Music

Saxophone Dreamland by RoundGlass Music

Saxophone Dreamland by Roundglass Music

The saxophone is a distinctly emotional instrument. Perhaps, surpassed only by the human voice in the ability to conjure feelings. It’s been called the most sensual instrument, and that’s hard to deny. While long a mainstay in classical music, marching bands, bebop, and jazz. The velvety voice of a sax makes it perfect for chill-out music and believe me, you need to chill out.

The saxophone is a distinctly emotional instrument. Perhaps, surpassed only by the human voice in the ability to conjure feelings. It’s been called the most sensual instrument, and that’s hard to deny. While long a mainstay in classical music, marching bands, bebop, and jazz. The velvety voice of a sax makes it perfect for chill-out music and believe me, you need to chill out.

Unlike some instruments which have clear precursors in ancient history, the saxophone is a relatively new instrument. If you’re wondering about the name, the suffix comes from the ancient greek phōnḗ, meaning “sound,” and the prefix comes from the inventor of the saxophone himself, Adolphe Sax.

Adolphe was the child of two instrument designers, who had made some changes to the French horn. Adolphe was a chip off the old block, showing a skill for the family passion at a young age, even entering a clarinet and two flutes into a competition when he was just fifteen.

If you’re a fan of the sax, you should count yourself lucky, as Adolphe had so many brushes with death while growing up it’s shocking he lived. He fell three stories hitting his head on stone and was believed dead, he once drank a bowl of acidic water thinking it was milk, he received serious burns from a gunpowder explosion, fell on a hot frying pan, and even was struck on the head by cobblestone and fell into a river, nearly drowning. His neighbors even called him, ‘little Sax, the ghost,’ due to his many brushes with death. Luckily for music, little Sax always came through and made it to adulthood!

As an adult, he invented numerous brass instruments with multiple still in use today, although the saxophone, has had inarguably the most lasting legacy, in his time, his earlier saxhorn made a bigger splash. It became a common feature in marching bands and was even the most common brass instrument in American Civil War bands. But in terms of a lasting legacy, the saxophone is untouchable. He created an entire line of saxophones, across different pitches. Today, the entire modern saxophone family consists of instruments in B♭ and E♭.

Unfortunately, for Adolphe, his ingenuity drew attacks from jealous peers. Legal troubles from patten laws brought him to bankruptcy multiple times, and ultimately he died penniless. But his name lives on in his greatest creation, the saxophone.

Until around 1900 the saxophone was primarily used in military and marching bands, as well as some more daring orchestral scores. The life of the instrument seemed to be stagnating in Europe at that point, with the famous Paris Conservatory ceasing to teach the instrument from 1870 to 1900. Luckily for our sax, just as interest was waning in Europe, it was picking up in the United States. Its use in vaudeville and ragtime eventually translated to its adoption in early 1900s dance bands and by the 20s it made the jump to Jazz, supported in part by the Duke Ellington Orchestra. If the sax has shown one thing, it’s staying power. The plucky instrument has found a home across so many styles in so many time periods. It lived through booms and busts over the centuries but isn’t going anywhere.

We live in a world that’s nearly impossible to turn off. Solitude, meditation, or just time to unwind are underappreciated, and hard to find. The noise that surrounds us can be overwhelming. Music can be an instrumental aid in finding both times to chill out, but more importantly the headspace for it. The right playlist can move you to put down your phone, turn off the screen, and carve space out for your mind to rest.

Curated properly, saxophone-centric music can do just that. These gentle, calming saxophone songs are particularly useful as chill-out music because the leading sax melodies feel as powerful as a beautiful, deep, crooning voice singing to you. But without the distraction of lyrics, you can let that voice carry your mind to a place of peace.

Turn on our playlist, maybe even lie down on the floor and close your eyes. You may find yourself carried to another place, a place so vivid you’ll feel yourself sitting in a garden, under the dappled shade of cherry trees and maples. Clouds shift lazily overhead, occasionally into shapes you remember from long ago. You stare out over the pond and run your hand down the scratchy wool blanket covering your legs, before arching your back into a stretch. Your dear friend is coming with a tray, mint tea, dried apricots, and figs. You sit together, watching frogs chirp at the sunset. The thick, sultry, tones of the sax can take you there if you let them.