Instrument of the Year 2019: Saxophone

The following was written by our intern from Spain, Carmen Álvarez (English below):

Cada año, en Alemania, un intrumento tiene el honor de ser elegido el instrumento del año, y en 2019 el turno ha sido para el saxofón.

Inventado a principios de la década de 1840 por Adolph Sax, la teoría más extendida sobre su creación es que Sax, que tocaba el clarinete, pretendía encontrar la forma de unir la fuerza de los instrumentos de metal con las propiedades acústicas que poseen los de madera.

Aunque es un instrumento muy joven, si lo comparamos con el resto de instrumentos de la orquesta, el saxofón se ha ganado su espacio como el instrumento más emblemático del Jazz, es por ello que generalmente no se le asocia con la música académica y raramente comparte escenario con los instrumentos orquestales. A pesar de eso, cada vez son más los compositores que escriben piezas para saxofón, muchas de ellas con gran complejidad técnica.

En la base de datos de RISM ya contamos con 1935 resultados de búsqueda para “saxofono”, término que utilizamos para catalogar este instrumento. Además, es posible realizar una búsqueda más específica para encontrar piezas de un detarminado tipo de saxofón, usando esta terminología obtenemos los siguientes resultados:

- s-saxofono (soprano): 1049 piezas
- a-saxofono (alto): 600 piezas
- t-saxofono (tenor): 1556 piezas
- bariton-saxofono (barítono): 1271 piezas

Desde nuestra base de datos también se puede acceder a fuentes digitalizadas, en el caso de este instrumento, ya son 32 los archivos digitales que aparecen. Entre ellos encontramos fuentes musicales de todo tipo: desde piezas de música contemporánea hasta arreglos de obras clásicas que fueron escritas antes de la invención del saxofón. Esperamos que pronto sean muchas más!

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Every year, in Germany, an instrument has the honor of being chosen as the instrument of the year, and in 2019 this recognition goes to the saxophone.

Invented in the early 1840s by Adolf Sax, the most widespread theory about its creation is that Sax, who played the clarinet, wanted to find a way to unite the strength of the brass instruments with the acoustical properties of the woodwind family.

Even though it is a relatively new instrument when compared to the rest of the orchestra, the saxophone has achieved a name for itself as the most emblematic instrument in jazz. It is for this reason that it is generally difficult to imagine it in the academic world and it rarely shares a stage with the other orchestral instruments. In spite of this, there are more and more composers who write pieces for saxophone, many of them with a high degree of technical difficulty.

In the RISM database, we already have 1,935 results for “saxofono”, the term we use to catalog this instrument. Moreover, it is possible to search in a more advanced way and to find pieces that include a specific type of saxophone. Using this terminology we have the following results:

- s-saxofono (soprano): 1,049 pieces
- a-saxofono (alto): 600 pieces
- t-saxofono (tenor): 1,556 pieces
- bariton-saxofono (baritone): 1,271 pieces

In our database it is also possible to find digitized sources: in the case of the saxophone, there are already 32 digitized items. Among them, we can find musical sources of all kinds: from pieces of contemporary music to arrangements of classical works that were written before the saxophone was invented. We hope to have many more soon!

Image: “Vier Saxophone,” 1928.
Landesarchiv Baden-Württemberg: Staatsarchiv Freiburg, Sammlung Willy Pragher I: Glasplattennegative. CC-BY. From Europeana.

 

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All news entries are by the RISM Central Office staff unless otherwise noted. Reuse of RISM's own texts is permitted under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License—though please note that image credits and permissions are usually separate and noted at the bottom of each post. If authorship is attributed to someone else (indicated at the start of an entry and/or by a name following the word "Contact"), please contact the individual authors.