I had never been too inspired by the sound of the saxophone. I always liked the sound of it, I confess, but I was not keen about Jazz, and the seemly intrinsic relation between Jazz and saxophones was enough for me not to pay further attention to it. I have always been a fan of Pink Floyd, and the saxophone plays a vital role in several of its songs. The most evident is Money. And it was because of Pink Floyd – better David Gilmour – that I finally became enamored with the instrument. I still remember the first time I heard Red Sky at Night. Soon after I bought my first sax. A tenor.
It is interesting, the tenor in singing has that annoying, quasi dull and very common voice. Who wants to sing a tenor sing? Certainly a baritone or a bass will do much better, nothing like a low, bold, and thick voice. The same goes to women, contraltos sound much better than sopranos almost always. Saxophones do not follow the pattern. There is some kind of shift there. The (contr)alto sax is the most common, and naturally the most plain and vulgar of the family. The tenor, on the other hand, has that bold, thick sound, which is actually what makes the sax to be such a sexy instrument. The baritone is too low, “as if I was blowing into a firefighter hose,” someone said. The soprano has its charm too, but then I prefer the clarinet. The fact that the tenor goes so well with blues also gives me another reason to prefer it over all the others.
The instrument itself is heavy, and naturally clumsy. Not even experienced saxophonists really know how to hold it. But the shiny lacquer lures even the toughest of the stoics. Such a beautiful instrument. The long and angled neck, the keys mechanism, the tone holes, and the curve that ends up in the bell; no doubt, a lusty instrument. Who cares about clumsiness? Finally, the saxophone brings another particular, almost unique characteristic: who learns sax learns to improvise. It's more than learning to play the instrument, or musical theory, it is learning to compose on the fly. This certainly gives another dimension to the process of playing saxophone, and it definitely adds a very tempting characteristic for those who are still deciding which instrument to play.