Also referred to as a sax, the saxophone is an amazing instrument that has been with us from around the year 1840 when it was invented by Belgian instrument maker Adolphe Sax. The sax is a fairly large instrument with a bell shaped outlet giving it a majestic look. It belongs to the family of woodwind instruments even though it is usually made out of brass. This is because the sound is produced by an internal wooden reed.
The wooden reeds are situated in the mouthpiece of the saxophone and are interchangeable and widely available to purchase separately. Mouthpieces pieces can also be changed but they have little effect on the sound produced, so swapping them is purely for the saxophonists comfort.
The saxophone is mostly used in classical music (bands, concerts, and orchestras) and jazz. The sax is an amazing instrument that has the ability to produce a wide range of timbers. From the heavenly to the shrill timber.
There are a number of notable musicians who are skilled at playing the saxophone and they can single handedly deliver an exhilarating performance. Saxophone players are called saxophonists. Among the more notable saxophonists are Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk and Bud Powell.
Saxophones come in various guises. The most popular types are the Sopranino saxophone, Soprano saxophone, Alto saxophone, Tenor saxophone, Baritone saxophone, Bass saxophone, Contrabass saxophone and the Subcontrabass saxophone.
The Tuba is a musical instrument that belongs to the brass family and is referred to as a wind instrument. Tubas are mostly used in classical music arrangements, jazz bands and military parades. It is the lowest-pitched and largest instrument in the brass family. Tubas are commonly used to fill in brass roles but they are also used as solo instruments by some skilled hands.
Tubas are very large, bulky instruments that are often played while seated due to the weight especially concert tubas where the bell points upward. More portable tubas, known as helicon tubas, are shaped to wrap around the body for use in marching bands etc.
Tubas are synonymous with the New Orleans jazz music circuit and have featured in top brass bands such as the Dirty Dozen Brass Band and the Rebirth Brass Band.
The harmonica is a wind instrument that was first seen in the mid 19th century. It is played by blowing wind in to the holes along the top of it, which in turn vibrates the inbuilt reeds to produce various notes by the musician. Also known as mouth organs or French harps, harmonicas are used in many styles of music – Jazz, Blues, Classical being a small selection. Skillful players can deliver an outstanding performance by bending the embouchure (closed mouth angle).
Types of harmonicas include diatonic, chromatic, tremolo, octave, orchestral, and bass. A distinctive feature of the harmonica is that it can be played while also playing a second instrument such as a guitar. This is achieved with the use of a neck rack to position the instrument right in front of the players mouth, leaving both hands free to play the other instrument.
This stringed musical instrument that doesn’t warrant much introduction due to its wide spread use. It is very popular in classical music and is often played during romantic scenes in the movies. At the hands of a skilled player it produces magical notes that captivate the heart and soul of the audience.
A regular violin has 4 strings and is played with a bow. A violin bow is a specially shaped piece of wood with around 150-200 lengths of horsehair stretched between the 2 ends. The bow is stroked across the violin strings in order to produce the distinctive sound.
The most famous and expensive violins were produced by an Italian family called Stradivari. Stradivarius violins are renowned for their high quality sound. They are no longer in production but around 600 still remain in various collections. These violins command prices ranging from several hundred thousand dollars up to a record high of $15.9 million!
Some gifted solo violinists include Yehudi Menuhin, Hilary Hahn, Vanessa Mae and Stephane Grappelli.
The trumpet is instantly recognizable both to the eye and the ear. This ever present brass instrument is commonly used in brass bands, jazz and classical music ensembles. They have the highest register in the brass family of instruments. The trumpet is considered the ultimate piece in a music band as it can make or break the band depending on the skill the skill of the trumpeter.
Historically, many variations of the trumpet have been used as signaling devices both in battle and hunting. Trumpets are pitched in various keys from A to G, C being the most common. The smallest variation is called the Piccolo trumpet, which has 4 valves as opposed too 3 on a standard trumpet.
