E-flat Baritone Saxophone

Baritone Saxophone

Baritone Saxophone range

This is one of my favorite voices in the band, and probably the instrument that is most often over looked by all bandestrators.  The instrument is universally present in all bands, but who has really used it well?  I can think of no great moments for the Baritone Saxophone in the band literature with the exception of the second phrase of Grainger’s Children’s March where the Baritone Saxophone doubles the 2nd Bassoon and creates the sound of a whole new instrument.

All modern Baritone Saxophones now possess a low A extension, though many older instruments do not.  It is usually safe to write this note.  Why the other saxophones have not been extended to this note (which sounds as either a C or a G depending of the key of the instrument), I do not know?

Being a recovering marching band “Bari” player, I can attest to the volume that is capable on this instrument, and I am ashamed to say that I mistreated this noble instrument on many an occasion.  I wish to rectify this here.

The one thing that is missing in a band is a unifying bass sound.  In the orchestra we have the Cellos, but in the band we have Bass Clarinets, Bassoons, Baritone Saxophones, Euphoniums, etc.  Which of these sounds is most akin to the Cello?  For my money, it is the Baritone Saxophone.  They have the same range (both descend to the concert C below the bass clef), and their use of vibrato and expression is very similar.  Yet, it has never been attempted to wholly replace the Cellos with a small section of Baritone Saxophones.  It might make for an interesting experiment.

As a solo voice, it is full of expression and pathos.  Its upper register has a hollow and mournful voice.  Combinations with any of the double reeds are beautiful as are mixtures with the low clarinets.

Unlike the other four common members of the saxophone family, the Baritone Saxophone in F seems to be a mythical beast.  Either none were ever made, or those that were made never survived.

Karl Amadeus Hartmann’s Symphony 2 – Long Baritone Saxophone solo at 1:25.  It is the only time in the piece where the instrument plays.

Singleé’s Septieme Solo de Concert – one of the earliest solos for the saxophone.  This performance is done on all original Adolph Sax instruments (the Baritone Saxophone itself is from 1861).

Czardas on Baritone Saxophone

Another piece on an original Sax instrument


6 thoughts on “E-flat Baritone Saxophone

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