How did the saxophone become a “flirting” instrument?

In English, the difference between sax and “sex” is only one letter. It may be a coincidence, but enough people believe it.

When searching for romantic music, you can’t live without the saxophone. It is also often used in music and movies to suggest romance or heartbreak.

There are also many people who have similar questions on the Internet. Many people try to start from the characteristics of the saxophone itself. For example, the saxophone itself is a bit like a genital; another example, its low and slow tone is easily reminiscent of the private space of the bedroom. It is even mentioned that in ancient mythology, the music of the faun and the piper is not too high-pitched, while in Tibetan music, the bass is almost directly related to sexual desire.

Of course the music companies are glad people have this association, a lot of the covers of the saxophone collection are a bit inappropriate, and you certainly can’t blame Kenny G entirely for that.

The book you want to read is Stephen Cottrell’s The Saxophone. It has a chapter called “The Saxophone as a Logo and Icon”.

It has been associated with it long before Sax was associated with sex in the public image. In the early days of jazz, the saxophone played an important role, so it was also involved in the struggle against racism in the United States and Europe.

The saxophone was invented to solve a problem that Belgian Adolphe Sax found in bass wind instruments, so he made this instrument named after himself. The saxophone itself emerged from an age of modernity, innovation, exploration and experimentation, attributes that became key to the saxophone’s most attention in the 19th century.

As early as April 22, 1846, on the Champ de Mars under the Eiffel Tower in Paris, a competition between Adolphe Sax’s band and a traditional band led by Carafa was held, and the audience decided the winner. Dramatically, the musicians who supported Aldolphe were even absent that day, and they could only take two saxophones to play alternately. The new band’s musical effect completely outperformed the traditional band, and the audience completely fell on Aldolphe’s side. So the saxophone first emerged in the marching band.

Subsequently, in concerts in Europe and the United States, this new instrument was combined with a smooth commercial performance, and its novel appearance and sound became a means of monetization, and even became the representative of the exotic instrument among Western audiences.

But soon, an interesting twist took place.

There is no doubt that, as early as the first half of the 20th century, the saxophone was closely associated with dance music and jazz because of its popularity. But at the same time, this whole new instrument has been called into question, just like rock, punk, hip-hop after it – an instrument that old school thinks is anti-moral and used by gangsters to create spiritual pollution Yes, especially with the rise of jazz, the anger of the old school has come to a head.

For example, in 1925, the editor of the magazine Etude observed that “in its sinister aspect, jazz greatly injures young minds and bodies. Perhaps this is the explanation for the current high crime rate in the United States”. This sentiment was widely expressed in music publications in the first half of the 20th century, and is still present today.

It is worth mentioning that the “discrimination” against wind instruments occurred as early as the Middle Ages. It was regarded as the invention of Diogenes, the god of wine, so the wind instruments produced later were inevitably considered to be morally corrupt, such as the bagpipe.

In the age of erotic dance, the way to identify a nascent culture in jazz clubs was whether it involved drug consumption and promiscuity, which deepened Sax’s incrimination. Trumpets, trombones, double basses or pianos have long been “legitimate”, and their backgrounds are sufficiently classic and “upright” to be seen as, at best, an accidental error. And Sachs has no such capital, it will be directly identified as the main “murderer” and thus convicted.

As a result, a series of deeply negative views about Sachs emerged. Defenders of the “Western musical tradition” believe that dance music and jazz are inherently evil.

Religious institutions are similarly skeptical of Sachs. In 1948, in Worcestershire, England, the church did not allow saxophone solos in church. Eric Nuzum points out in the book “American Music Review” that when the saxophone became popular in the 1920s, it was called “the devil’s flute” by many people because its deep, seductive sound might turn a little girl off. He also quotes a passage from The Times of London in May 1933 –

“[Saxophone] is a vile infiltration, aggression and coaxing. It’s like a silent but ambitious little actor who takes every opportunity to get in. It’s blatant, ambiguous, like a mix of honey powder and chili powder . . . It’s like a girl’s crush on an afternoon movie icon.”

Of course, it’s all about race, too.

In the southern states of the United States in the 20th century, ethnic tensions also hindered the spread of North American culture around the world.

So, at a time when the saxophone is a big part of almost every jazz band, it’s still tied to the “African-American” identity.

The tradition of being associated with dark-skinned performers by the saxophone may have come out of the United States long before jazz. Because the saxophone has been associated with the dark-skinned races of “Turkish” and “exotic” from its inception, this deliberate attempt to cultivate a sense of mystery has ultimately made it sideways.

Harry Haller, the protagonist of Hesse’s “Steppenwolf,” meets saxophonist Pablo in a jazz club, a Creole of “beautiful exotic demigod love” who has devoted his life to pleasure. At one point in the novel, Pablo declares that “every time I hold the mouthpiece (of the saxophone) and play a lively dance piece, it always brings joy to people, it gets into their hands, feet and blood”. This is the first time in literature that the saxophone, the dark-skinned foreigner, and the pleasure of being somatic are combined, and it also shows that these keywords were so related in Germany at the time.

Then came the Nazi era. Happily, Sachs angered the Nazis. On the one hand, the saxophone itself is a glorious European invention; on the other hand, from their point of view, it is an alien musical instrument, and once they embrace the saxophone, they may be misunderstood for their values ​​related to some kind of alien race.

Much like the racial unconscious that connects African-Americans to the saxophone, the saxophone has long been associated with human instincts, especially the carnal instincts, which were pretty much the darkest side of human culture in the 1920s. Because of its timbre, the saxophone was described as a “groan” in early jazz and dance music. In 1921 one commentator noted that “the groans of the saxophone and the jerky, broken rhythms of other instruments combined into pure sensual appeal … which formed the basis of jazz as erotic dance music”.

And when the blues became more popular, the saxophone sound entered the film industry.

In old Hollywood movies, the actress’s first sexual act is often covered by the saxophone. Bollywood has also learned the cliché very quickly, especially when the heroines are not in good shape.

The connection between sex and saxophone quickly “sublimates” from the movies to every corner of life, and all the bootleg compilations of saxophone music will suggest you that you’ll get more than the music.

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