Sopranino saxophone

The sopranino saxophone is one of the smallest members of the saxophone family. It is tuned in the key of E, and sounds an octave higher than the alto saxophone. The sopranino saxophone has a sweet sound and although it is one of the least common of the saxophones in regular use today, it is still being produced by several of the major musical manufacturing companies. Due to their small size, sopraninos are not usually curved like other saxophones. Orsi, however, does make curved sopranino saxophones.

Sopranino saxophone
Orsi Sopranino Saxophone.jpg
Orsi curved sopranino saxophone (c. 2000)
Woodwind instrument
Hornbostel–Sachs classification422.212-71
(Single-reed aerophone with keys)
Inventor(s)Adolphe Sax
Developed28 June 1846[1]
Playing range
Sax range.svg

In E: sounds a minor third higher than written.
Sounding: Sounding range of sopranino saxophone.png
Related instruments

Military band family:

Orchestral family:

Other saxophones:

More articles or information
Top to bottom: a curved E sopranino saxophone, a straight E sopranino saxophone, a C soprano saxophone, and a B soprano saxophone.

The original patented saxophone family, as developed by Adolphe Sax, included sopranino, soprano, alto, tenor, baritone, bass, contrabass, and subcontrabass instruments (although he never built the last). Since the late 20th century, however, a B piccolo, or sopranissimo saxophone (called soprillo, and tuned a fifth above the sopranino) and a B subcontrabass instrument (called tubax, also made in C) have been developed by the German instrument maker Benedikt Eppelsheim.

The most notable use of the sopranino is in the orchestral work Boléro by Maurice Ravel. Although Ravel called for a soprano saxophone in F, this member of the "concert" family of saxophones never gained popularity and is no longer built. In recent years, rock band Violent Femmes have incorporated sopranino saxophone into the band's live performances as well as their newest albums. Saxophonist Blaise Garza plays a curved sopranino saxophone in the song "I'm Not Gonna Cry" off of the 2019 album "Hotel Last Resort."[2] Outside of classical and rock music, notable jazz and improvising musicians using this instrument include Carla Marciano, James Carter, Anthony Braxton, La Monte Young, Roscoe Mitchell, Christophe Monniot, Joseph Jarman, Paul McCandless, Lol Coxhill, Roger Frampton, Hans Koller,[citation needed] Wolfgang Fuchs, Douglas Ewart, Larry Ochs, Vinny Golia, Thomas Chapin, Martin Archer, Jon Irabagon,[3] Massimo Falascone, Gianni Gebbia, Garth Hudson (seen playing one in the film The Last Waltz) and Ian Anderson (credited with having played the instrument on the Jethro Tull albums A Passion Play and War Child). The sopranino saxophone is also used in the six-member Nuclear Whales Saxophone Orchestra, currently played by Kelley Hart Jenkins.

Being the highest-pitched representative of the original saxophone family, the sopranino sax is notable for its expressive sound.


  1. ^ "June 28, 1846: Parisian Inventor Patents Saxophone". Retrieved 14 February 2011.
  2. ^ Hotel Last Resort - Violent Femmes | Credits | AllMusic, retrieved 30 June 2020
  3. ^ Ackermann, Karl (1 September 2015). "Jon Irabagon: Inaction is An Action album review @ All About Jazz". All About Jazz. Retrieved 30 June 2020.