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The Saxophone$
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Stephen Cottrell

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780300100419

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: October 2013

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300100419.001.0001

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The saxophone as symbol and icon

The saxophone as symbol and icon

(p.306) Chapter 8 The saxophone as symbol and icon
The Saxophone

Stephen Cottrell

Yale University Press

This chapter examines the saxophone's status as a symbol and an icon within culture. From its inception, the instrument has been identified with modernity, innovation, and a sense of exploration and enquiry. Its unusual shape and timbre were harnessed to great effect and have thus garnered it an audience whose minds were to view it as something new and exotic. The saxophone slowly and eventually penetrated art music genres later on, its supporters pushing the serious qualities of the instrument and its great contribution to music. Clay Smith was one who promoted this in the early 1900s, noting the saxophone as quintessentially American especially since it was perfected and improved in America. Its symbolic role began with astronaut Ron McNair, making it the first musical instrument to be taken into orbit on the space shuttle Challenger in February 1984. The chapter thus illustrates other examples of the saxophone's status and symbol in culture.

Keywords:   modernity, art music genres, Clay Smith, Ron McNair, space shuttle Challenger

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