reeds of different strength (hardnesses) and material to find which strength and cut suits their mouthpiece, embouchure, physiology, playing style, and sought sound.
Mouthpieces come in a wide variety of materials, including vulcanized rubber (sometimes called hard rubber or ebonite), plastic, and metals such as bronze or surgical steel. Less common materials that have been used include wood, glass, crystal, porcelain, and bone. Recently, Delrin has been added to the stock of mouthpiece materials.
The effect of mouthpiece materials on tone of the saxophone has been the subject of much debate. According to Larry Teal, the mouthpiece material has little, if any, effect on the sound, and the physical dimensions give a mouthpiece its tone colour. There are examples of "dark" sounding metal pieces and "bright" sounding hard rubber pieces - Marcel Mule, for example, used a metal mouthpiece to perform classical music. Some mouthpiece design characteristics affecting tone and response are more restricted with hard rubber construction, owing to the lower rigidity of hard rubber relative to metal. The extra bulk of a hard rubber piece near the tip can affect mouth position and airflow characteristics that influence tone and response. Recently, increased mass of the mouthpiece over the shank (which fits over the neck cork) has become a design feature to enhance the integrity of harmonics by stabilizing the mouthpiece/neck connection.
Mouthpiece design has a profound impact on tone. Early mouthpieces were designed to produce a warm and round sound for classical playing. Among classical mouthpieces, those with a concave ("excavated") chamber are more true to Adolphe Sax's original design; these provide a softer or less piercing tone favored by some saxophonists for classical playing. Saxophonists who follow the French school of classical saxophone playing, influenced by Marcel Mule, generally use mouthpieces with smaller chambers.
The use of the saxophone in dance orchestras and jazz ensembles placed emphasis on dynamic range and projection, leading to rapid innovation within a mouthpiece's chamber shape and tip design, as well as metal construction. At the opposite extreme from the classical mouthpieces are those with a small chamber and a low clearance above the reed between the tip and the chamber, called high baffle. These produce a bright sound with maximum projection, suitable for having a sound stand out among amplified instruments and typical of modern pop and smooth jazz. Most saxophonists who play different styles have a mouthpiece suited for each style.
Early saxophone models alternate between B♭ and E♭. The other (orchestral) family patented by Sax, alternating instruments in C and F, has always been marginal, although some manufacturers tried to popularise the soprano in C (C soprano saxophone), the alto in F (mezzo-soprano saxophone), and the tenor in C (C melody saxophone) early in the twentieth century. The C melody received some popularity in the late 1920s and early 1930s as a parlor instrument. Instruments in F are rare. A mezzo-soprano in G has also been produced.
|#||Saxophone||Key||Sounds an octave lower than||Sounds an octave higher than|
The saxophone first gained popularity in military bands. Although the instrument was initially ignored in Germany, French and Belgian military bands were quick to include the instrument in their ensembles. Most French and Belgian military bands incorporate at least a quartet of saxophones, comprising an E♭ baritone, B♭ tenor, E♭ alto and B♭ soprano. These four instruments have proved the most popular of all of Sax's creations, with the E♭ contrabass and B♭ bass usually considered impractically large and the E♭ sopranino insufficiently powerful. British military bands tend to include at minimum two saxophonists, on the alto and tenor.
The saxophone was introduced into the concert band, which usually calls for an E♭ alto saxophone, a B♭ tenor saxophone, and an E♭ baritone saxophone. A concert band may include two altos, one tenor, and one baritone. A B♭ soprano saxophone is also used, in which case it is played by the first alto saxophonist. A bass saxophone in B♭ is used in some concert band music (especially music by Percy Grainger).
Saxophones are used in chamber music, such as saxophone quartets and other chamber combinations of instruments. The classical saxophone quartet consists of a B♭ soprano saxophone, E♭ alto saxophone, B♭ tenor saxophone, and E♭ baritone saxophone (SATB). On occasion, the soprano is replaced with a second alto sax (AATB); a few professional saxophone quartets have featured non-standard instrumentation, such as James Fei's Alto Quartet (four altos). There is a repertoire of classical compositions and arrangements for the SATB instrumentation dating back to the nineteenth century, particularly by French composers who knew Sax. The quartets led by Marcel Mule and Daniel Deffayet, saxophone professors at the Conservatoire de Paris, were started in 1928 and 1953, respectively, and were highly regarded. The Mule quartet is often considered the prototype for quartets due the level of virtuosity demonstrated by its members and its central role in the development of the quartet repertoire. However, organized quartets existed before Mule's ensemble, the prime example being the quartet headed by Eduard Lefebre (1834-1911), former soloist with the John Philip Sousa band in the United States around 1904-1911.
