B-flat Soprano Saxophone

B-flat Soprano Saxophone

B-flat Soprano Saxophone range

This is the highest saxophone normally seen, and nowadays a quite common sight.  There was a time in the middle of the last century when the Soprano was doomed to extinction, but its fortune was changed by innovative jazz players.

Many people have an unfounded belief that this is a strident and pungent instrument, but I find that this to be anything but the case.  In the hands of a competent player, the Soprano Saxophone is a sweet and jovial instrument.  I have found its sound quite useful for pastoral settings and for bucolic folk tunes.  I highly suggest looking at the works of Percy Grainger, especially Lincolnshire Posy to see how he uses the instrument.  Grainger was a Soprano Saxophone player and had a real love for this instrument.  The third and sixth movements of this work are excellent examples of good writing for this instrument.

Sadly, most other composers of so-called “serious” concert music have neglected the Soprano.  I have found that it can mix well with all the other woodwinds.  With the Oboe, it strengthens the nasal quality.  With the clarinets, it adds an element of vibrato and punch.  With the flutes it is a calm, yet excited sound.  With the Bassoon it becomes almost mournful.

Most often, only one Soprano is used, but there is no reason why more cannot be employed.  Most professional saxophonists have a soprano in their possession.  For an interesting effect, why not have all the members of the section switch to Soprano?  Duets and trios are also quite lovely.

Philip Glass’ Violin Concerto on Soprano Saxophone.  I can’t tell you how much I love the timbre she gets on the instrument!

Villa-Lobos’ Fantasia for Soprano Saxophone and Orchestra

3rd Movement of Lincolnshire Posy by Grainger.  Version B has an extended solo for Soprano Saxophone.  Solo starts at 0:45.