The first CD dedicated
to the Soprillo
Getting high on the world's smallest saxophone!
The soprillo is the world's smallest "piccolo" saxophone, measuring only 12" (30cm) in height (13" including the mouthpiece) and sounding a full octave above the soprano saxophone.
Only recently has it been possible to manufacture such a fantastically small and high-pitched instrument such as the soprillo saxophone. The soprillo is a true "sopranissimo" instrument, sounding an octave above the soprano and half an octave above the sopranino.
Like some other saxophones, it is a transposing instrument in Bb. Its keys allow it to range from low-Bb to high-eb, although notes above G require different fingerings to regular saxophones. Due to the small size of the soprillo, the upper octave key has been placed into the mouthpiece.
The soprillo is currently manufactured by Benedikt Eppelsheim, Munich.
I have created a soprillo part in many of the pieces I've arranged for the National Saxophone Choir of Great Britain. Although this is the main opportunity I have to perform so far, I am trying to compile compositions and arrangements that may be suitable for the Soprillo.
I've tried Eb clarinet reeds, Superial sopranino, Vandoren White Master Clarinet Reed (which requires cutting down) all of which seem to work with varying degrees of success, depending on your preference. Experimentation with plastic reeds has not been too successful. For the time being though, I've settled on Vandoren sopranino sax "4" reeds which seem to work for me.
My lower lip still becomes somewhat sore fairly quickly after repeated attempts at practising the highest notes. I used to use six folded Rizla papers - but as time goes by, perseverance and practise are making playing easier. I've discovered 'Matty' pop-up papers (end papers used by hair-dressers) are more effective and less likely to disintegrate, reducing the risk of soggy bits of paper getting stuck at the tip of the reed.
Adding various fingerings in the right hand can improve intonation for notes above top G. I've added a fingering guide now.
Do check in here periodically if you are interested in any further discoveries that I've made which may be useful to you. Likewise, I'd be grateful for any Soprillo tips that you may have.