About Us
About us

The saxophone was developed in the 1840s by Adolphe Sax, a Belgian-born instrument-maker, flautist and clarinetistworking in Par -is. While still working at his father’s instrument shop in Brussels, Sax began developing an instrument which had the projection of a b -rass instrument with the mobility of a woodwind. Another priority was to create an instrument which, while similar to the clarinet, wo -uld overblowat the octave, unlike the clarinet, which rises in pitchby a twelfthwhen overblown; an instrument which over blew at the octave would have identical fingeringfor both registers. This also allows sax players to make better use of overtones.

Prior to his work on the saxophone, Sax made several improvements to the bass clarinetby improving its keyword and acoustics and extending its lower range. Sax was also a maker of the then-popular ophicleide, a large conical brass instrument in the bass register w ith keys similar to a woodwind instrument. His experience with these two instruments allowed him to develop the skills and technolog -ies needed to make the first saxophones. Adolph Sax created an instrument with a single reed mouthpiece like a clarinet, conical bras -s body like an ophicleide, and the acousticproperties of the flute.

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 sopraninoto contrabass. In the group Sax envisaged for orchestralwork, the instruments transposedat either F or C, while the "military band" group included instruments alternating between EbandBb.The orchestral soprano saxophone was the only i -nstrument to sound at concert pitch. All the instruments were given aninitial written range from the B below the treble staff to the F t -hree ledger linesabove it, 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 improvemen ts to the design and key work. The first substantial modification was by a French manufacturer who extended the bell slightly and adde -d an extra key to extend the range downwards by one semitoneto B♭. It is suspected that Sax himself may have attempted this modifi -cation. This extension was adopted into almost all modern designs.

Sax’s original key work was very simplistic and made playing some legato passages and wide intervals extremely difficult to finger, s o numerous developers added extra keys and alternate fingerings to make chromatic playing less difficult. While the early saxophone h< -ad two separate octave vents to assist in the playing of the upper registers just as modern instruments do, players of Sax’s original de -sign had to operate these via two separate octave keysoperated by the left thumb. A substantial advancement in saxophone key work
was the development of a method by which both tone holes are operated by a single octave key by the left thumb which is now univer -sal on all modern saxophones. One of the most radical, however temporary, revisions of saxophone key work was made in the 1950s b -y M. Houvenaghel of Paris, who completely redeveloped the mechanics of the system to allow a number of notes (C#,B, A, G, F and Eb )to be flattenedby a semitonesimply by lowering the right middle finger. This enables a chromatic scale to be played over two octaves simply by playing the diatonic scalecombined with alternately raising and lowering this one digit.However, this keyword never gained much popularity, and is no longer in use.

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