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Was Adolphe Saxes first sax the baritone or bass, i always was lead to believe it was the baritone but after reading the cambridge, Thomas Liley states it was a bass he came to this conclusion from Berliozs statement in 1843 the low sound of an instrument in Bflat starting its range at contra B.

I am deciding my masters topic 'the Baritone Saxophone, a soloist or chamber instrument?' and therefore this instrument would be very interesting. If anyone knows the answer i would love to know, and also your source from where you got your answer
 

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My understanding was that the first was a bass. If you can, check out Wally Horwood's book on Adolphe Sax. I believe I picked this info up there in a chapter describing early experiments leading to the saxophone's creation.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks,

Just did some research and found so many sources stating bass. A bass in C is the answer from the earliest source. Berlioz in fact
 

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Bass in C is correct. Ya know that the Horwood book is about $100 on most websites? Original list price (because I have the book right behind me and I can check) was 9.50 Pounds. That's about $20 US.
 

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Pete said:
Bass in C is correct. Ya know that the Horwood book is about $100 on most websites? Original list price (because I have the book right behind me and I can check) was 9.50 Pounds. That's about $20 US.
That price is silly, thankfully our library has it. The Horwood book is the best I know of for an unbiased, academic saxophone history. I wonder if there is a way to get enough interest behind a republishing (isn't that the problem? It's out of print?). The saxophone world relies heavily on this resource, seems like it could make a little money if it was reprinted.
 

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The price is only silly to those who have ready access to the original in a library, and who may only wish to reference it once. Those who want ready access to the book, or who desire it for their own collection would be more willing to pay such a price for an out of print book.

Down here in Yee Haw Land, where much of the content of the libraries is given over to Danielle Steel and books of that sort, it would only be likely to be found in the main branch of the municipal Houston library (in hard to access downtown) and in perhaps the comprehensive collection at the music school at Rice (unavailable to normal folks).

In any event, finding the old, rare and out of print book is a lot more simple these days, with the advent of the Internet. You pays your money, you can take your pick...
 

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Bass sax was first. The baritone was the first saxophone that looked like the modern saxophone. The Eb baritone was called a tenor at first.

Recent research suggests that the first (bass) saxophone might have been in Bb (See Robert Howe's article in the American Musical Instrument Society Journal, 2003). However, Sax's earliest price lists show the bass saxophone in C so often that It's difficult to tell for sure.

My MYSPACE site:

http://www.myspace.com/saxpsychosis
 

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saxtek said:
Recent research suggests that the first (bass) saxophone might have been in Bb (See Robert Howe's article in the American Musical Instrument Society Journal, 2003). However, Sax's earliest price lists show the bass saxophone in C so often that It's difficult to tell for sure.

My MYSPACE site:

http://www.myspace.com/saxpsychosis
This may be a very dumb question, but is it possible to tell the key of the earliest Sax bass instrument from Berlioz's composition for it?
 

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Reedsplinter said:
This may be a very dumb question, but is it possible to tell the key of the earliest Sax bass instrument from Berlioz's composition for it?
I think Berlioz mentioned the bass sax in his orchestration treatise, I don't think he composed for it.
 

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I pulled this up from the internet: I can't vouch for its accuracy:

The first time that a bass saxophone was heard in a concert was on February 3rd, 1844. Berlioz himself had arranged his work "Chant Sacre", originally for voices, for a couple of instruments from the shop of Sax: "a high trumpet in B-Flat, a 'new kind of horn', a bugle, a clarinet, a bass clarinet, and finally a saxophone". We know that Adolphe Sax himself played the bass saxophone on this evening.
 

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You may be right.
But I don't think he wrote any original work for sax.

In Stephen Douglas Burton's "Orchestration" he says of the saxophone;

"...it has been used in a number of works since 1844 and is in compositions by Saint-Saëns, Debussy, Berg, Britten, and many other...."
He doesn't mention Berlioz.

Is the arrangement of "Chant Sacré" still around?
That would be a good way to find the key of the first bass sax.
 

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There seems to be a lot of incomplete information around. Here's another internet riff -- but this one seems to come ultimately from a book. If I could be certain it was a hardback book and not a paperback, I'd know for sure whether it's true: :D

While still in Brussels, Sax met Berlioz, and it was no doubt the composer who persuaded him to try his luck in Paris. He arrived with 30 francs to his name, a few specimens of his instruments, and monumental determination. He established a workshop with borrowed capital and began turning out wind instruments. But in spite of having such influential friends as Meyerbeer, Halevy, Donizetti, and of course Berlioz, Sax could not break into the Paris market. Men who had been supplying the opera and other orchestras for generations took a dim view of the young Belgian upstart who believed his instruments to be on a par with their own. The musicians in these orchestras, many of whom were business partners of instrument makers, were scarcely more sympathetic. Meyerbeer and Donizetti were obliged to abandon their plans to include certain of Sax's instruments in their opera scores.


Sax next invited musicians to little performances to stimulate their interest in his instruments. One such occasion was organized for Feb. 3, 1844, at the Salle Herz and was to include a piece specially written by Berlioz for Sax's instruments. Featured were to be a B-flat trumpet, a cornet, an "improved bugle" (saxhorn), a clarinet, a bass clarinet, and a saxophone. The saxophone was unfortunately not quite finished when the appointed day arrived, and had to be patched together with string and sealing wax. Each instrument had its moment in Berlioz's little composition-last of all the saxophone, which had never been heard publicly in Paris. Sax was so preoccupied with whether or not his instrument would hold out that he temporarily forgot the score and was forced to sustain a single note at great length and with many delicate nuances of tone until his memory returned. The audience was delighted with the display, and the saxophone solo brought great applause.

© 1975 - 1981 by David Wallechinsky & Irving Wallace
Reproduced with permission from "The People's Almanac" series of books.
All rights reserved.
 

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Despite having some research work of my own once published in one of their many books (and I even got a whole $50.00 for my trouble - not too shabby back in 1982), I would look with a very skeptical eye at anything published by the Wallace/Wallechinski family. Their modus operendi has always been to gather up the works of others and then place it in a "collection" type book, with mass market light readers as their target audience.

Having said that, the above description mentions one of his other inventions (the saxhorn family, in this case probably talking about what we call a fluegelhorn) but gives short shrift to another. It is not "generally" known that he was the person who brought the bass clarinet, which prior to his work was a poorly scaled up soprano clarinet, into the modern form that we know today.

The double register key (manually operated at that point) and the properly spaced and sized tone holes were a result of his experimentation, and the metal neck was improved by him as well. (The design of the bell was still "up in the air" at that point, and there is mention of a straight bell with a "reflector" in some of the reference stuff.

While the saxophone is the most identified of his "inventions", the bass clarinet is far more widely accepted. And, having once "blown" on an antique bass from the pre-Sax days, I am certainly glad that it happened.
 
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