Show Summary Details

Page of

Printed from Oxford Music Online. Grove is a registered trademark. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a single article for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 10 April 2021

Saxophone (Fr. saxophone; Ger. Saxophon; It. sassofone)locked

  • Claus Raumberger
  •  and Karl Ventzke


(Fr. saxophone; Ger. Saxophon; It. sassofone)

A single-reed wind instrument invented by the Belgian-born maker Adolphe Sax (see Sax family family) in about 1840, and granted a 15-year patent in 1846. Sax originally intended the instrument for use in orchestras and military bands. The saxophone combines a single-reed mouthpiece with a wide-bore conical tube of metal. Acoustically, it behaves as do other cone-bodied reed instruments, ‘overblowing’ at the octave to yield a second register (see Acoustics, §IV, 6).

In the Hornbostel-Sachs classification the saxophone is classed as a clarinet.

The saxophone has a conical body providing a resonating air column, widening out in the ratio of about 1:5·5, expanding at the open end into a small flare (bell). In the 19th century and sometimes the 20th the tube was often parabolic in shape, but nearly all saxophones are now made with a straight cone. The instrument has 22 to 24 relatively large note-holes (each being between 40% and 60% of the respective diameter of the bore). In addition, there are two smaller holes for overblowing, the one closer to the mouthpiece coming into operation from ...

You do not currently have access to this article


Please login to access the full content.


Please subscribe to access the full content.

Revue belge de musicologie
Galpin Society Journal