A saxophone, also referred to as the sax, is a musical instrument that belongs to the woodwind family. Mostly, they are made of brass and are played by the mouth. Adolph Sax, from Belgium, was the founder of the saxophone, and he came up with this instrument in the year 1840. The saxophones were made of different series and the most popular one today was meant to be used by the military band. Apart from being used in military bands, saxophones are mostly used in classical and jazz genres of music. People who play the saxophone are referred to as saxophonists (Howe, 2003, p.97).
The 1920s was an era of political and social change in America. More Americans had moved and lived in the cities than in farms. During this decade, the total wealth of America doubled, and this growth of the economy changed the lifestyle of most Americans. People started buying some particular type of goods and the mode of people’s dressing was skewed towards a particular style. They listened to a particular kind of music, made a similar kind of dance moves, and even used a common type of slang. A good number of citizen did not like the new culture and believed that it brought more conflict than good in the society. However, there is still a small portion of individuals who thought that the adopted way of life was a roaring one. Jazz was very popular type of music in the 1920s. Saxophones, on the other hand, were the most used instruments used to play jazz genre of music. Therefore, the use of saxophones were very popular in the 1920s, also referred to as the roaring twenties.
Between the years 1920 and 1930, most bands adopted the use of saxophones while performing their music (Martin & Waters, 2005, p.175). There was a change in the number of saxophones used in these period from the previous times. Before the 1900s, most musical bands used a single saxophone in making and performing their music. They either used the tenor, alto, or the C melody saxophones. However, around the 1920s, most bands adopted the use of two to three types of saxophones in while recording and performing their music. This trend advanced with time and around 1926, some bands used up to five types of saxophones.
United Kingdom, United States, and Canada referred to their 1920s as the Roaring twenties. This is a period that came after the First World War and both politics and their economies had regained normalcy. The way of life of people in these regions changed significantly as well as their culture to. People became sophisticated in their mode of communication, movement, and dressing. Women for instance, in most countries, gained the right to vote. One good example of a group of women who showed a change in lifestyle was the Flappers. These were a group of young women who had a distinct style of dressing in short skirts, had a specific style of making their hair, listened to jazz music, and their life was generally considered as going against the socially accepted behaviour. They wore high cost jewellery, had a habit of drinking and smoking, drove themselves in flashy vehicles, and indulged in casual sexual behaviours. Flappers came about in the Roaring Twenties period when there was a general change in lifestyle of the people in the affected regions (Moore, 2010, p.65).
One of the notable change if lifestyle in the 1920s was the type of music people listened to. Jazz became very popular. Jazz saxophone was the incorporation of saxophone into Jazz music. Jazz saxophonists were individuals who blended the use of saxophone into Jazz music. Jazz saxophonists became celebrities in 1920s, the roaring twenties. Sidney Bechet, born in 1879 and died in 1959, was an iconic jazz saxophonist in the roaring twenties. He is believed to be the first to come up with the concept of using saxophone in the virtual form. He mostly played the soprano type of saxophone, and he improvised the bluesy style of playing saxophone. Bechet played a great role in improving the use of saxophone in the early stages of incorporating the instrument into jazz style of music.
Frankie Trumbauer, 1901 to 1956, is another iconic figure in jazz music in the roaring twenties. In most cases, Trumbauer played alongside Bix Beiderbecke, a famous trumpeter. Trumbauer refined jazz when he introduced hot jazz. In the 1920s, he became famous for recording a song known as “Singing the Blues”. In this tune, he made use of the C-Melody type of saxophone which is midway between the alto and tenor. Most saxophonists emulated his type style of singing of using a dry and calm tone.
Coleman Hawkins, 1904 to 1969, is yet another famous jazz saxophonist. He used the tenor saxophone and was among the first to embrace the use of virtuosos on the tenor type of saxophone. In the roaring twenties, he became more popular because of his melodic creativity and aggressive tone. He played in an orchestra known as Fletcher Henderson in which he stood out in most sessions. Hawkins worked with another famous saxophonist Johnny Hodges, 1906 to 1970. Hodges led the Duke Ellington Orchestra for 38 years. In the roaring twenties, he was famous for his bright timbre and fast vibrato tones.
There are songs, which used saxophones as the instrument, that were very popular in the roaring twenties. One of them is the “Whistling Blues” by J. Diamond that was produced in 1921. The introduction of this song is made of four bar and two bar vamp. The song makes use of stress and repetition of some notes by the saxophone. Another song is the “Shimmy like My Sister Kate” by A. J. Piron. This song was released in 1922 and was one of the major tunes that rocked the roaring twenties.
This error of a transformed economic and political structures that in turn caused a transformed way of life and culture came to an end in 1929. This is due to the fall and crash of Wall Street that caused economic disturbances. The economic status of these regions went down, and the lifestyle went down to.
Howe, R. S. (2003). The Invention and early development of the saxophone, 1840-55'.
Martin, H., & Waters, K. (2005). Jazz: The first 100 years (Vol. 1). Cengage Learning.
Moore, L. (2010). Anything goes: A biography of the roaring twenties. New York: Overlook