The Absolute Brilliance of Poet Phillis Wheatley

Phillis Wheatley (1753-1784) was born in West Africa in 1753, and she was sold into slavery between the ages of 7 and 8. As a slave of the Wheatley family of Boston, Massachussetts, she learned how to read and write, and she developed an extraordinary talent for writing poetry. She is the first African-American to publish a book of poetry ((her book was published in England). Wheatley was freed by the Wheatley family shortly after publishing her book. Unfortunately, her gift was never fully recognized and appreciated while she was alive: she died in poverty and obscurity in 1784 at the age of 31.

Today, I wrote a saxophone etude in her honor, and that saxophone etude is titled "Phillis Wheatley". She deserves to be praised and recognized for her achievements.

You can learn more about Phillis Wheatley here.

The Phillis Wheatley saxophone etude is designed to help you to develop increased facility playing arpeggiated major seventh chords. If you practice the etude slowly, it can also help you to improve your tone and intonation.

Relevant downloads:

  • .pdf file of the Phillis Wheatley etude is here
  • MuseScore file of the Phillis Wheatley etude is here.
  • The Phillis Wheatley etude on is here.

Technical details for nerds:

  • This etude was created using ONLY free and open-source software (FOSS).
  • All writing of the etude was done on a computer running the GNU/Linux computer operating system, specifically Pop!_OS 20.10.
  • The etude video was recorded using the Open Broadcaster Software (OBS).
  • The saxophone's audio was recorded using a Blue Yeti USB condenser microphone.
  • The musical score for this etude was written using MuseScore.
  • I play exclusive on Otto Link mouthpieces (specifically the Otto Link OLM-402-7S Super Tone Master metal alto sax mouthpiece) and Fibracell synthetic alto saxophone reeds (specifically strength 3).


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