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In the first fully comprehensive study of one of the world's most iconic musical instruments, Stephen Cottrell examines the saxophone's various social, historical, and cultural trajectories, and illustrates how and why this instrument, with its idiosyncratic shape and sound, became important for so many different music-makers around the world. After considering what led inventor Adolphe Sax to develop this new musical wind instrument, Cottrell explores changes in saxophone design since the 1840s before examining the instrument's role in a variety of contexts: in the military bands that contributed so much to the saxophone's global dissemination during the nineteenth century; as part of the rapid expansion of American popular music around the turn of the twentieth century; in classical and contemporary art music; in world and popular music; and, of course, in jazz, a musical style with which the saxophone has become closely identified.