Notable trumpet players down the years are Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, Chet Baker and more recently Tine Thing Helseth.
The piano is a stringed musical instrument that is played while seated and pressing the corresponding notes on a keyboard consisting of 88 keys. Pianos are so versatile that they can be included in virtually any music ensemble or played by a solo musician. Today, the market has a wide range of pianos, both digital and the traditional mechanical types.
Traditionally pianos are categorized as either grand or upright. A grand piano has a horizontal string layout while the upright is vertically strung. Music aficionados will swear that the vintage mechanical pianos are far superior to the modern electronic versions, but modernists believe the electronic version is the most versatile. Any song can sound amazing on the piano when it is performed by a competent pianist.
The guitar is the most common musical instrument in the world. It is used in all styles of music from the classical music ensembles to the modern day steel, heavy metal, jazz, rock and one man bands. Any musical setup you could think of benefits from a guitar playing in the background.
Guitars are associated mostly with rock music. There have been some outstanding guitarists over the years. Legends such as Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Slash and many more acclaimed artists whose whole musical persona is based around the guitar. These are iconic examples of the beauty of the Guitar and how it has claimed its place in the fabric of the music world.
Most famous musicians today will readily state that the guitar was the first musical instrument they learned to play. Being a relatively simple instrument to learn, guitars can be found in many households. Guitars can produce thunderous riffs, sweet melodies and almost any other range of sound you could think of.
The various guitar based music bands and soloists have been responsible for keeping the guitar prevalent in the music scene throughout the early part of this century and to this day. Guitars are divided into 2 types : Electric guitars are connected to the mains supply and the sound is enhanced with circuitry and boosted by an amplifier. Acoustic guitars have a mellower sound and need no power; just strum with your fingertips or a plectrum and make music!
Is there any band worth its salt that can perform without a drum kit in the mix ? Would the Beatles have gained as much fame without Ringo Star as their drummer ? Drum kits are the essential heartbeat to modern music. They can perfectly build up a soft ballad or push the crescendo of an orchestra to the epic heights. The multitude of bands we know so well today would sound very different without a set of drums in the arrangement. Drums are actually addictive. When we nod our head to music, it is generally to the beat of the drums.
Furthermore basic drum kits will generally consist of a stand mounted snare drum, a pedal operated bass drum, at least one tom drum, a hi-hat also played with pedal and a cymbal. Good players will add more elements to their drum kit to improve the range of sounds. With the constant forward progression of technology, it was inevitable that electronic drums would appear. Electronic drum kits have the advantage of being more portable than their acoustic counterparts. They are also suitable for events where low volume is required.
We’ve already mentioned the Beatles’ Ringo Star but there are many drummers from our recent past. Among them are famous names like Keith Moon, Phil Collins, John Bonham and Tommy Lee.
Feel like starting your own garage rock band?
Cellos are string instruments related to the violin but larger and floor standing on an endpin while being played, as opposed to rested against the shoulder. It is mostly used in classical music arrangements and string quartets. Played with a bow or plucked with the fingers, it produces a deep, bassy tone.
The cello can often be found accompanying tense music in haunting movie scenes. And top professional cello players can single handedly set the mood for a theater scene or capture the listeners attention during the lull in a piece of classical music.
An orchestra would be incomplete without a cello involved, such is the importance of the low tones it produces. As with violins, cellos are made by luthiers who specialize in designing stringed instruments.
The flute is a woodwind instrument, much adored for its soft, enchanting and fruity sounds. It is very popular with performers of music from the renaissance and baroque genre. Flutes are one of the oldest musical instruments and can be traced back over 40000 years. Traditional folk music relies on the flute for its jaunty, melodic rhythm.
Classic flutes are categorized as either concert or transverse. While Concert flutes are more complex than the simpler 1 keyed transverse flute, the latter is simpler to play. Professional flautists use flutes constructed from silver, gold or even platinum. Beginners flutes are usually made from nickel or brass.
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