Sax on the Web Forum banner

1 - 20 of 72 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
46 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
While working as a year-round lifeguard it is normally a common practice to make conversation with the members who swim frequently. I was conversing with woman who had gone to music school for opera studies. I told her how I too, planned on studying music in college. When I told her that I play Saxophone she snorted and replied "oh, so you play jazz" and then she walked away.
I was shocked. It seems as if a good deal of people see the saxophone as only a jazz and rock n' roll instrument. I do enjoy jazz on occasion although, I am seriously turned off by the buzzy screaming sound that some, inexperienced players produce.

This must be common knowledge to many of you but somehow the "overdriven-kazoo-giving-birth-to-a-rhinoceros" sound is almost always associated with the saxophone. I wish that the saxophone could be seen for the expressive orchestral instrument that it's intended to be.

Has anyone else had a similar experience?
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
1,812 Posts
Flute sounds bad in jazz but I'm not a big fan of the flute in classical music either.

When I hear someone say he wants "an edge", I cringe. That is what I don't want. Classical fans find the saxophone annoying but they haven't heard classical saxophone played well and maybe they never will because the classical music repertoire for saxophone is modern classical. I'm guessing people who dismiss the saxophone don't like modern classical either.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member/Sax Historian
Joined
·
7,107 Posts
You have a very important point there, dt.

From talking to a few classical players, they have to walk a line on the typical orchestral gig, because they are only there as a special feature. Music directors want a non-symphonic sound, or they would not bring in a saxophone at all.

The rep using sax as a "seriously" orchestral instrument, and calling for that dark blending expressiveness, is just not relatable to the average, educated classical music listener. One reason is that it is not part of any recognized canon - something listeners rely on heavily to tell them what's good. Most substantial orchestral sax works were written in the 1920s to 50s era in a kind of romantic-modern style. That makes it a real risk to program for the majority of orchestras whose audiences are very traditional, OR the minority which focus on new music of the past few decades.

Not to hit on the music itself of course - much of it is beautiful stuff. But when you're running a group as big as a symphony (even chamber) orchestra, you unfortunately have to follow traditions and accepted practices. Otherwise you let down your donors, administrators, and fundraisers, who are even more important than your audience. They guide the tastes of the audience. A truly independent listener is a rarity in concert music. Especially in the case of orchestral saxophone, where recordings are too few in number.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,325 Posts
While working as a year-round lifeguard it is normally a common practice to make conversation with the members who swim frequently. I was conversing with woman who had gone to music school for opera studies. I told her how I too, planned on studying music in college. When I told her that I play Saxophone she snorted and replied "oh, so you play jazz" and then she walked away.
I was shocked. It seems as if a good deal of people see the saxophone as only a jazz and rock n' roll instrument. I do enjoy jazz on occasion although, I am seriously turned off by the buzzy screaming sound that some, inexperienced players produce.

This must be common knowledge to many of you but somehow the "overdriven-kazoo-giving-birth-to-a-rhinoceros" sound is almost always associated with the saxophone. I wish that the saxophone could be seen for the expressive orchestral instrument that it's intended to be.

Has anyone else had a similar experience?
I have witnessed this so regularly in my (so far) 35 year career as a saxophonist that I don't find myself surprised any more!

It is extraordinary that anybody is still so clueless about the use of the saxophone in classical music, more so that this ignorance exists amongst 'so called' musicians. Unfortunately you will also find this stupidity amongst some SOTW members. I can play in pretty much any style you like on the saxophone, and just like any other professional I have played for a myriad of different conductors and composers and generally all they want is for me to play the music as it was concieved (with some flair if possible) and most really don't care a damn how I classify myself as long as the result is as they imagined. However in contrast to that I'm sad to say I have badly patronized by some conductors (who should know better) before even playing a note!

In the end you have to ignore it all and plough your own furrow. But, a word of warning - if you really intend to pursue a career solely as a saxophone player in classical music, you will have to get a job in education (or such like) in order to pay the bills.

