Guest Blog: Saxophone Performance Essentials

July 31, 2013


Hard as it is to relinquish blog control, occasionally it's nice to hand the reins of this snorting e-beast over to a young whippersnapper with a song in his heart and a twinkle in his eye. One such whippersnapper was our Intern Tim, who - as well as being an all round excellent addition to the office - is an accomplished Saxophonist.

We tasked Tim with arranging a series of auditions with some of London's best Sax players and then gave him the job of writing about the whole experience. What he wrote was pretty good... here, look...    

The saxophone has developed a lot since its initial invention in 1846. From being an orchestral instrument in its kindling, it has grown into a major ambassador for the Jazz genre which evolved in the 20th century. However, it was evident in our recent auditions for saxophonists at Sternberg Clarke that the saxophone is a very much a versatile instrument. A medley of styles was heard distantly from the streets of Wandsworth, ranging from traditional Jazz, to club classics to Hungarian folk tunes.

 The saxophone comes in many different sizes. The alto, tenor and soprano all made appearances at the auditions as the players impressed with their improvisational skills and technical prowess.

The tone is one element of the sound of the saxophone which sometimes gets overlooked. The use of vibrato by the player produces the rich sound of the sax, characteristic of late summer evenings of relaxation. Our players at the auditions more than fulfilled this expectation, and coupled their dulcet tones with slick licks and seamless runs, fitting in with the stereotype of the sax as a laidback instrument.

 The performance aspect, like with all instruments, is critical to conveying the emotion of a piece.  A certain stage presence, whether that be through going off to your own world in the music or simply swaying or tapping your foot to the beat, enhances performances, and conveys the sentiments of pieces more effectively. This was another key part our recent auditions.

The accompaniment is important to consider in saxophone performances as well. At our auditions, accompaniments varied between drum and bass complements to background guitar riffs. Accompaniments can be a vital tool in defining the style of a performance.

 Finally, improvising is something which is truly an essential for saxophonists, whether that be for a throw away ad-lib or a full improvisation section. Improvisation, musical creativity, always impresses others, dinner party acquaintances or just friends!

For more info on booking Saxophonists for corporate events, head over to our contact page and get in touch.