- Stephen Cottrell
Term denoting several different single-reed aerophones. The most common type comprises a simple keyless reedpipe, in which one end is cut away at an angle to accommodate a large single reed. The reed is attached over the cut portion by a ligature and rests on the lower lip in performance. Six to eight fingerholes and a left-hand thumbhole are burned or drilled into the bamboo to provide a simple diatonic fingering pattern. Chromatic notes are achieved through cross fingerings or occasional half-holing. Notwithstanding the descriptor ‘saxophone’, almost certainly used for marketing purposes, the coupling of a large single reed with a cylindrical pipe means that such instruments are technically clarinets. Their sound lies somewhere between the clarinet’s and the Armenian duduk’s, and they have been used in film scores to emphasize exotic or ‘ethnic’ themes. An injection-moulded plastic version of the instrument has become known as the ‘pocket saxophone’. A less common type uses short bamboo sections of increasing diameter, glued end to end to create a conical-bore instrument that looks and behaves more like a conventional saxophone. Mouthpieces tend to vary, but in other respects, including fingering, the instrument resembles the first type; however, some examples have one or two added keys. The range of the instrument is up to two octaves, with the upper octave achieved by opening the thumbhole or overblowing other fingerings....