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Other saxophones & accessories reviews

This part of the review section is for the more obscure members of the saxophone family, such as the C Melody - and for related gadgets & accessories.

King C Melody saxThe C Melody, as its name suggests, is pitched in C. Given that the rest of the family is pitched in Bb or Eb it appears that the C stands quite alone and apart - and yet when saxes were first built they were available in F and C as well as Bb and Eb. Rumour has it that there are even rarer examples in other keys, though I have yet to see such beasts.

It sounds as though a sax in C ought to have been a winner - and for a brief period in the early 20th century it was. Altos and tenors are pitched in Eb and Bb respectively, which means that players read music which is correspondingly shifted in pitch (transposed) so that the notes they play match the pitch of the notes all the other instruments are playing. If pre-transposed music isn't available, the player has to transpose it themselves - either by laboriously writing it out or by doing so as they're reading the music (sight transposition). The former is a hassle, the latter is a formidable skill.

The whole idea of the C Melody was to provide a sax that would enable the player to read straight off piano parts without having to struggle with transposition...and as television was yet to become the opium of the masses, many people entertained themselves and their family of an evening by bashing out a few tunes on the piano, with perhaps friends or other members of the family providing accompaniment on other instruments.
Thus the C melody was intended to fit right into this homely little scene.

Unfortunately that's about all it did do and when radio, and later television, became widespread the 'parlour concert' became a thing of the past...and so did the C Melody. But that wasn't the sole reason for its demise - it has a strange tone, one that's neither like the alto or the tenor...and many players say that rather than combining the best of its two brothers (the sonority of the tenor's low notes and the punch of the alto's top notes), it combines the worst - which means you get a nasal low end and a stuffy top end.

As for accessories, there's virtually no limit to what you can stick on a saxophone to better 'improve' or enhance your experience. A great many of these things are cheap and cheerful, but a few can cost a considerable sum of money - so it's always worth having an independent assessment of their capabilities.

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