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Saxophonics is the creation of sounds (both musical and non-musical) through the use of a saxophone and one or more electronic effects units, often altering the acoustic sound of the horn beyond recognition. Additionally, saxophonics often entails the use of altissimo, overtones, growling, and other extended techniques; the electronic effects may include distortion, doublers, loops, wah-wah, and tone generators.

Saxophonics is a recent term for techniques developed by saxophonists such as Eddie Harris and Sonny Stitt, who both began playing the Varitone saxophone during the 1960s. In addition to playing the Varitone, Eddie Harris had experimented with looping techniques on his 1968 album Silver Cycles.

Rahsaan Roland Kirk often played several saxophones at once (though this technique has earlier roots in Wilbur Sweatman's vaudeville performances[1]:68–69), and was a notable practitioner of circular breathing.

David Sanborn and Traffic member Chris Wood employed effects such as wah-wah and delay on various recordings during the 1970s.

Recent practitioners of saxophonics include Dana Colley (of Morphine) who, like Kirk, plays multiple saxophones simultaneously (tenor and baritone saxophone in Colley's case) and Skerik (Critters Buggin', et al.) who employs numerous effects with tenor and baritone saxophone; Ben Ellman, who plays tenor and baritone saxophone in Galactic; and Cochemea Gastelum, who plays alto saxophone with Robert Walter's 20th Congress.

Saxophonics is also the name of at least one saxophone ensemble, such as one based in Wiltshire, and another in Newcastle upon Tyne.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Berresford, Mark (2010). That's got 'em!: the life and music of Wilbur C. Sweatman. Univ. of Mississippi Press. The playing of two clarinets at once was something the patrons had never before had the chance to witness…. The second number was the novelty number of the cast, in which Mr. Sweatman played two clarionets [sic] at the same time, rendering that beautiful song "The Rosary."
  2. ^ "About us". Retrieved 4 January 2014.