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Baritone saxophone

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The baritone saxophone is one of the larger and lower pitched members of the saxophone family. It was invented by Adolphe Sax. The baritone is distinguished from smaller sizes of saxophone by the extra loop near its mouthpiece; this helps to keep the instrument at a practical height (the rare bass saxophone has a similar, but larger loop).

The baritone saxophone (often called "bari sax," to avoid confusion with the baritone horn, which is often referred to simply as "baritone") is the largest saxophone commonly seen in modern ensembles. The other three are the alto, tenor and soprano. It is a transposing instrument in the key of E-flat, one octave lower than the alto saxophone, although Adolphe Sax had originally also produced a baritone saxophone in F intended for orchestral use. Despite its low register, music for the baritone saxophone is written in treble clef. It is also possible to read parts written in the bass clef for instruments pitched in C as if the part was in the treble clef, while adjusting the key signature from C to E-flat and any accidentals as necessary. This is often useful for reading tuba or trombone parts in songs without a written baritone saxophone part.

The baritone saxophone is used in classical music (particularly in the saxophone quartet, of which it is a member), but composers have rarely called for it in orchestral music (examples include Richard Strauss' Symphonia Domestica, composed in 1902-03; Béla Bartók's Wooden Prince ballet music, Charles Ives' Symphony no. 4, composed in 1910-16, and Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue and An American in Paris), and it has a comparatively small solo repertoire. It has, however, been an important part of military bands, concert bands, jazz bands, wind ensembles and is common in show music, especially those of the more "jazzy" type, e.g. Anything Goes, Mack and Mabel, Chicago. In concert bands, it often plays a part similar to that of the tuba. The baritone player usually plays rather simple rhythms in order to maintain the musical pulse of the group. Often, this consists of quarter notes on beats one and three in 4/4 time. In big bands, the role of the baritone player usually involves doubling with the bass trombone, bass, or first alto saxophone. (The saxophone section of a standard jazz band contains two altos, two tenors, and a baritone.) The baritone player is usually expected to double on bass clarinet.

The exceptional weight of the instrument (13-14 pounds or 6.5 kg), as compared to the other three commonly used sizes of saxophone, makes it difficult to use in marching bands. Baritone saxophone players in marching groups often use a special harness that distributes the weight of the instrument onto the player's back instead of around his neck, as is the conventional way of supporting the instrument. But the baritone saxophone can still be used in a marching band with the standard neckstrap. Its reed size is notably large, twice that of an alto saxophone reed and noticeably larger than that used by the tenor saxophone.

The fingerings for all of the instruments in the saxophone family are essentially the same and many players play more than one saxophone. The baritone saxophone, however, is the only member of the saxophone family which often possesses a "low A" key (sounding concert C, the same pitch as the lowest note on the cello), whereas most other saxophones descend only to a fingered B♭, though altos and basses have been manufactured with low A keys, and Benedikt Eppelsheim now makes a contrabass saxophone with one; (sounding pitch depending on the key of the particular instrument).

[edit] Notable performers

Although few classical saxophonists perform exclusively on the baritone saxophone, a number of jazz performers have used it as their primary instrument. The baritone is an important instrument in the big band, being the largest size of saxophone used in that ensemble (although the bass saxophone was occasionally used up to the 1940s). One of the pioneers was Duke Ellington's longtime baritone player, Harry Carney, who played both accompanying bass lines as well as exuberant solos and improvisations.

Since the mid-1950s, master baritone saxophone soloists such as Gerry Mulligan, Cecil Payne, and Pepper Adams achieved fame, and Serge Chaloff was the first player of the instrument to achieve fame as a bebop soloist.

More recent notable performers include Hamiet Bluiett (who also plays bass saxophone), John Surman (who doubles on soprano), Scott Robinson (who doubles on many other instruments), James Carter (who doubles on many other instruments), Stephen "Doc" Kupka of the band "Tower of Power",Nick Brignola, Gary Smulyan, and Ronnie Cuber. New York "avant-garde/downtown" saxophonists Andy Laster and Tim Berne have occasionally played baritone. A noted British performer is Joe Temperley (actually a Scotsman), who has appeared with Humphrey Lyttelton as well as with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra. Temperley also plays soprano saxophone and bass clarinet. Atsushi Yanaka, the baritone saxophonist of the Japanese group Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra, is widely regarded as the best baritone saxophone player in ska music.Template:Fact

Prominent baritone saxophonists in contemporary American popular music include David Bowie,[1] Dana Colley of Morphine, Skerik of Critters Buggin, Clarence Clemons and John Linnell of They Might Be Giants. Linnell and Colley also play bass saxophone on occasion. Many saxophonists also play a baritone on occasion including Clarence ClemonsTemplate:Fact and David Sanborn.Template:Fact

[edit] Trivia

  • In the 1970s, a jazz band called the Baritone Saxophone Retinue consisted of between six and ten baritone saxophones, backed up by a rhythm section. A similar group, the International Baritone Conspiracy, which featured six baritones, was formed in the 1990s.
  • American jazz baritone saxophonist Hamiet Bluiett leads the Bluiett Baritone Nation (formerly called the Bluiett Baritone Saxophone Group), a saxophone quartet made up entirely of baritone saxophones, with drum set accompaniment.
  • Nigerian Afrobeat singer, musician, and bandleader Fela Kuti typically featured two baritone saxophone players in his band (most American jazz big bands feature only one).
  • In the 1985 documentary film Bring on the Night, Branford Marsalis discusses how much he disliked playing the baritone saxophone while on tour in Europe with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers during the summer of 1980.
  • Lisa Simpson, a character in the cartoon television show The Simpsons, appears to play the baritone saxophone.
  • Although many marching bands choose not to use the instrument due to its weight and unwieldiness, the University of Arizona's marching band, The Pride of Arizona, has been marching anywhere between three and ten baritone saxophones each year since 1999.
This article was started using a Wikipedia saxophone article
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