Happy birthday Adolphe Sax – Saxophone inventor & ‘The Devil’s Horn’

Adafruit 0524

Saxophone’s History as ‘The Devil’s Horn’ : NPR via NYTimes

The inventor of the saxophone, Adolphe Sax, was born on this day in 1814 in Belgium.

Mr. Sax patented his family of valved brass instruments in 1846, as militarism was sweeping Europe. The new horns were a hit with military and other wind bands.

He created other musical instruments, like the saxotromba, saxhorn and saxtuba, by blending features of existing ones in unexpected ways.

Mr. Sax was eventually bankrupted by lawsuits brought against him by competitors challenging his patents, and he suffered disfiguring accidents, assassination attemptsand a cancerous tumor on his lip.

The biggest issue for Adolph Sax right after he invented the horn was that his saxophone threatened to put out of business all sorts of other instrument makers. The saxophone is so flexible in its sound, it can sound like an oboe, a bassoon, a French horn, a flute. You can do all sorts of things with it. And when he won his contract to have the saxophones placed in the French military ensembles he obviously was going to put out of business a lot of people. So you’re right, they formed this Association of United Instrument Makers and they twice tried to kill him. They burned down his factory, as you say. And that legacy seems to have followed the saxophone right up until the present. It just gets people’s goats.

But interestingly, the saxophone ended up empowering three very disenfranchised groups in America and they would be African-Americans, women and children. It wasn’t really until the soloists broke out of the dance bands–and they would be Coleman Hawkins and Chu Berry and Ben Webster and Mayor Lester Young–that the saxophone really found the voice that we think of today.

Something very similar happened with women in the teens. It was considered impolite for women to play an instrument in public, and yet in the teens around the time of the suffrage movement, women formed in America all-female, all-saxophone bands of four, eight, 12, 20 saxophones.

Read / listen.


Adafruit publishes a wide range of writing and video content, including interviews and reporting on the maker market and the wider technology world. Our standards page is intended as a guide to best practices that Adafruit uses, as well as an outline of the ethical standards Adafruit aspires to. While Adafruit is not an independent journalistic institution, Adafruit strives to be a fair, informative, and positive voice within the community – check it out here: adafruit.com/editorialstandards

Join Adafruit on Mastodon

Adafruit is on Mastodon, join in! adafruit.com/mastodon

Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on code.org, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, TinyGO, or even use the Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.

Have an amazing project to share? The Electronics Show and Tell is every Wednesday at 7pm ET! To join, head over to YouTube and check out the show’s live chat – we’ll post the link there.

Join us every Wednesday night at 8pm ET for Ask an Engineer!

Join over 36,000+ makers on Adafruit’s Discord channels and be part of the community! http://adafru.it/discord

CircuitPython – The easiest way to program microcontrollers – CircuitPython.org


Maker Business — “Packaging” chips in the US

Wearables — Enclosures help fight body humidity in costumes

Electronics — Transformers: More than meets the eye!

Python for Microcontrollers — Python on Microcontrollers Newsletter: Silicon Labs introduces CircuitPython support, and more! #CircuitPython #Python #micropython @ThePSF @Raspberry_Pi

Adafruit IoT Monthly — Guardian Robot, Weather-wise Umbrella Stand, and more!

Microsoft MakeCode — MakeCode Thank You!

EYE on NPI — Maxim’s Himalaya uSLIC Step-Down Power Module #EyeOnNPI @maximintegrated @digikey

New Products – Adafruit Industries – Makers, hackers, artists, designers and engineers! — #NewProds 7/19/23 Feat. Adafruit Matrix Portal S3 CircuitPython Powered Internet Display!

Get the only spam-free daily newsletter about wearables, running a "maker business", electronic tips and more! Subscribe at AdafruitDaily.com !



No Comments

No comments yet.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.