17.05.

1846: How did the Saxophone Get its Name?

1846: How did the Saxophone Get its Name?
Photo Credit To Wikipedia Commons

Story Highlights

  • Historical event:
  • 17 May 1846
  • Adolphe Sax was a Belgian musician and instrument designer and it was precisely on this day, back in 1846, that he patented his new instrument - the saxophone.

Few people know the fact that the saxophone was named after Adolphe Sax.

He was a Belgian musician and instrument designer and it was precisely on this day, back in 1846, that he patented his new instrument – the saxophone.

Sax came from a family of instrument makers. He played the flute and clarinet as a boy, and already at 15 he made those instruments himself.

He experimented with new designs of instruments, especially the bass clarinet and contrabass clarinet, which already had an upward-curved tube, similar to the later saxophone.

It is interesting that the saxophone is today categorized as a woodwind instrument, even though it is made of metal. This is due to the similarity of the saxophone with woodwind instruments, particularly the clarinet and oboe.

Namely, the saxophone produces sound by means of a single-reed mouthpiece that vibrates when it is blown into, similar to that of the clarinet. When he constructed the saxophone, Sax’s intention was precisely to make an instrument that would fill a gap between wooden and metal blowers.

He wanted an instrument that would be the strongest of the woodwinds and the most adaptive of the brass – so he made the saxophone.

With the arrival of jazz music, the saxophone gained huge popularity. By the end of the 1920s, about a million-and-a-half Americans knew how to play it.

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