Oh, and BTW, most musicians worth their salt are turned off by "the buzzy screaming sound that some, inexperienced players produce" :bluewink:
 

·
SOTW Administrator
Joined
·
26,204 Posts
A real opera singer would not snort at jazz music. I've worked with several good ones, and a couple of great ones. Some of them actually play jazz (at least the ones that are musicians).
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
2,640 Posts
While working as a year-round lifeguard it is normally a common practice to make conversation with the members who swim frequently. I was conversing with woman who had gone to music school for opera studies. I told her how I too, planned on studying music in college. When I told her that I play Saxophone she snorted and replied "oh, so you play jazz" and then she walked away.
I was shocked. It seems as if a good deal of people see the saxophone as only a jazz and rock n' roll instrument. I do enjoy jazz on occasion although, I am seriously turned off by the buzzy screaming sound that some, inexperienced players produce.

This must be common knowledge to many of you but somehow the "overdriven-kazoo-giving-birth-to-a-rhinoceros" sound is almost always associated with the saxophone. I wish that the saxophone could be seen for the expressive orchestral instrument that it's intended to be.

Has anyone else had a similar experience?
I would rather sound like a overdriven-kazzo-giving-birth-to-a-rhinoceros than a classical gutless dog fart.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member/Sax Historian
Joined
·
7,107 Posts
DaveR; said:
It is extraordinary that anybody is still so clueless about the use of the saxophone in classical music, more so that this ignorance exists amongst 'so called' musicians. Unfortunately you will also find this stupidity amongst some SOTW members. I can play in pretty much any style you like on the saxophone, and just like any other professional I have played for a myriad of different conductors and composers and generally all they want is for me to play the music as it was concieved (with some flair if possible) and most really don't care a damn how I classify myself as long as the result is as they imagined. However in contrast to that I'm sad to say I have badly patronized by some conductors (who should know better) before even playing a note!

In the end you have to ignore it all and plough your own furrow. But, a word of warning - if you really intend to pursue a career solely as a saxophone player in classical music, you will have to get a job in education (or such like) in order to pay the bills.
I'm reminded of something said many years ago by Upton Sinclair, the writer and reformer:
"It is very difficult to make someone understand something when his job depends on not understanding it."

Not understanding the saxophone is part of the "job" of most classically trained musicians. Nobody planned it that way - it's just due to prevailing attitudes and where the lines are drawn. For the most part, classical players who don't spend time with music outside the classical mainstream are regarded as more serious and dedicated than those who do. Saxophonists should not expect to be misunderstood by the classical music community, but they won't make much headway if they expect to be understood, either.

The reality is that even the best classical saxophone works and players lack standing in the world of concert music - and in that world, standing is vital. Everything depends on it, and there is no one good way to achieve it, because it is not up to the artist, but the greater community of artists - as well as critics, audiences, and organizations, each more conservative than the last.

Among saxophonists, Sigurd Rascher was undoubtedly the best at clearing those barriers. But he did it entirely thru persistence and virtuosity - and even he only got so far. Anyone who can't at least equal him in both those qualities probably doesn't have a hope of changing things - especially at this point in history, when all of concert music is engaged in a kind of holding action. Doing anything differently might drive away the remains of an ever shrinking audience, which shows little sign of new life except in the safest and most prestigious quarters.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
228 Posts
Trav - the stereotype is reinforced at the university level, where sax sections are generally made up of conscripted jazz majors who don't give a crap about the ensemble or nuances like blend and an appropriate sound.

That being said, I'm kind of with storm on this one. If your pretensions demand that you sound like a neutered cello, don't expect much work.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,359 Posts
Lets be honest here, though. Most of the first popular (widely heard) repertoire featuring saxes was jazz rather than classical concertos or solos. We can blame cruel fate for scheduling jazz to be developed first, however, I think as time goes on, more and more people are accepting the saxophone as another beautiful and expressive voice for "classical" playing. It's all about exposure.

EDIT: I forgot to mention, any musician or listener who rejects a voice, sound, or genre purely based on principle is an idiot.
 

·
SOTW Administrator
Joined
·
26,204 Posts
Trav - the stereotype is reinforced at the university level, where sax sections are generally made up of conscripted jazz majors who don't give a crap about the ensemble or nuances like blend and an appropriate sound.

That being said, I'm kind of with storm on this one. If your pretensions demand that you sound like a neutered cello, don't expect much work.
But Adolphe INTENDED for the sax to sound like a neutered cello.:twisted::popcorn::brush:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,325 Posts
Forgive me, but the point is that to play the saxophone well in any style of music requires hard workl. This is a fact. And, if you sound like a "classical gutless dogfart" then that's because you don't play well, just as much as if you sound like an "overdriven-kazzo-giving-birth-to-a-rhinoceros".

