Robert Greenberg

Historian, Composer, Pianist, Speaker, Author

Archive for Adolphe Sax

Music History Monday: Adolphe Sax

On June 28, 1846 – 175 years ago today – Adolphe Sax patented the saxophone family as a group of eight (not seven, as is often erroneously stated) instruments. Of these eight “saxophones”, four remain in common use today: the soprano and tenor saxophones, both pitched in B-flat, and the alto and baritone saxophones, both pitched in E-flat. The invention of the saxophone was a stunning achievement. Never before or since has a single individual created an entirely new family of instruments. That’s Not Funny! In the musical world there are all sorts of jokes (nasty jokes!) that are considered stereotypically appropriate for the sorts of people that play certain instruments. Most common are viola jokes. That’s not because there’s anything inherently funny about violas or the people who play them but because violists tend to be naturally supportive, genuinely nice people, people who will usually will not fight back when joshed but rather, will smile a melancholy smile, roll their eyes, and shake their heads. Question: what’s the difference between a viola and a coffin? Answer: with the coffin, the dead person is on the inside. No respect. But other instruments and their players have their own jokes as […]

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