In the 20th and 21st centuries, the saxophone found increased popularity in symphony orchestras. The instrument has also been used in genres such as opera and choral music. Many musical theatre scores include parts for saxophone, sometimes doubling another woodwind or brass instrument.
The rise of the saxophone as a jazz instrument and in show bands followed its widespread adoption in dance bands during the early 1920s. The Fletcher Henderson Orchestra, formed in 1923, featured arrangements to back up improvisation, bringing the first elements of jazz to the large dance band format. Following the innovations of the Fletcher Henderson Orchestra, the Duke Ellington Orchestra and Jean Goldkette's Victor Recording Orchestra featured jazz solos with saxophones and other instruments. The association of dance bands with jazz would reach its peak with the swing music of the 1930s. The large show band format, an offshoot of swing bands, would be used as backing for popular vocalists and stage shows in the post World War II era, and provided a foundation for big band jazz. Show bands with saxophone sections became a staple of television talk shows (such as the Tonight Show that featured bands led by Doc Severinsen and Branford Marsalis) and Las Vegas stage shows. The swing era fostered the later saxophone styles that permeated bebop and rhythm and blues in the early postwar era.
Coleman Hawkins established the tenor saxophone as a jazz solo instrument during his stint with Fletcher Henderson from 1923 to 1934. Hawkins' arpeggiated, rich-toned, vibrato-laden style was the main influence on swing era tenor players before Lester Young, and his influence continued with other big-toned tenor players into the era of modern jazz. Among the tenor players directly influenced by him were Chu Berry, Charlie Barnet, Tex Beneke, Ben Webster, Vido Musso, Herschel Evans, Buddy Tate, and Don Byas. Hawkins' band mate Benny Carter and Duke Ellington's alto saxophonist Johnny Hodges became influential on swing era alto styles, while Harry Carney brought the baritone saxophone to prominence with the Duke Ellington Orchestra.
As Chicago style jazz evolved from New Orleans jazz in the 1920s, one of its defining features was the addition of saxophones to the ensemble. The small Chicago ensembles offered more improvisational freedom than did the New Orleans or large band formats, fostering the innovations of saxophonists Jimmy Dorsey (alto), Frankie Trumbauer (c-melody), Bud Freeman (tenor) and Stump Evans (baritone). Dorsey and Trumbauer became important influences on tenor saxophonist Lester Young.
Lester Young's approach on tenor saxophone differed from Hawkins', emphasizing more melodic "linear" playing that wove in and out of the chordal structure and longer phrases that differed from those suggested by the tune. He used vibrato less, fitting it to the passage he was playing. His tone was smoother and darker that that of his 1930s contemporaries. Young's playing was a major influence on the modern jazz saxophonists Al Cohn, Stan Getz, Zoot Sims, Dexter Gordon, Wardell Gray, Lee Konitz, Warne Marsh, Charlie Parker, and Art Pepper.
The influence of Lester Young with the Count Basie Orchestra in the late 1930s and the popularity of Hawkins' 1939 recording of "Body and Soul" marked the saxophone as an influence on jazz equal to the trumpet, which had been the defining instrument of jazz since its beginnings in New Orleans. But the greatest influence of the saxophone on jazz was to occur a few years later when alto saxophonist Charlie Parker became an icon of the bebop revolution that influenced generations of jazz musicians. The small-group format of bebop and post-bebop jazz ensembles gained ascendancy in the 1940s as musicians used the harmonic and melodic freedom pioneered by Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk, and Bud Powell in extended jazz solos.
Other prominent alto saxophone players in 1950s jazz included Sonny Stitt, Cannonball Adderley, Jackie McLean, Lou Donaldson, Sonny Criss and Paul Desmond, while prominent tenor players included Lester Young, Coleman Hawkins, Dexter Gordon, John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Stan Getz, Zoot Sims, Lucky Thompson, Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis, and Paul Gonsalves. The baritone sax, featured in big bands as more of an ensemble instrument than as a solo instrument, was popularized as a solo instrument within small groups by musicians such as Serge Chaloff, Gerry Mulligan, Pepper Adams and Leo Parker. The soprano saxophone was popularized by Sidney Bechet in early jazz, but then largely fell out of favor with greater emphasis on section playing during the 1930s. Steve Lacy renewed attention to the soprano in the context of modern jazz during the 1950s and John Coltrane boosted the instrument's popularity during the 1960s. Smooth jazz musician Kenny G also uses the soprano sax as his principal instrument.
