Tenor Saxophone

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The tenor saxophone is a single-reed woodwind instrument and one of the most commonly found in the saxophone family. It consists of a conical metal tube, a mouthpiece and 24 keys that are operated to produce a melody. The tenor saxophone is tuned to Bb and has become an essential part of jazz, blues, swing, rock and various other genres of popular music.
History of the Tenor Saxophone
The tenor saxophone is a member of the saxophone family which bears the unique history of having all been invented by one person, the father of the saxophone, Adolphe Sax. In the 17th century, The Serpent was the most common wind brass instrument ancestor which later developed into the ophicleide (invented by Jean Hilaire Aste). These mid-century designs gave way to the invention of piston-valve based instruments in the 18th century, which have become the foundation of modern brass instruments. The saxophone, however, is not a brass instrument as it has a wooden reed which makes it a woodwind instrument. Belgian inventor Adolphe Sax patented the saxophone and its 14 variations in Paris during a boom that also saw the invention of the euphonium and bass tuba. Sax wanted to create a hybrid that was made of brass but had the soothing sound of woodwind instruments. The tenor saxophone became one of two most dominant saxophones (along with the alto) in Kansas city jazz in the 1920s and then into jazz and bebop during the 1930s. Players like Coleman Hawkins popularised the tenor saxophone as the saxophone to use during its boom in the 1930s and 40s swing and big band scene. As funk, ska, reggae and rock ‘n’ roll emerged in the 1970s and 80s, the tenor saxophone became a fundamental part of the sound of these genres. It continues to be one of the most commonly found woodwind instruments today.
Inventor: Unknown

Where to Buy

$1,500 - $5,000

Hear the Tenor Saxophone

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How to Play

A type of saxophone with a pitch between an alto and baritone saxophone, played with a single reed and mouthpiece.

In Popular Music

The tenor saxophone is one of the most popular types of saxophone in popular music recording. It can be heard prominently in the solo section of ‘Money’ by Pink Floyd and many Bruce Springsteen songs such as ‘Born To Run’ from 1975.

Famous Players

Coleman Hawkins, Sonny Rollins, Michael Brecker

Close Relations

Alto Saxophone, Baritone Saxophone
Video Credit: Daniele Vitale Sax
Understanding the Tenor Saxophone










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