Sax on the Web Forum banner

1 - 20 of 111 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,431 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I play clarinet, alto and tenor sax. I recently got myself a soprano sax, (nice Christmas present). I'm interested in how members might describe the sound/tone of the soprano sax. Because my wife can't stand the higher range of the sop, I'm concentrating on the low "Bb" to second "G" range. It has a special sound to my ears, quite different that my alto or tenor sound, and not much like my clarinet sound. I started this thread because I thought forum members would notice and put forward some ideas of this sound.
I'm not a pro player, that's for sure...just curious.
Thanks for your ideas.:|
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Coffee Guru
Joined
·
38,850 Posts
I am not quite sure what you are asking.

The soprano sax has certainly some common traits with the Oboe family, in particular the Cor Anglais .

If you compare THAT sound with the soprano saxophone, you see how they are similar but the cor anglais has an edgier and more “ reedy” and nasal sound which, in truth, is sometimes how some people play the soprano.

If you look at how complex the oboe cor anglais is , it is easy to follow the thought process which gave origin to the saxophones in the mind of A.Sax. He wanted to create easier to play instruments ( compared to an oboe or all the other double reeds) which would be able to rival in sound volume with the typical brass instruments in a military marching band ( better than clarinets ).


This was the first use of the instruments although almost immediately many “ modern” composers took to use the saxophone because of its more modern sound but more or less placing them in the range of several double reeds.


for the second video you can close your eyes and think that you are listening to saxophones, though different the similarities are obvious.











also now compare the same piece played with soprano and Oboe


 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,431 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
Thank you, milandro! What a wonderful smorgasbord of musical sounds you've brought to me! To my ears, the Cor Anglais comes closest to the sound I hear from my soprano in the low to mid range. Yes, it's a "reedy" sound. The sop has a softer tone, I think. It's difficult to put into words, hence my original question. You give me a good answer in providing these vids. I often see threads describing woodwind sounds. Some of the words used: a full sound; a centered tone; an edgy sound; a hard sound, etc. I wonder what word describes the soprano sax sound the best? Hard to say, there are so many different mouthpiece/reed combinations. I'm playing on a curvy which probably gives a different sound to the player than a straight.
Thanks again, for sharing some of your "cherries"!
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member/Logician
Joined
·
25,981 Posts
In regard to the low end on soprano, I'm there quite a bit with what I'm doing these days with a New Orleans styled brass band. What's different about our group is that on most gigs, we have alto and soprano saxophone amongst the brass; not tenor. When we harmonize, it's usually the alto player that takes the higher notes, and I'll go lower. Sure, I'll sail above up top for certain riffs and lines, but most of my harmonic playing is down low on soprano. And yeah, it's a great "reedy" sound and gives our sax section a different flavor.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,017 Posts
The soprano sound that seems to be characteristic of "new age jazz" or "smooth jazz" to me has a "nasal" quality. The tárogató which is a wooden conical single reed instrument closely related to the straight soprano saxophone can have either a beautiful sound or when played in certain ethnic music a sound that makes you want to leave the room. This is an example of how beautiful a tárogató can sound.



Michael Stephenson of the New Century Saxophone Quartet demonstrates how beautiful a soprano saxophone can sound in a classical setting.

 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,431 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
In regard to the low end on soprano, I'm there quite a bit with what I'm doing these days with a New Orleans styled brass band. What's different about our group is that on most gigs, we have alto and soprano saxophone amongst the brass; not tenor. When we harmonize, it's usually the alto player that takes the higher notes, and I'll go lower. Sure, I'll sail above up top for certain riffs and lines, but most of my harmonic playing is down low on soprano. And yeah, it's a great "reedy" sound and gives our sax section a different flavor.
Thanks, Grumps! For me, it's the low register I like best.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,431 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
More beautiful sounds! Thanks, saxoclese! I still love the low end of soprano. The higher notes seem thin, even when played by masters. But, then again, maybe my computer speaker doesn't do justice to these great players. The alto player in this quartet has a sound I love, even like the soprano. Classic stuff!
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Coffee Guru
Joined
·
38,850 Posts
I wonder what word describes the soprano sax sound the best? Hard to say, there are so many different mouthpiece/reed combinations. I'm playing on a curvy which probably gives a different sound to the player than a straight.
I played with great pleasure a Curved Yanagisawa clone , a Bauhaus Walstein and loved the tome in combination with the Ponzol HR vintage 70. Now I have a Yamaha YSS 475 , a Keilwerth Toneking IV and a Selmer SA 80, and I like them all but I am favoring the YSS 475 because of the fact that it put less strain on my shoulders and neck due to the fact that someone has curved its “ neck” (like in the higher series R of the Yamaha sopranos).

