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Bass saxophone
Adrian Rollini.jpg
Adrian Rollini
Classification

Wind Woodwind

Aerophone
Playing range
Sax range.svg

In B: sounds one octave and a major ninth lower than written..
Related instruments

Military band family:


Orchestral family:


Other saxophones:

Musicians
More articles

The bass saxophone is the second largest existing member of the saxophone family (not counting the subcontrabass tubax). It is similar in design to a baritone saxophone, but it is larger, with a longer loop near the mouthpiece. Unlike the baritone, the bass saxophone is not commonly used. While some composers did write parts for the instrument through the early twentieth century (such as Percy Grainger in Lincolnshire Posy), the bass sax part in today's wind bands is usually handled by the tuba, or in jazz and other popular-music bands by the double bass or electric bass, all of which have a lower range. In the 1920s, the bass saxophone was often used in early jazz recordings, since it was at that time much easier to record than the tuba or double bass.

The instrument was first used in 1844 by Hector Berlioz, in an arrangement of his Chant sacre, as well as in the opera Le Dernier Roi de Juda by Georges Kastner, also in 1844. Leonard Bernstein used a bass saxophone in his original score for West Side Story, as did Meredith Willson in his original score for Music Man. The American composer Warren Benson has championed the use of the instrument in his music for concert band.

Although originally available in either B or C (the latter for orchestral use), the modern bass saxophone is pitched in B, a perfect fourth lower than the baritone, and thus similar in register to the B contrabass clarinet. Music for bass sax is written in treble clef, just as for the other saxophones, but it sounds two octaves and a major second lower than written. Like the other members of the saxophone family, the lowest written note is B below the staff — for bass saxophone, this note is a concert A in the first octave (~ 51.9 Hz).

The lowest existing member of the saxophone family is the rare (and massive) contrabass, pitched in E, a perfect fifth lower than the bass. Inventor Adolphe Sax had a patent for a subcontrabass saxophone (or bourdon saxophone), but he apparently never built a fully functioning instrument. In 1999, German wind instrument maker Benedikt Eppelsheim introduced the Subcontrabass Tubax, a modified saxophone pitched in B an octave below the Bass Saxophone.

Adolphe Sax, the saxophone's inventor, first exhibited the bass saxophone in C at an exhibition in Brussels in 1841. The bass saxophone thus has the distinction of having been the first saxophone to be presented to the public.

The bass saxophone enjoyed some measure of popularity in jazz combos between World War I and World War II, with the bass saxophone used primarily to provide bass lines (although occasionally players took melodic solos). Notable players of this era include Billy Fowler, Coleman Hawkins, Adrian Rollini, Spencer Clark, and Vern Brown of the Six Brown Brothers.[1]

The American bandleader Boyd Raeburn (1913-1966), who led an avant-garde big band in the 1940s, was a bass saxophonist. In Britain, the leader of the Oscar Rabin Band played this instrument. Harry Gold, a member of Rabin's band, also played the instrument in his own band, Pieces of Eight. In his 1960-1963 "Mellophonium Orchestra" (which featured fourteen brass players), American bandleader Stan Kenton used a Saxophone section consisting of one Alto, two Tenors, Baritone, and Bass. The ensemble recorded several successful albums, including two Grammy winners.[2]

The 1970s traditional jazz band The Memphis Nighthawks built their sound around a bass saxophone played by the diminutive Dave Feinman, who could just reach his mouthpiece. Some of the finest revivalist bass saxophonists performing today in the 1920s-1930s style are Vince Giordano and Bert Brandsma, leader of the Dixieland Crackerjacks. Jazz players using the instrument in a more contemporary style include Roscoe Mitchell, Anthony Braxton, Peter Brötzmann, J. D. Parran, Hamiet Bluiett, James Carter, Stefan Zeniuk, Vinny Golia, Joseph Jarman, Jan Garbarek, Urs Leimgruber, Tony Bevan, and Scott Robinson, though none of these uses it as their primary instrument.

In the genres of rock and funk, Angelo Moore of the American band Fishbone plays bass saxophone. In the 1960s, Rodney Slater used the instrument in the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, as did Ralph Carney of the avant-garde rock band Tin Huey, which formed in the 1970s. John Linnell of They Might Be Giants (formed 1982) and Dana Colley of Morphine (formed 1989) also play the bass saxophone on occasion.

In classical music

It was used by Richard Strauss in his Sinfonia Domestica, where included in the music are parts for four saxophones including a bass saxophone in C.

References

External links

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