(Single-reeded aerophone with keys)
|Developed||28 June 1846|
In E♭: sounds a major sixth lower than written. Most modern alto saxophones can reach a high F♯
Military band family:
The alto saxophone is a member of the saxophone family of woodwind instruments invented by Belgian instrument designer Adolphe Sax in the 1840s, and patented in 1846. It is smaller than the tenor but larger than the soprano. The alto and tenor are the most common types of saxophones. The alto saxophone is commonly used in classical music (such as concert bands, chamber music, and solo repertoire), military bands, marching bands, and jazz (such as big bands, jazz combos, swing music, etc.).
The alto saxophone is an E♭ transposing instrument and reads the treble clef. A written C-natural sounds a major sixth lower (concert E♭) when played. Because the alto saxophone is a reed instrument, it is classified as a woodwind instrument.
The range of the alto saxophone is from concert D♭3 (the D♭ below middle C—see Scientific pitch notation) to concert A♭5 (or A5 on altos with a high F♯ key). As with most types of saxophones, the standard written range is B♭3 to F6 (or F♯6). Above that, the altissimo register begins at F♯ and extends upwards. The saxophone's altissimo register is more difficult to control than that of other woodwinds and is usually only expected from advanced players. By covering or partially covering the bell of the saxophone when playing B♭3, it is possible for the alto saxophone to reach A3 as well.
Some notable jazz alto saxophonists include Charlie Parker, Kenny Garrett, Jimmy Dorsey, Johnny Hodges, Art Pepper, Cannonball Adderley, Eric Dolphy, Sonny Stitt, David Sanborn, Ornette Coleman, Anthony Braxton, Phil Woods, John Zorn, and Paul Desmond.
Some notable classical alto saxophonists include Timothy McAllister, Marcel Mule, Sigurd Raschèr, Jean-Yves Fourmeau, Lawrence Gwozdz, Frederick L. Hemke, Donald Sinta, Harvey Pittel, Larry Teal, Jean-Marie Londeix, Kenneth Tse, Arno Bornkamp, Harry White, Otis Murphy, Claude Delangle, and Eugene Rousseau.
Some companies that currently produce saxophones are Buffet Crampon, KHS/Jupiter, Conn-Selmer, Selmer Paris, Yamaha, Leblanc/Vito, Keilwerth, Cannonball, and Yanagisawa. New alto saxophones range in price between €250 for lower quality student models to over €2500 for professional models.
In classical music
The alto saxophone, has a large classical solo repertoire that includes solos with orchestra, piano, and wind symphony. Two of the most well-known solo compositions are Jacques Ibert's "Concertino da Camera" and Alexander Glazunov's "Concerto in E Flat major".
The alto saxophone is also occasionally used in orchestral compositions. Several orchestral examples are listed below.
Allan Pettersson makes use of an alto in his 16th symphony.
Gallery of Alto Saxophones
Full range (from B♭ to F) chromatic scale
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Conn 6M "Lady Face" brass alto (dated 1935) in its original case
Grafton alto made of plastic, circa 1950s
- "June 28, 1846: Parisian Inventor Patents Saxophone". Wired.com. Retrieved 14 February 2011.
- "Range of the Alto Saxophone". Library.thinkquest.org. Archived from the original on 2009-03-17. Retrieved 2011-01-18.
- Photo Gallery :: SaxPics.com