Welcome to the tenor sax review section.
The tenor sax is perhaps what most people would consider to be the archetypal
sax. Its unique silhouette is the very arbiter of all that's cool, even
just holding one will raise your street cred a couple of notches. Whether
that association has come through its tone or through its connection to
some pretty hip dudes down the years, there can surely be no argument
about it having rightfully earned its place as a cultural icon.
in Bb, the tenor is slightly larger than the alto. Many people confuse
the two, but the tenor's characteristic 'swan neck' gives it away every
time. If it's slightly less popular than the alto with beginners, it's
simply down to its size - there aren't many pre-teenagers who're big enough
to be able to handle it comfortably - and yet it's perhaps a slightly
easier blow, being a little more forgiving than the alto - which requires
a slightly tighter embouchure - but in return it requires a little more
grunt down the lower end to give of its best.
Like the alto, the list of names in its 'hall of fame' runs into the
many hundreds, along with the huge variety of tones the tenor is capable
of. Of all the saxes, the tenor is arguably the most versatile in terms
of tone...you can make a tenor sound like an alto, but it's quite tricky
to make an alto sound like a tenor.
If there's one genre in which the tenor hasn't quite made it big, it's
in modern pop music.
To be sure, its jazz credentials are as impeccable as the alto's - and
Rock 'n Roll might roll without a tenor sax, but it wouldn't rock much
- and yet the tenor just doesn't seem to have made the same impact as
its smaller brother when it comes to a chart-busting number one hit. It's
probably far too cool for that sort of thing anyway!
In other popular genres it's a veritable mainstay, even more so than
the alto. A typical 3-piece horn section will traditionally consist of
a trumpet, a trombone and a tenor sax - and I'd be inclined to say that
if you wanted to play a horn that ensured you were never out of work,
you couldn't do much better than the tenor sax. Perhaps its most useful
attribute in this field is that it can read straight off written trumpet
parts - and can quite effectively replace that instrument too.
For the 'smoocher' there's nothing to touch a tenor sax - no other instrument
comes close to the sound of a tenor played soft and low, and if there's
a reason for this I would suggest that it harks back to a time when a
man would poke his head out of his cave and listen to the low, soft moaning
of the wind through the trees. Or maybe it's just that association with
a lower voice...and all that that entails!
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