Classical Composers & the Saxophone?

July 10, 2010 at 5:13 pm | Posted in Musical Instruments | 3 Comments
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Have you ever wondered what classical musicians would have thought of modern sounds and instruments? Although the saxophone has been around for over a century, it came after the time of many of the “masters” of classical music such as Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven. Saxophones are not generally a part of orchestras. Nor may they be found in most symphonies. The only time I’ve seen them being used with a full orchestra are when the orchestra is performing a “pop” piece of music.

Clarinetists, flautists, and other woodwind players frequently double on the saxophone. I know that’s how I started to play the instrument. Although I dearly love playing classical flute, let’s face it, there are not jobs begging for the style except for orchestras, weddings, and churches. So, in trying to make a living, it was suggested to me to double on sax. After I stopped laughing, I said I’d give it a try. It was a very different concept for me at first, but I have grown to love the instrument immensely!! Sax players are definitely more in demand for rock and jazz music.

I have found that classical and jazz musicians have a very different way of thinking of things ~ not just as far as music, but in many other aspects in thought and behavior. Although I practiced until I could play the right notes at the right time, I felt very awkward with a saxophone in my hands. I suppose I stuck out like a sore thumb trying to play jazz sax like a classical flautist! My comrades have taught me to “chill out a little” and to feel more free to experiment with my playing. That’s a good thing I suppose, but now when playing my classical gigs I have gotten into trouble improvising with a few blue notes in my classic solos. (I have to let you know that not all orchestra conductors have quite the same sense of humor as members in a band!)

Saxophone is one of the instruments that I teach in my music school. Since I have been working on creating resources for all my students to learn more about instruments, to hear a variety of examples, to find free and economical sheet music, and to join in instrument communities of musicians, my latest website is dedicated to my energetic saxophone students, and written to share with anyone who has an interest in the instrument. If you would like to read it, you may check it out at Saxophones are Sensational!

How about some of Mozart’s “Rondo Alla Turca” for Saxophone Quartet?

What do you think Mozart would have thought of the instrument? Or any other of the most famous composers? I have often wondered how their music may have been different if they had access to electric guitars, synthesizers, … and saxophones. Do you think they would have liked them and incorporated them into their music, or would they have gone off running and screaming?

**July 23, 2010 ** Addition **
A related article about the saxophone may be found at “Sweet Sounds of a Saxophone”. You will also find pictures and links to some saxophone designed gifts and clothing that I designed at my Cafe Press Shop, Joyful Inspiration Gallery!


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