I don’t think that there is one soprano sound, so it is difficult to describe.

I personally prefer warm and rond soprano sound.

One of the best is played by a SOTW member , Aldevis. If and when I think of my ideal sound he would come very high on top of the list.

I couldn’t find on line a piece which exemplifies this sound as much as I have heard on some of his CD’s.


This one came closest b ut he doesn’t play much.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
120 Posts
" This instrument can fulfill an extremely valuable function in today's jazz. Like all saxophones, its range, with practice, can be increased beyond the normal limits to four full octaves. It is the only treble instrument able to be played percussively enough and with enough power and brilliance to fit into the stylistic demands of contemporary jazz. The lowest part of the soprano's range, which is right in the heart of the tenor saxophone range and quite similar to it in sound, can be played with extreme intensity. If the range of the horn is extended upwards to the extreme limit, the top notes are remarkably like those that Cat Anderson can produce. Between these two extremes a great diversity of colors are available, thereby making this instrument potentially one of extreme expressive power ".

From Steve Lacy - conversations
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,622 Posts
I really hate the reed nasal sound you sometimes hear on a soprano. Branford Marsalis has a nice round tone. I really like the sound and playing of Paul McCandless


 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member/Logician
Joined
·
25,981 Posts
The higher notes seem thin, even when played by masters.
Compared to alto, tenor and bari, the soprano saxophone is the hardest to get right. Hey, anyone can learn the fingerings of a saxophone. The hard part is getting it to sound like a saxophone. Generally, soprano takes a tighter lip, unless you want that Coltrane vibe, and where you really need a good lip is up top on the soprano; with good breath support from your diaphragm. Yeah... a lot of people might not like to take a soprano beyond the palm keys. But I'll tell ya... popping out a reliable A3 to rise above a brass band... well, that's what a soprano can do.

If you want to hear how I sound, here's a clip from a jam session in a house my band stayed in while down in New Orleans:
https://www.amazon.com/photos/share...d-H0_0M3g2K97jNde1h?tag=saxonthewebconvert-20
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
457 Posts
The sound I try to emulate on soprano is violin. I like some brightness to the sound, but rich and with a lot of control (as opposed to the sort of 'wide open' sound some players have). I don't care so much for the oboe-ish soprano tone, or a dark round one either, although sometimes these can sound good in the right context.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,431 Posts
Discussion Starter #14
Compared to alto, tenor and bari, the soprano saxophone is the hardest to get right. Hey, anyone can learn the fingerings of a saxophone. The hard part is getting it to sound like a saxophone. Generally, soprano takes a tighter lip, unless you want that Coltrane vibe, and where you really need a good lip is up top on the soprano; with good breath support from your diaphragm. Yeah... a lot of people might not like to take a soprano beyond the palm keys. But I'll tell ya... popping out a reliable A3 to rise above a brass band... well, that's what a soprano can do.

If you want to hear how I sound, here's a clip from a jam session in a house my band stayed in while down in New Orleans:
https://www.amazon.com/photos/share...d-H0_0M3g2K97jNde1h?tag=saxonthewebconvert-20
Hey, thanks Grumps! You have real control with the horn. And, yes, a BIG sound! I'm happy I don't need to rise above a brass band! Trio is my aim. Pno, bass and me. That said, I look forward to having the opportunity to play in a dixieland band, (my favourite style). Thanks again for your video.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,431 Posts
Discussion Starter #15
clarnut, (love the handle!), what a treat to hear Paul McCandless and "Charged Particles"! Thanks! A great sounding soprano player.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Coffee Guru
Joined
·
38,850 Posts
Another instrument ( at least in the medium to high register) which comes close to the soprano sound is the Lupophone

Obviously way more complex to build and play than a soprano saxophone, let alone way more expensive.


 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,431 Posts
Discussion Starter #17
Lupophone? Anything to do with wolves? What a strange woodwind! Double reed?
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Coffee Guru
Joined
·
38,850 Posts
yes, a bass oboe of sort. Similar to the Heckelphone but with lower notes.

These instruments are rare and very difficult to play ( which again shows the paradigm of though used by Sax when he invented the saxophone).

Conn introduced the Conn-O-Sax which wouldn have been in their intention a sax to work in this range.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
12,710 Posts
I dont know if Im in the minority (I probably am) but I can only listen to most sop work for a limited period of time. After that it begins to grate on my nerves.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member and Sax Historian
Joined
·
466 Posts
Great playing of the Lupophone. The Conn-0-Sax bears a striking similarity in tone and registration.
Paul Cohen
 
1 - 20 of 111 Posts
Top