I mentioned yesterday that my dad bought me a saxophone to play in the band. It was almost identical to the one shown above, which is a Buescher C-Melody sax made in the 1920s. The one in the picture is currently on sale on EBay for $10,000.
The one my dad bought for me was much fancier. It had beautiful engraving on the bell that showed the head of an elk with a banner that said Elkhart. Elkhart, Indiana was the world capitol of saxophone manufacturing, and instruments simply labeled Elkhart were made there by both Buescher and Martin. I have no idea who built mine.
My saxophone was slightly larger than an Alto, and while it had the graceful neck typical of a Tenor, it was slightly smaller. I guess you could say it was neither fish nor fowl, but something in between. Whoever built my saxophone, it was a gorgeous instrument and a magnificent mistake.
It was a saxophone built in the key of C. That meant that when the director called for a “Concert” C while tuning, I could simply play a C. Kids playing alto sax (E♭) played an A and those with tenor saxophones (B♭) played a D.
So far, so good, but there was no music in the band’s library written for C saxophones!
If I was going to play pre-written music, I was stuck playing parts written for other C instruments like the flutes or oboes. I might opt for trombone music, but it was typically written in bass clef which created its own set of problems.
If I wanted to play the Saxophone part, I had to use a chart similar to the one below, and write it myself.
So, while most seventh graders were simply learning to read music, I was learning to transpose.