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The Central Coast Philharmonia

Rare Saxophones: High Saxophones

Curved Soprano Saxophones & Straight Tenors
As well as the normal straight soprano saxophones in Bb and C, there are also soprano saxophones which are not straight, but curved, like alto saxophones. Evidence shows that the Bb Curved Soprano Saxophone may have been closer to the original soprano sax design by Adolphe Sax. While the key and the pitches are the same on both the straight and the curved versions, the sound is wildly different. Curved sopranos loose a bit of the brightness that straight sopranos have and gain a degree of tinted classical smoothness, more characteristic of a classical alto sound, or an F-Mezzo-Soprano Sax. Genesis will feature both types of sopranos in the piece Celestial Equinox; in this piece, the first soprano sax solo will be on a straight soprano, and the second on a curved soprano. There has also been a straight tenor saxophone made, that is one lacking a bend. Still composers other than Adam Gilberti have not frequently called specifically for curved or straight versions of these instruments, and it is yet another untapped resource for composers and orchestrators.

Sopranino Saxophone The Eb Sopranino Saxophone is the smallest saxophone originally designed, and up to just very recently, was the highest saxophone invented. It sounds exactly an octave above alto sax, and can also be straight or curved. Sopraninos tend to be unpredictable, and challenging to play, yet in the hands of a good player can be incredibly agile and responsive. The sopranino takes on a smooth oboe-like timbre quality which can possibly be described as a cross between a soprano sax and an oboe. The upper range is more smooth and less shrill than the piccolo, or the Eb clarinet, or other instruments that get up to those notes. Different than all other saxes, its very rare and unique voice can be both an excellent top and a striking solo voice in an ensemble. The second movement of Four Poems on the Genesis concert program will feature extended solos on a curved sopranino saxophone.

Soprillio Saxophone
There has also recently been the creation of a Bb Sopranissimo (also called Bb Soprillo) Saxophone. This brand new extension of the saxophone family, brought to inception by the Eppilsheim company, is pitched a full octave above the soprano sax. Being a brand new instrument, very few people own them as of yet, but they are expected to gain popularity in the near future. For more info on the soprillo saxophone, check out: http://www.eppelsheim.com/eppelsheim-blasinstrumente.html.


Learn more about other Special Instruments

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