'Unacknowledged ubiquity': the saxophone in popular music

Honnold, Adrianne Lee (2021). 'Unacknowledged ubiquity': the saxophone in popular music. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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What connotations are evoked when a saxophone solo or riff is heard in a mainstream hit such as Jason Derulo’s 'Talk Dirty', Kendrick Lamar’s 'Alright', or Katy Perry’s 'Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)'? This project investigates the ways in which the saxophone and saxophonists shape perceptions surrounding contemporary popular music and culture in the United States via the instrument's historical and symbolic associations by utilising ethnographic data and media discourses to frame the analysis of three case studies. Musical instruments act as expressive, meaningful cultural artefacts and intermediaries of socially assigned characteristics in music, and three overarching themes are examined here that the saxophone has historically represented in commercial contexts: the concepts of cool and kitsch; gendered identities and sexuality related to the saxophone and its performance; and considerations of race in American popular music. The outcome of this study is an illustration of the ways in which the saxophone operates as a consequential aural, visual, and social component of contemporary mainstream music. Examining the role of the collective voice of prominent professional saxophonists in relation to the implication of the instrument in mainstream discourses serves to augment the scholarship related to both the saxophone and popular music by presenting data collected in interviews of musicians that have previously been under-represented in scholarly studies.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
Licence: All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of Languages, Cultures, Art History and Music, Department of Music
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: E History America > E151 United States (General)
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
M Music and Books on Music > M Music
URI: http://etheses.bham.ac.uk/id/eprint/11843


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