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National Saxophone Day is celebrated on November 6, on the birthday of Antoine-Joseph ‘Adolphe’ Sax, the inventor of the saxophone. This soulful instrument has a rich history and musical range. We love the saxophone and what it brings to both the classical- and jazz music worlds. This incredibly unique musical invention is the only instrument to be created by solely one person as well as being the woodwind family’s only brass instrument. Through the ages, the saxophone has a long legacy for its contributions to music by the likes of classical saxophonist Marcel Mule and the famous jazz musician Charlie Parker to name a few.
History of National Saxophone Day
Adolphe Sax invented the saxophone in 1841 and patented it in 1846. Born in Dinant, now known as Belgium, this Belgian inventor is also famously known for his several near-death experiences in his childhood. To name a few, he survived falling down three flights of stairs, a gunpowder explosion, and swallowing pins in watered-down sulphuric acid thinking it was milk!
Despite all these misfortunes, he lived to invent the saxophone, which would become a great modern contribution to the music world. Having studied the flute and the clarinet, Sax invented many musical instruments before the saxophone. He created various ‘sax’ brass instruments including the saxtuba, saxotromba, and the saxhorn. However, these instruments never received the same popularity in the musical community as the saxophone did and quickly faded into non-existence.
Sax’s dream for the saxophone was for it to perform low to high ranges in an orchestra. He originally created 14 different-sized counterparts, from sopranino to contrabass to provide a spectrum of musical notes. The saxophone underwent many changes to its design over time, and not just by its inventor. When Sax’s patent expired in 1866, Millereau Co. created and patented a version of the saxophone with a forked F sharp key and Goumas patented one with the clarinet-inspired Boehm fingering system.
Later, in 1881, Sax extended his original patent and made some adjustments to expand the instrument’s octave range to include B flat, A, F flat, and G. Today, only four of the 14 saxophones created by its inventor are used, the soprano, the alto, the tenor, and the baritone. The saxophone never made it into classical orchestra, due to it being invented much later than the violin and piano. In 1914, the saxophone became prominently placed in jazz bands inspiring many classic songs and dances.
National Saxophone Day timeline
Antoine-Joseph ‘Adolphe’ Sax invents the saxophone and shares his invention with fellow classical-music colleague Hector Berlioz.
Sax’s musical instrument sees such success in Europe that the saxophone makes it across the Atlantic where Ferdinand August ‘Gus’ Buescher builds the first saxophone in the U.S.
The saxophone was invented for classical music, but it gains more popularity in the jazz community and begins its legacy as a prominent part of jazz and blues bands.
After Adolphe's death, his son, Adolphe Edouard, takes over the family business and later sells the Sax factory to the Henri Selmer Company.
National Saxophone Day FAQs
Where can I learn to play the saxophone?
The saxophone is still a popular musical instrument of choice to learn to play. There are four different types of saxophone: baritone, alto, soprano, and tenor, providing varying musical ranges. Look for tutors or music academies in your local area online or in community centers.
How do I maintain my saxophone?
Good saxophone maintenance is crucial to enjoying and meeting the musical demands of any sheet music. A common saxophone issue is the reed or reed seals — these should be checked in the first instance. Visit a saxophone diagnose-and-repair store for this and other issues you might face with the wear and tear of your instrument.
Where can I find live jazz music?
Want to liven up your evening or a unique date night experience? Why not try your local clubs and bars and find out if or when they have live bands scheduled for entertainment. You would be surprised what your usual hangout spots do during their quieter nights or you might find a new venue you may never have noticed before.
National Saxophone Day Activities
Plan a magical date
Take a special someone for a musical date night to a live jazz bar or concert. Not only is this a unique and cultural experience, but it’s a great way to enjoy food and drink while listening and swaying to the rhythms and emotions that the saxophone contributes to jazz and blues music.
Dance yourself fit to either a ‘jazzercise’ choreographed number or tap dance to a soulful jazz masterpiece. Exercise dance classes are becoming more and more popular as a fun and creative way to burn calories and improve your overall fitness.
Play the blues
Learning to play the saxophone not only adds to your list of talents but also makes a great conversation starter. Already know how to play? Why not join a local jazz or blues band and play some of the popular classics or create new ones.
Key Notes Of The Saxophone
The one and only
Not only is the saxophone the only brass wind instrument, but it is also the only musical instrument invented by one person.
The saxophone has the widest range of woodwind instruments, including the ability to closely mimic the human voice, making it an excellent addition for emotional music pieces.
Not just for jazz
Today, the saxophone is best known for its contributions to jazz and blues music, as well as for its classical-music beginnings and contributions.
Bridging the gap
This single instrument was created to provide a tonal balance between the brass- and woodwind families.
Music appreciation through television
“The Muppet Show’s” character Zoot was named and inspired by the famous saxophone players Zoot Sims and Gato Barbieri.
Why we love National Saxophone Day
Setting the ambiance
The saxophone’s contribution to music can elevate the mood of any room. Why not listen to an upbeat lounge number like ‘Why Don’t You Do Right’ sung by Peggy Lee or unwind with the melodic deep tones of Louis Armstrong’s ‘What a Wonderful World.’
Put on your dancing shoes and dance to a range of jazz- and blues songs and let the saxophone’s upbeat and fun rhythms take you to a lively music era. Learn the steps of famous dances through time including the Charleston, the Lindy Hop, and the jitterbug from the 1920s, and the feet-flying swing and Boogie Woogie from the 1940s.
The younger generation may think that the saxophone’s contribution to jazz and blues music only extends to the 1940s and has no place in today’s music but they would be wrong as the saxophone is used in many modern chart hits. The saxophone appears in many memorable saxophone solos such as ‘I Will Always Love You’ sung by Whitney Houston in the 1990s and ‘The Edge of Glory’ by Lady Gaga in the 2010s.
National Saxophone Day dates