Saxophonists such as John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman, Sam Rivers, and Pharoah Sanders defined the forefront of creative exploration with the avant-garde movement of the 1960s. Modal, harmolodic, and free jazz further removed boundaries and the new space was explored with every device that saxophonists could conceive of. Sheets of sound, tonal exploration, upper harmonics, and multiphonics were hallmarks of the creative possibilities that saxophones offered in the new realm. One lasting influence of the avant-garde movement is the exploration of non-Western ethnic sounds on the saxophone, for example, the African-influenced sounds used by Sanders. The devices of the avant-garde movement have continued to be influential in music that challenges the boundaries between avant-garde and other categories of jazz, such as that of alto saxophonists Steve Coleman and Greg Osby.
Some ensembles such as the World Saxophone Quartet use the soprano-alto-tenor-baritone (SATB) format of the classical saxophone quartet for jazz. In the 1990s, World Saxophone Quartet founder Hamiet Bluiett formed the quartet Baritone Nation (four baritones).
The "jump swing" bands of the 1940s gave rise to rhythm and blues, featuring horn sections and exuberant, strong-toned, heavily rhythmic styles of saxophone playing with a melodic sense based on blues tonalities. Illinois Jacquet, Sam Butera, Arnett Cobb, and Jimmy Forrest were major influences on R&B tenor styles and Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson, Earl Bostic, and Bull Moose Jackson were major influences on alto. The R&B saxophone players influenced later genres including rock and roll, ska, soul, and funk. Horn section work continued, with Johnny Otis and Ray Charles featuring horn sections and the Memphis Horns, the Phenix Horns, and Tower of Power achieving distinction for their section playing. Horn sections were added to the Chicago and West Coast blues bands of Lowell Fulson, T-Bone Walker, B.B. King, and Guitar Slim. The rock/soul fusion bands Chicago, The Electric Flag, and Blood, Sweat, and Tears featured horn sections. Junior Walker, King Curtis and Maceo Parker became influential soul and funk saxophone stylists. Bobby Keys and Clarence Clemons were well known rock & roll saxophone stylists.
A number of saxes and saxophone-related instruments have appeared since Sax's original work, most with no significant success. These include the saxello, essentially a straight B♭ soprano, but with a slightly curved neck and tipped bell; the straight alto; and the straight B♭ tenor. Since a straight-bore tenor is approximately five feet long, the cumbersome size of such a design makes it almost impossible to either play or transport. "King" Saxellos, made by the H. N. White Company in the 1920s, now command prices up to US $4,000. A number of companies, including Keilwerth, Rampone & Cazzani (altello model), L.A. Sax and Sax Dakota USA, are marketing straight-bore, tipped-bell soprano saxophones as saxellos (or "saxello sopranos").
The contralto saxophone, similar in size to the orchestral soprano, was developed in the late 20th century by Californian instrument maker Jim Schmidt. This instrument has a larger bore and a new fingering system, and does not resemble the C melody instrument except for its key and register. Another new arrival to the sax scene is the soprillo sax, a piccolo-sized straight instrument with the upper speaker hole built into the mouthpiece. The instrument, which extends Sax's original family, as it is pitched a full octave higher than the B♭ soprano sax, is manufactured by Benedikt Eppelsheim, of Munich, Germany. There is a rare prototype slide tenor saxophone. One company that produced a slide soprano saxophone was Reiffel & Husted, Chicago, c. 1922 (catalog NMM 5385).
Two of these variants were championed by jazz musician Rahsaan Roland Kirk, who called his straight Buescher alto a "stritch" and his modified saxello a "manzello", the latter with an oversized bell and modified key work. Though rare, the Buescher straight alto was a production item instrument while the manzello was indeed a saxello with a custom-made bell.
Another unusual variant of the saxophone is the Conn-O-Sax, a straight-conical bore instrument in F (one step above the E♭ alto) with a slightly curved neck and spherical bell. This instrument, which combines a saxophone bore and keys with a bell shaped similar to that of a heckelphone, was intended to imitate the timbre of the English horn and was produced only in 1929 and 1930. The instrument has a key range from low A to high G. Fewer than 100 Conn-O-Saxes are in existence and they are highly sought by collectors. A mezzo-soprano in the key of G has been produced by Danish woodwind technician Peter Jessen, most notably played by Joe Lovano. This instrument is more in the timbral quality of Bb soprano saxophone.
