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What Is Solo Saxophone?

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  • Written By: A. Leverkuhn
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 26 March 2014
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Solo saxophone music is music where the saxophone performs without the accompaniment of other instruments or voices. This type of saxophone music is in direct contrast to conventional band saxophone, where the saxophone is a single instrument in a more complex instrumentation. Some people would consider solo saxophone to be similar to a capella where human voices provide music with no other instrumentation. In solo saxophone music, it’s the saxophone, and not the voice, that stands alone.

The saxophone is a brass horn in the woodwind family of instruments; it is usually a single reed instrument, although some saxophones or similar horns can have double reeds. Many saxophones used in solo saxophone music, as well as band music, are in the key of C, though some of these instruments may be manufactured in the key of F.

The saxophone is a popular instrument in big band music of the twentieth century, as well as various kinds of jazz music. Even many bands and artists in the rock and roll genre use a saxophone as an accompaniment to drums, bass, guitars, and voice, as well as other rock instruments like the keyboard. Solo saxophone is very different from these. It requires a different presentation and appeals to a different audience.

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Solo saxophone has some particular challenges as a type of performance music. Those who are playing this kind of music face challenges in that they do not have the rhythmic backing of other band saxophone presentations. Also, musicians may face issues with acoustics for the solo saxophone. In general, the sound of the saxophone is louder than many unamplified string instruments, and may not be suitable for smaller venues.

Some of the techniques used in solo saxophone or sax playing involve using the natural power of this instrument to compensate for the lack of background music. Many music aficionados agree that the saxophone has a vibrant, full sound that actually allows for achieving a quality reminiscent of the human voice. Experienced saxophonists can use a variety of riffs and flourishes to enhance a solo piece. Although there is a market and a genre for solo sax music, most people still recognize this instrument better as a great accompaniment to a rhythm track with other string and woodwind instruments.

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