Single-reed wind instrument with a conical metal tube and finger keys. Though made of brass, it is classified as a woodwind instrument. Its mouthpiece resembles that of the clarinet. The saxophone family includes instruments with at least eight different ranges, the tenor and alto instruments being the most common. The smallest (highest-range) saxophones are straight; the rest have curved necks and their bells are bent up and out. Transposing instruments (producing a higher or lower pitch than indicated in music written for it) in B-flat and E-flat, all have the same written 3-octave range. The saxophone was patented in 1846 by Adolphe Sax, who created two separate instrument families, for military and orchestral use respectively. Though few composers included saxophones in their orchestral scores, they became centrally important in military, dance, and jazz bands.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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