The baritone chronology – a study of the baritone saxophone evolution in jazz history

University essay from Göteborgs universitet/Högskolan för scen och musik

Abstract: This project investigates the history of the baritone saxophone. The role of the baritone saxophone as a soloist instrument has historically often been overshadowed by the tenor or the alto saxophone. Even if important innovations have been made by many great baritonists during the years, no extensive literature regarding the baritone saxophone is to be found. My aim with this Masters ́ thesis is to trace the history of the baritone saxophone from its invention until the modern era, around the 80 ́s. My research questions are: which innovations have been done on the baritone saxophone in the previous century regarding sound, phrasing and articulation? Is there a relation between the first baritone players in jazz history and the modern ones? My purpose is to contribute to the literature regarding the baritone saxophone, creating a chronology of the most influential soloists in jazz music. My aim is also to find methods that could be helpful in a correct approach to the instrument. In addition to this, I have analyzed the ways in which the greatest baritonists have influenced my personal musical background, thus creating a link to my own artistic profile. The material chosen for my study has been studio and live recordings made by some of the most influential jazz baritone saxophonists throughout the 20th century, musicians that all have made important contributions in expanding the technical possibilities of the instrument. I have also been analyzing some of my own solos extracted from live recordings from different periods of time. The method used in my analysis has been transcribing and comparing the material in order to trace an evolution of the instrument, mainly focusing on technical aspects. I consider this Master's thesis as a beginning of a personal journey that hopefully will be expanded and enriched over the years. Suggestions for further research could be the analysis of contemporary baritone saxophone players and the definition of the instruments current stylistic conditions, regarding technical as well as artistic aspects.

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