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Date: Fri, 22 Oct 1999 23:58:28 -0400
From: Robert Howe <>
Subject: Early Saxophone Sounds

Hello list.  Last month we argued, with much heat but without any data,
as to the likely sound of early Saxophones.  I received today from Mark
Aronson, the finest American restorer of band instruments, Adolphe Sax
Eb alto Saxophone serial 24194 (built 1864-5).  He has been restoring it
for me since I bought it in May 1998.  It was worth waiting for; he has
lovingly cleaned, soldered, padded and adjusted this puppy without
removing any brass or adding any substance that cannot be easily
removed, thus keeping to basic tenets of conservation.

When played with the original mouthpiece and a Symetricut #2 reed, the
sound is full, sweet, marvelously in tune (but sadly, at some high pitch
well above A440, perhaps A452; my tuner is in my black bag at work) and
very, very beautiful. I have never heard a nicer alto Saxophone sound
(except perhaps from my niece's 1995 Buffet-Crampon alto, which plays
sweeter than an English horn).   This corroborates the written evidence
(Berlioz etc), the musical evidence (Bizet) and the historical
likelihood that a new species of woodwind instrument would be played
beautifully in Paris, the city that gave us the Boehm clarinet (really
by A. Buffet), the Jancourt bassoon, and the Conservatory oboe.

Q. E .D.

Robert Howe

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