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saxophone,musical instrument invented in the 1840s by Adolphe Sax. Although it uses the single reed of the clarinet family, it has a conical tube and is made of metal. By 1846 there was a double family of 14 saxophones, seven in F and C for orchestral use and seven in E flat and B flat for bands. The latter are by far most common today, the alto, tenor, and baritone being used most frequently. The saxophone has a powerful tone, between woodwind and brass in quality and blending well with both. Valuable to bands and occasionally used in the orchestra, it is now best known for its extensive use in dance and jazz music. It has a small serious solo literature. All saxophones except those in C are transposing instrumentstransposing instrument,
a musical instrument whose part in a score is written at a different pitch than that actually sounded. Such an instrument is usually referred to by the keynote of its natural scale—the clarinet in A, for example—in which case A is sounded when
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a wind instrument, invented by A. Sax. It is made of brass in the shape of a parabolic tube and has a beak-shaped mouthpiece with a single reed. The saxophone family normally numbers seven members, ranging from the sopranino to the contrabass. One of the basic instruments of the jazz ensemble, it is also used in brass bands, as well as in music-hall and symphony orchestras. The saxophone is also played as a solo instrument.