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The baritone saxophone is the largest saxophone to be visible within the public sphere. Though the contrabass sax is in fact larger than the 'bari sax', the baritone saxophone is much more portable and more suited to ensemble playing, due to its range. The instrument has a significantly low register, lower than an alto saxophone, and is pitched in E.
The original manufacturer and engineer responsible for the crafting of the bass instrument was Adolphe Sax, the same gentleman that brought the other saxophone styles into being. The saxophone developed by Adolphe Sax is a reeded brass instrument that has a long resonating chamber, which echoes the sound around its insides until it is delivered out of the horn to the ear of the listener.
Weight of Instrument:
The bari sax is not an instrument for lightweights, as it is incredibly heavy for its style. While piano's and harpsichords are not light either, they are not designed to be held by the player, or moved regularly. The bari sax is recognized as bearing significant weight, averaging about 18 pounds, and there have been special straps designed for the wearer to prevent the weighty chunk of metal causing long term damage to their neck.
Typically used by larger ensembles and brass bands, especially military marching bands, the bari sax has a range and register that is used to meander between the other saxophones and trumpets that are making noise at a higher frequency. The fullness of the deep sound provides a smoothing effect to the ensemble and this allows the composer to link separate musical phrases being played by the high end together. The composer does this with the use of a long low note or two from the bari sax to change the key.
Famous pieces for the bari sax have been developed by noted classical composers. Ira Gershwin produced Rhapsody in Blue with notable use of the Baritone Sax. There is a growing range of solo pieces for the instrument, but due to its uncommon distribution and lower population of skilled players when compared to the alto or tenor sax, there is understandably a smaller repertoire that is suited to the solo performance. Ska music, a traditionally brass based uptempo dance groove style, is beginning to make inroads surrounding the use of bari sax, with “Less than Jake,” introducing it into their recent compositions and jamming away.
Negatives to obtaining Instrument:
The major hindrance with the bari sax is its size, weight and cost. These three factors merge into a quagmire of musical jelly that makes the bari sax a difficult instrument to obtain access to. Most musicians tend to lack the funds to go out and buy a new bari sax, and those that are available second hand tend to be damaged or of lower quality. People hold onto their instruments if they are nice to play, and the bari sax is no different.
Care of Instrument:
Care for a Barisax is no different to care for any other reeded brass instrument. Regular oiling of the valve system that is used to change the pitch of the note, in order to keep the mechanism smooth and functional is critical, as is cleaning out the inside of the instrument after playing. Condensation can cause oxidation, and the human breath is a notorious source of moisture. Making sure that valuable instruments are looked after is a key step in preserving their value in the long term, and the joy of playing them.