A tenor saxophone is a musical instrument that is classified as a woodwind. These types of instruments generally have metal bodies fabricated from brass or nickel, with a single-reed bearing metal ligature fitted on a mouthpiece. The tenor saxophone is played in many types of music, including orchestral, jazz, and rock music. In a standard saxophone lineup, the tenor saxophone is lower than both the alto and soprano saxophones, but higher than the baritone saxophone. Famous tenor saxophone players include Sonny Rollins, Branford Marsalis, and Dextor Gordon.
Tenor saxophones are called woodwinds because a wooden reed creates the vibration required to make the saxophone sound. Other woodwinds include the clarinet, the flute, and the oboe. The reeds for clarinets and saxophones are flat, while oboe reeds are round. The size of the wooden reed used in a tenor saxophone is so similar to the size of a bass clarinet reed that they are interchangeable as substitutes in an emergency situation. Flutes do not have a reed, and are classified as woodwinds because they were originally made exclusively of wood.
Saxophones were invented around 1840 by a man from Belgium named Adolphe Sax. Tenor saxophones were among his original designs, as were the alto, soprano, and baritone saxophones, in addition to many more. The timbre of a tenor saxophone is often described as warmer than the alto, even in the higher registers of its range.
Musical timbre refers to the unique sound qualities that make one instrument sound different from another, even when they are playing the same pitch. In music, the pitch is how high or low a note is. Since the timbre of a tenor saxophone is widely considered to be pleasing to the ear, tenor saxophonists are frequently chosen as soloists in many types of music. This instrument is commonly used in smooth jazz, but is just as often featured in solos in jazz and old fashioned rock and roll ensembles.
The main parts of the saxophone are the body, the neck, and the mouthpiece. Like other saxophones, a tenor saxophone has a part called a ligature that holds the wooden reed in place on the mouthpiece. To achieve the proper sound, the reed needs to be moist before playing. Many saxophone players place the playing end of the reed in their mouths to soak up saliva to moisten the reed before playing the instrument.