Believe it or not it IS possible to play ALL music well on the saxophone! If you can do one style, don't knock those who happen do the other. IT'S ALL THE SAME THING! Just different aspects of one instrument.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
3,302 Posts
Every time we unpack the horn and play any genre of music, it is an opportunity to represent our instrument in the best light. Most of the orchestral pieces that I play are unrelated to jazz, with the saxophone treated equitably as another orchestral color. The beautiful alto part in Berg's Violin Concerto, for example, presented the opportunity to blend with clarinets, double-reeds, flutes, and with the violin soloist when it shared the foreground. Embrace it all, but do it well, as the reputation of our instrument depends on it. We may not have the weight of long history behind us, but we are creating it every day.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
46 Posts
Discussion Starter #14
Some people seem a little heated. Let me clear things up, I DO enjoy jazz. I just think that there are too many people who think that they can play jazz. One example of this is the tenor player who sit next to during Wind ensemble. During sectionals, I find myself coaching him on tone,blending, and more importantly proper air support. This poor kid thinks he sounds good and he doesn't, my band director even talked to me about his tone. BTW has anyone ever tried to run a sectional consisting of Bassoon, bass clarinet, tenor, and bari sax?

Trav - the stereotype is reinforced at the university level, where sax sections are generally made up of conscripted jazz majors who don't give a crap about the ensemble or nuances like blend and an appropriate sound.
I am definitely afraid of this next year, not to mention the previously mentioned tenor player's private teacher is the sax teacher at the university I'm going to next year. this makes me nervous.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
2,384 Posts
Trav - the stereotype is reinforced at the university level, where sax sections are generally made up of conscripted jazz majors who don't give a crap about the ensemble or nuances like blend and an appropriate sound.
Boo hiss. I had zero interest in "classical" tenor sax in college -- so much so that I played clarinet in the symphonic band that I was conscripted into (I was last chair of the 3rd clarinets, right behind people with head injuries and dead people!), because I thought if I was going to do evil with an instrument in a concert band setting, that instrument should be a clarinet (since it had done so much evil to me...).

Regarding the woman who assumed, pejoratively apparently, that you were a jazz saxophonist since you were a saxophonist -- I'm assuming that since she was an opera gal, she was fat.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
3,875 Posts
So you're annoyed by elitists who dismiss the saxophone as a classical instrument while simultaneously being elitist in being dismissive of jazz saxophone? Hmmmm. . . .

I get that you do like jazz, but you don't try to make your point in that manner. And there are legit saxophonist who have the same problem as your tenor friend. Try not to paint with such a broad stroke.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,359 Posts
Some people seem a little heated. Let me clear things up, I DO enjoy jazz. I just think that there are too many people who think that they can play jazz. One example of this is the tenor player who sit next to during Wind ensemble. During sectionals, I find myself coaching him on tone,blending, and more importantly proper air support. This poor kid thinks he sounds good and he doesn't, my band director even talked to me about his tone. BTW has anyone ever tried to run a sectional consisting of Bassoon, bass clarinet, tenor, and bari sax?



I am definitely afraid of this next year, not to mention the previously mentioned tenor player's private teacher is the sax teacher at the university I'm going to next year. this makes me nervous.
I understand your frustration. Not trying to call your problems small potatoes, but lets just say that the tenor next to me doesn't understand the concept of tonguing, as a 9th grader, plus plays a quarter tone sharp above D2. Fun. I empathize.

Anyways, I wouldn't be scared just yet. Where are you going and for what degree? Remember, you have to get in with a classical audition, do you not? My future professor, a student of Hemke for two degrees, is VERY picky when it comes to concert sound and also believed that legit studies are just as important as jazz.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
46 Posts
Discussion Starter #18
When did I say that I dismissed jazz sax? I specifically stated that I am not fond of the ugly buzzing sound that inexperienced players produce. Some how this buzz has become associated with sax, through pop-culture I presume. The notable jazz sax players: Charlie Parker, Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Stan Getz, and even Gerry Mulligan did not have this "buzzy sound" but a even, and warm sound. I have no doubt that they all understood how to blend with a section as well and stick out for solos when they needed too. Maybe a better way to describe the "buzz" sound is to just think of sax in the 80's I'm aware that some of you here were unfortunate enough to live through that decade only to be greeted 10 years later bye... the 00's
 
1 - 20 of 72 Posts
Top