The tubax, developed in 1999 by the German instrument maker Benedikt Eppelsheim, plays the same range and with the same fingering as the E♭ contrabass saxophone; its bore, however, is narrower than that of a contrabass saxophone, making for a more compact instrument with a "reedier" tone (akin to the double-reed contrabass sarrusophone). It can be played with the smaller (and more commonly available) baritone saxophone mouthpiece and reeds. Eppelsheim has also produced subcontrabass tubaxes in C and B♭, the latter being the lowest saxophone ever made. Among the most recent developments is the aulochrome, a double soprano saxophone invented by Belgian instrument maker François Louis in 2001.
The fingering scheme of the saxophone, which has had only minor changes since the instrument's original invention, has presented inherent acoustic problems related to closed keys below the first open tonehole that affect response of, and slightly muffle, some notes. There is also a lack of tactile consistency moving between key centers. Extra effort is required from the player to adjust modes of muscle memory when moving between key centers. Two efforts to remedy the acoustic problems and awkward aspects of the original fingering system are noteworthy.
The Leblanc Rationale and System saxophones have key mechanics designed to remedy the acoustic problems associated with closed keys below the first open tonehole. They also enable players to make half-step shifts of scales by depressing one key while keeping the rest of the fingering consistent with that of the fingering a half step away (which can also trip up players used to certain alternate fingerings on a regular saxophone). Some Leblanc System features were built into the Vito Model 35 saxophones of the 1950s and 1960s. The acceptance of what was arguably a superior system was impaired by the adjustment required of players switching between System and non-System horns, and the added costs associated with the compounded complexity of certain key mechanisms.
The chromatic or linear fingering, saxophone is a project of instrument designer and builder Jim Schmidt, developing a horn maximizing tactile and logical consistency between every interval regardless of the key, and avoiding the acoustic problems associated closed keys below the first open tone hole. Several working prototypes have been built and presented at trade shows. Production of this original and expensive saxophone is on an individual order basis.
Inexpensive keyless folk versions of the saxophone made of bamboo (recalling a chalumeau) were developed in the 20th century by instrument makers in Hawaii, Jamaica, Thailand, Indonesia, Ethiopia, and Argentina. The Hawaiian instrument, called a xaphoon, was invented during the 1970s and is also marketed as a "bamboo sax", although its cylindrical bore more closely resembles that of a clarinet, and its lack of any keywork makes it more akin to a recorder. Jamaica's best known exponent of a similar type of homemade bamboo "saxophone" was the mento musician and instrument maker 'Sugar Belly' (William Walker). In the Minahasa region of the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, there exist entire bands made up of bamboo "saxophones" and "brass" instruments of various sizes. These instruments are imitations of European instruments, made using local materials. Similar instruments are produced in Thailand.
In Argentina, Ángel Sampedro del Río and Mariana García have produced bamboo saxophones of various sizes since 1985, the larger of which have bamboo keys to allow for the playing of lower notes.
Many synthesizer wind controllers are played and fingered like a saxophone.
Music for most saxophones is usually notated using treble clef. The standard written range extends from a B♭ below the staff to an F or F♯ three ledger lines above the staff. Most, if not all, intermediate and professional saxophones made today are built with F♯ keys, with F♯ included on even student instruments.
There are many models of soprano saxophone that have a key for high G, and most modern models of baritone saxophone have an extended bore and key to produce low A; it is also possible to play a low A on any saxophone by blocking the end of the bell, usually with the foot or inside of the left thigh. Low A keys however were not limited to just the baritone saxophone. For a short time Selmer Paris produced mark VI alto saxophones with the low A key. Notes above F are considered part of the altissimo register of any sax, and can be produced using advanced embouchure techniques and fingering combinations. Sax himself had mastered these techniques; he demonstrated the instrument as having a range of just beyond three octaves up to a (written) high B4. Modern saxophone players have extended this range to over 4 octaves on tenor and alto.
Because all saxophones use the same key arrangement and fingering to produce a given notated pitch, it is not difficult for a competent player to switch among the various sizes when the music has been suitably transposed, and many do so. Since the baritone and alto are pitched in E♭, players can read concert pitch music notated in the bass clef by reading it as if it were treble clef and adding three sharps to the key signature. This process, referred to as clef substitution, makes it possible for the Eb instruments to play from parts written for baritone horn, bassoon, euphonium, string bass, trombone, or tuba. This can be useful if a band or orchestra lacks one of those instruments.
A preference as to material used is up to the individual, and the advantages of each are a matter of controversy. Mouthpieces of various materials with the same dimensions, including the chamber and outside measurements as well as the facing, play very nearly the same.