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Socio-Political and Economic Environment

In: Business and Management

Submitted By peterrabbit
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Unit 5 – Socio-Political and Economic Environment
March 11, 2012

Abstract
The purpose of this paper is to identify a cultural artifact that best represents the society in which we live today. This paper will analyze in detail the jazz saxophone. This paper will examine its origin, it development, and its roots in American jazz. This paper will also explore the changes this artifact will have on future generations.

Socio-Political Economic Environment
If there were a single cultural artifact that this represents the culture in which we live, today that artifact would be the saxophone or as it is known to most musicians as the jazz sax. The saxophone and jazz are synonymous with a culture that was developed in the United States in the early 20th century. Although this instrument is enjoyed by people all over the world and is used in all forms of music today, it is best known as an integral part of jazz music (The-Saxophone, 2012).
Adolphe Sax invented the saxophone in 1838 in Belgium. Sax was the son of an instrument maker and by the age of six, was an expert musical instrument maker (The-Saxophone, 2012). He produced such instruments as the flute and clarinet and learns to play them by testing the ones he made. Sax studied both instruments at the Brussels Conservatory.
As a skilled musician, Sax was aware of a tonal disparity between certain instruments. He noticed that there was a disparity between the strings and wind instruments and the brasses and woodwind instruments (The-Saxophone, 2012). To him, it appeared that the brasses overpower the woodwind and the winds were overpowering the string instruments. He saw a need for an instrument that would create a balance between the brass, woodwind, and the strings. Sax was looking for a sound that was somewhere between the clarinet in the trumpet. He experimented by combining several instruments together and through trial and error, he hit upon the right combination. He combined the body of a brass instrument with the mouthpiece of a woodwind instrument and the instrument that was to bear his name was born (The-Saxophone, 2012). The first saxophone created was a C base saxophone.
The saxophone immediately became a favorite of European military bands. This was an era when military bands were the fashion. Most instruments used by military bands in Europe at the time were oboes, bassoons, and French horns. In 1845, Sax, replaced these instruments in one French Army band with his B-flat and E flat saxophones and they immediately became an integral part of the French Army bands (The-Saxophone, 2012). Sax wanted to prove that using his instruments, the saxophones in a band would give better tonal consistency, then a band with saxophones. To prove this, Sax, suggested a play-all or as we know it today, a battle of the bands. He pitted his 28-piece band, which included his saxophones, along with other instruments against a French Army band consisting of 35 instruments and no saxophones (The-Saxophone, 2012). Sax’s band won the competition, and went on to become an integral part of all bands.
It is not known exactly what year the saxophone came to North America; however, it was featured in vaudeville acts around the turn of the century, but not as part of a band. In the US at the time, it was still a novelty item and was played as a standalone instrument space (Jazz Music History, 2012). The main woodwind or brasswind instrument in bands in the US at the time was the clarinet. Most clarinet players also played the saxophone, but as a minor instrument. About the same time, small bands or quartets as they were called were starting to play a type of music that was referred to as Jazz and the saxophone was bound to be the perfect woodwind instrument for the jazz quartet (Jazz Music History, 2012). The marriage of the small quartet and the saxophone, created in the first two decades of the 20th century what has become known as the jazz revolution (The-Saxophone, 2012). The saxophone since that time has been known as jazz saxophone.
Jazz, as a music style was born in the United States, in New Orleans, and it could be said that the saxophone is the father of it. The saxophone has allowed jazz players to create all different styles of jazz. There is smooth jazz, cool jazz, fusion jazz, Ragtime jazz, the original New Orleans style jazz, Chicago style jazz, soul jazz, Afro – Cuban jazz, bebop jazz, swing jazz, acid jazz, rock jazz, and funk jazz. Some of the greatest jazz players in the world played the saxophone. The first great jazz soloists, Sydney Bechet played the soprano saxophone. Coleman Hawkins, played tenor sax, Ben Webster played tenor sax, Lester Young played tenor sax, Charlie Parker, one of the greatest jazz musicians ever, played alto sax, John Haley Sims played tenor sax, and Cannonball Adderley played alto sax (Jazz Music History, 2020).
These early jazz musicians helped instill in American culture the love of the saxophone. Although 65 percent of all saxophones made in the world today are made outside of the United States (Taiwan), the saxophone has become synonymous with American music (The-Saxophone, 2012). Even though the saxophone was invented in the early 1800s in Europe, and is played around the world, through its association with American jazz music, it is thought of by many as an American instrument. Even though it was created for use in a big band, it has found its place in history as the premier small jazz quartet instrument of choice. The saxophone enabled jazz musicians to find and develop the sound that is distinctively jazz. It is as said earlier, an instrument that bridges the gap between the trumpet and the clarinet (The-Saxophone, 2012).
This instrument will use by countless future generations to come. Historians have shown that music in one form or another has been around since the beginning of time. It is logical to assume that future generations will have music and musical instruments. As much as the saxophone has been instrumental in establishing an iconic form of music that is synonymous with American culture, it is reasonable to forecast that future generations will continue to play the saxophone. The saxophone has undergone many changes since its creation in 1838. The C base saxophone was the first saxophone invented. Now we have the Sopraninos saxophone, the Sopranos saxophone (straight and curved), the Alto saxophone, Tenor saxophone, Baritone saxophone, and the Bass saxophone.
It is impossible to say what evolutions, this artifact of American culture will undergo in the future. As long as there is music and the need for music, musicians will continue to make changes to their instruments, trying to develop that ultimate sound. As the lead instrument and an iconic form of American music, it is not hard to imagine the saxophone undergoing continuous change in the future, as musicians strive to achieve that perfect sound. It is not hard to imagine two or three hundred years in the future, archaeologists digging at a site somewhere in America and unearthing a jazz saxophone.

References:
The-saxophone.com. (2012). The history of the saxophone. Retrieved from Http://www.the-saxophone.com/history-of-the-saxophone.html
The-saxophone.com. (2012). Jazz saxophone. Retrieved from Http://www.the-saxophone.com/jazz-saxophone.html
Jazz music history. (2012). Saxophone history through great jazz saxophone players starts with a look at the history of the instrument. Retrieved from http://www.jazz-music-history.com/saxophone-history.html

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