A bari saxophone, short for baritone saxophone, is a large musical instrument with a smooth deep tone. It is a large member of the saxophone family, the largest of the common saxes. It is pitched in E-flat like the alto saxophone, but is one octave lower. Its music is written in the treble clef even though it is low pitched. It looks like a huge version of the smaller saxophones except for the loop at the top near the mouthpiece. Less common than the baritone is the bass saxophone which has an even larger loop near the top.
The baritone saxophone is often used in classical saxophone quartet music, which calls for the four most common saxophones to be played together. In band music, the bari plays a similar part to other bass instruments such as the tuba. These bass instruments often play pulsing notes that keep the rhythm of the music. Like other saxophones, the bari requires a neck strap for seated playing and rests on the floor. It is so heavy that it is often not used in marching bands. If the bari sax is used in marching, the player must wear a harness to distribute the weight on his or her back.
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Since the fingering is the same on all saxophones, many baritone sax players start their training on the alto sax. In time they move on to the baritone. The instrument isn’t usually featured in solo performances, except in jazz music. The big band music era relied on the baritone saxophone for the bass lines as well as interesting solos and exuberant improvisations.
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