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A modern bass saxhorn in B-flat

The saxhorn is a valved brass instrument with a tapered bore and deep cup-shaped mouthpiece. The sound has a characteristic mellow quality, and blends well with other brass.

Contents

The saxhorn family

The saxhorns form a family of seven instruments (although at one point ten different sizes seem to have existed). Designed for band use, they are pitched alternately in E-flat and B-flat, like the saxophone group. There was a parallel family built in F and C for orchestral use, but this seems to have died out.

There is much confusion as to nomenclature of the various instruments in different languages. This has been exacerbated by the debate as to whether the saxhorn family was truly new, or rather a development of members of the previously existing cornet and tuba families. The saxhorn is also commonly confused with the flügelhorn, a German instrument which has a different configuration and predates the saxhorn. This confusion is not helped by the fact that most instruments referred to today as flügelhorns are actually soprano saxhorns.

The following table lists the members of the saxhorn family as described in the orchestration texts of Hector Berlioz and Cecil Forsyth, the J. Howard Foote catalog of 1893, and modern names.

Foote Berlioz Forsyth Modern
--- Sopranino in C/B-flat --- ---
--- Soprano in E-flat Sopranino in E-flat Sopranino/Soprano in E-flat
--- Alto in B-flat Soprano in B-flat Soprano/Alto in B-flat
Alto in E-flat Tenor in E-flat Alto in E-flat Alto/Tenor in E-flat
Tenor in B-flat Baritone in B-flat Tenor in B-flat Tenor/Baritone in B-flat
Baritone in B-flat Bass in B-flat Bass in B-flat Baritone/Bass in B-flat
Bass in E-flat Contrabass in E-flat Bass in E-flat Bass in E-flat
Contrabass in E-flat Contrabass in B-flat Contrabass in B-flat Contrabass in B-flat
--- Contrabass in low E-flat --- ---
--- Bourdon in B-flat --- ---

History

Band of 10th Veteran Reserve Corps, Washington, D.C., April, 1865

Developed during the mid to late 1830s, the saxhorn family was patented in Paris in 1845 by Adolphe Sax. Sax's claim to have invented the instrument was hotly contested by other brass instrument makers during his lifetime, leading to various lawsuits. Throughout the mid-1850s, he continued to experiment with the instrument's valve pattern.

Saxhorns were popularized by the distinguished Distin Quintet, who toured Europe during the mid-nineteenth century. This family of musicians, publishers and instrument manufacturers had a significant impact on the growth of the brass band movement in Britain during the mid-to late-1800s.

The saxhorn was the most common brass instrument in American Civil War bands. The over-the-shoulder variety of the instrument was used, as the backward-pointing bell of the instrument allowed troops marching behind the band to hear the music.

Contemporary works featuring this instrument are Désiré Dondeyne's "Tubissimo" for bass tuba or saxhorn and piano (1983) and Olivier Messiaen's "Et exspecto resurrectionem mortuorum" (1984).

References

Discography

  • Saxhorn et piano - Hybrid'Music Label - october 2008

David Maillot, saxhorn - Géraldine Dutroncy, piano - Works by Eugène Bozza, Marcel Bitsch, Jacques Castérède, Alain Bernaud, Henri Tomasi, Claude Pascal, Gérard Devos and Roger Boutry.

14 Volumes of saxhorn band are available featuring The First Brigade Band http://1stbrigadeband.org/1_home.html

See also

External links

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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

SAXHORN, the generic name of a family of brass wind instruments (not horns but valve-bugles) with cup-shaped mouthpieces, invented by Adolphe Sax and in use chiefly in French and Belgian military bands and in small wind-bands. The saxhorns came into being in 1843, when Sax applied a modification of the valve system invented in Germany in 1815 to the keyed bugle. The saxhorn consists of a conical tube of a calibre greater than that of French horn and trumpet, but smaller than that of the tubas or bombardons, and capable therefore of producing by overblowing the members of the harmonic series from the 2nd to the 8th, in common with the cornets, bugles, valve-trombones and the Wagner tubas. The saxhorns are furnished with three valves, by means of which 2 s 4 s 6 7 8 the compass is rendered chromatic, and which act as in other valve instruments, lowering the pitch of the instrument when depressed, respectively 1 tone, a semitone and i 2 tones; and further, when used in combination, 2 tones, 21 tones and 3 tones. The Fliigelhorns, the euphonium, the bombardon and the tubas are sometimes erroneously classed as saxhorns. The difference between saxhorns and bombardons or tubas consists in the calibre of the bore, which in the latter is sufficiently wide in proportion to the length to produce the fundamental note of the harmonic series an octave below the lowest note of the saxhorns. The consequence of this structural difference is important, for whereas the tube of the tubas is theoretically of the same length as an open organ pipe of the same pitch, the saxhorns require a tube twice that length to produce the same scale. For instance, a euphonium sounding 8 ft. C only needs a tube 8 ft. long, whereas the corresponding bass saxhorn requires one 16 ft. long. In Germany these structural differences have given rise to a classification of brass wind instruments as whole or half instruments (Ganze or Halbe), 1 according to whether the whole or only the half of the length of tubing is of practical use. The members of the saxhorn family are the small saxhorn in Eb, the soprano in Bb, the alto in Eb, the tenor in Bb, the bass in B5 (an octave lower), the low bass in Ey, the contrabass in By, three octaves below the soprano. All the saxhorns are treated as transposing instruments. 2 A similar family, constructed with rotary valves and conical tubes of larger calibre than the saxhorns, but having the same harmonic scale, is known in Germany as Fltigelhorn. (K. S.) 1 See Dr Emil Schafhautl's article on musical instruments in sect. iv. of Bericht der Beurteilungscommission bei der allg. deutschen Industrieausstellung, 1854 (Munich, 1855), pp. 169-170.

2 Georges Kastner, in Manuel general de musique militaire (Paris, 1848), gives full information on the saxhorns, pp. 230 et seq., 246-247, and Pls. xxii. and xxiii.


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