By Xinhua Writer Li Kun
TIANJIN, Nov. 8 (Xinhua) -- This Monday marked the 203rd birthday Adolphe Sax, the inventor of the saxophone. The Belgian could never have imagined that over a hundred years after his death his invention would become the lifeblood of a small Chinese village.
For more than a decade, Sidangkouzhong Village, in north China's Tianjin Municipality, has been thriving thanks to the instrument-making industry. It has earned the nickname "Saxophone Village" as it produces more than 10,000 saxophones per month.
"Almost every family in my village has someone who knows how to make saxophones," said Zhang Guomin, Party chief of Sidangkouzhong.
Invented in 1840, saxophones have a complicated structure which cannot be produced solely by machinery, much of the process must be completed by hand.
According to Zhang, the village now has about 70 instrument factories with a total output value of about 45 million U.S. dollars in 2016.
The boom of the saxophone industry in Sidangkouzhong actually happened slowly over a long time frame, he said.
In 1970s, in order to increase villagers' incomes, a small factory was established to produce instrument components for a larger factory in Tianjin.
After China's reform and opening up drive started in 1978, more factories were set in the village. By the 1990s, almost every family had an instrument workshop, according to Zhang.
In the 2000s the village began to focus specifically on saxophones, due to an increase in worldwide demand. Many small factories were transformed into modern companies and some even attracted foreign investors.
Zhang is involved in a joint venture with an output value of more than 10 million U.S. dollars per year. He said, like many other villagers, over 95 percent of his products are exported.
Saxophones have not only brought wealth to the village, but also created enthusiasm for studying music.
"Many of our students are very interested in playing the saxophone, so we established a band to train them," said Liu Huanyu, head of the village primary school.
According to Liu, young farmers can often be seen playing saxophones in the fields in summer. For them the instrument is a form of entertainment while they work.
Although usually made of brass, saxophones are actually a member in the woodwind family.
"They are more powerful than other woodwind instruments and more adaptable than the brass instruments, which makes them popular all over the world," said Jiang Shengyong, a well-known saxophone player based in Tianjin.
Zhang said the village is also exploring how it can transform and update its instrument manufacturing industry in order to meet the diverse demands of the market.
"Producing high-end and tailer-made saxophones and other instruments is the way forward," he said.