The Flexible Alto Sax in Different Musical Genres

The Alto Saxophone is a flexible woodwind instrument that can be used in different type of applications in the music world. It is smaller than that of the tenor sax but bigger than that of the soprano sax; the alto sax was originally used in many classical compositions. Classical saxophonist such as Marcel Mule, Eugene Rousseau, and Sigurd Raschèr used this instrument to give a hauntingly beautiful rendition of many classical compositions. These advanced players were masters of the alto sax altissimo which is difficult to manipulate. It was Richard Strauss who popularized the sax in his rendition of the Sinfonia Domestica.

Yet it was not classical music but it was jazz who popularize the use of the alto sax. The most astounding musicians of jazz such as Charlie Parker demonstrated the use of this instrument in the emerging world of jazz. Kenny Garett followed through with this instrument. Soon a host of jazz artists were using the alto sax. To name a few jazz artists who were fond of the alto saxophone were Johnny Hodges, Cannonball Adderley, Art Pepper, Eric Dolphy, Lee Konitz, Sonny Stitt, Ornette Coleman, David Sanborn, Anthony Braxton, Paul Desmond, Greg Osby, Phil Woods, John Zorn, and Jackie McLean. It seems that jazz favoured this instrument for its musical expression with its ability to kick off casual memories in the minds of the hearers. There is a silent longing expressed in jazz and this silent longing is combined with the casualness of everyday life. This instrument is able to bring out the poignant is what is otherwise commonplace in people, events, and life circumstances.

The alto saxophone was only a secondary instrument in classical music as the piano and the violin are the favourite instruments of classical music. However, Jazz put the alto saxophone as the primary instrument that can express the deepest desires of the jazz genre. However it was the blues that gave alto saxophone the ability to connect with the audience even if was done solo. In jazz, the alto saxophone can be the principal instrument but only in accompaniment with other instruments. However the blues can be done by a single instrument of the alto sax alone.

Soon the alto sax was to be identified as a blues genre icon where one can elicit memories of listening to a solo sax player and crying one’s heart out. The blues gave the alto sax the power to go it all alone while reaching out to the audience with its expressions of intolerable sadness. There are instances when it is better to sing the blues with a single sax alone than with any other instrument.

However the resilience of the alto saxophone does not end with the blues. Soon we can see rock stars doing the instrument. Funk brought in the kaleidoscopic character of the sax. Pop music never underestimated the power of the sax. Soon love songs were all accompanied by the sax. Of marching bands are incomplete without it.

The other types of saxophones are the tenor and the soprano.