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The Saxophone: A young innovative instrument for a young and innovative form of music.

February 25, 2010

A selection of early saxophones

The saxophone has become one of the core instruments used in jazz composition since the style inception in the early 1900’s, but many people may not realize that the Saxophone only predates jazz by just over 60 years.

The Saxophone was invented by Adolphe Sax in the mid 1800’s. Adolfo was born in the small picturesque town of Dinnant, Belgium where his father worked as a musical instrument maker. Adolphe developed  his fathers passion of inventing new instruments, this led him to try and perfect a bass clarinet which evolved into the first saxophone.

Over many years the design of the saxophone was modified and perfected with the assistance of composer and friend Hector Berlioz. The saxophone was exhibited at the Paris Industrial Exhibition, this coincided with the performance of the fist choral works to include the saxophone composed by Berloiz. The saxophone was later that year included in orchestral performances in Paris. The instrument was also adopted and became popular with marching bands due to its sound, design and durability.

In 1846 Adolphe obtained a patent for the saxophone with its 14 variations and the following year a school was set up in Paris to teach the instrument.

It was not until 1885 that the first saxophone began to be made in North America where they became popular with military and marching bands. Many early jazz groups used the instruments from marching bands, this accessibility to the instrument lead it to become an integral part of early Jazz bands.

Today the saxophone is the instrument most synonymously linked with jazz with both feeding off the others success and development.

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