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C melody saxophone

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The C melody saxophone is a saxophone pitched in the key of C, one whole step above the tenor saxophone. The C melody saxophone was part of the series of saxophones pitched in C and F, intended by the instrument's inventor, Adolphe Sax, for orchestral use. It is no longer produced; since 1930, only saxophones in the key of B♭ and E♭ (originally intended by Sax for use in military bands and wind ensembles) have been produced.

The C melody saxophone was marketed from the late 1910s through the early 1930s as a version of the saxophone intended for amateur use, in homes, schools, and town bands. It was made with a bore considerably narrower than that of the B♭ tenor saxophone, being more or less a "stretched" version of the alto saxophone bore. One selling point was the fact that the player could read regular music in the key of C (such as that for flute, oboe, piano, or voice) without having to transpose or read music parts that have been transposed into B♭ or E♭, as most other saxophones would require. This enabled amateur musicians to play along with a friend or family member by reading off of the same sheet of music. A second selling point was that the C melody produces a smaller, quieter tone than the E♭ alto or B♭ tenor. Many novelty tunes, most influenced by 1920s dance music, were written specifically for the instrument.

By the late 1920s, however, it had faded dramatically in popularity. Sales of all saxophones fell after the U.S. stock market crash of October 1929, and the C melody was one of several models that were terminated from production soon after. In the 1960s, Vito produced a few C-Melody saxophones, it is thought less than 20.

Some early jazz players got their start on the C melody, including Benny Carter and Coleman Hawkins, though Carter eventually moved to the alto, and Hawkins to the B♭ tenor. The most famous C melody player was Rudy Weidoeft. Although he played alto and soprano saxophones as well (the latter in ensembles with Arnold Brilhart, Alford Evans, and others), he made his most famous recordings on the C melody, and was a significant factor in the saxophone craze that resulted in so many C melody instruments being sold in the 1920s. Another famous C melody player was Frankie Trumbauer, a jazz player who was known for his superb technical ability on the instrument, if not for his skills at jazz improvisation.

A few modern-day saxophonists occasionally perform on C melody instruments, including Anthony Braxton, Scott Robinson, Rick Arbuckle, and Joe Lovano.

Despite the fact that they have not been manufactured in over 75 years, C melody saxophones are readily available today, due to their limited use and the sheer number that were produced in the early 20th century. They can be found at stores that carry used instruments; at tag sales and rummage sales; and at pawn shops across United States of America.

[edit] Related and new instruments

  • Another saxophone pitched in C, called the contralto saxophone, has been produced by California instrument maker Jim Schmidt since the late 1990s.[1] It is a modern design and differs from the vintage C melody instruments in several ways, most notably its fingering system.
  • A New Zealand company called Aquilasax announced plans in 2006 to begin producing a new "C-melody tenor saxophone" in 2007.[2]

[edit] External links

This article was started using a Wikipedia melody saxophone article
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