A saxophone produces a plaintive, nasal tone that is usually somewhere in between the piercing, nasal tone of the oboe and the warm, brighter sound of the clarinet. The alto and tenor saxophones are two of the most commonly used saxophones in modern times.
The special sound of the saxophone lends itself well to a variety of music, from the plaintive, rich saxophone solo in Sergei Rachmaninoff's "Symphonic Dances," to the more upbeat tunes of the Jazz era. The sound of the saxophone varies slightly with the different types. Soprano saxophones have a higher, more piercing sound, whereas the tenor has a lower, mellower tone.