E-flat Contrabass Saxophone

Contrabass Saxophone

Contrabass Saxophone

This is the largest member of the saxophone family pitched one octave lower than the Baritone Saxophone.  This is a rare instrument, but its numbers are increasing.  When I first started to study instruments over twenty years ago, there were only seventeen such instruments in the world.  Today, there are many more, and one manufacturer, Eppelsheim of Munich, is making instruments of such high quality that they surpass even the best Altos and Tenors on the market.  It is with the Eppelsheim instrument that we should familiarize ourselves, as it is the most widely available.  It descends to a written low A (sounding a low C at the bottom of the Piano).

The sound is powerful and memorable, and a single instrument could carry the bass line for the entire band.  It is the single most potent contrabass voice in the woodwind section.  It can also, of course, be delicate and lyrical.

Along with the Bass Oboe, I most desire the Contrabass Saxophone to take up a permanent residence in the modern band.  That said, I know of no work that calls for the instrument.  Though, I can relay an anecdote where a prominent composer was greatly wishing to use a Contrabass in his band composition, but the band director (who commissioned the work) was against the idea as he did not know where or how to procure an instrument.  Outside of these low saxophones (Baritone, Bass, and Contrabass), this composer was not at all interested in writing for the saxophones in his work.

Singleé’s Septieme Solo de Concert – compare this with the same piece played on the Baritone I linked to just above.

4 thoughts on “E-flat Contrabass Saxophone

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