Doctor of Musical Arts Dissertations


Analyzing the Intersections of Saxophone and Digital Media Through Media Theory

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)


Contemporary Music

First Advisor

John Sampen (Advisor)

Second Advisor

Ryan Ebright (Committee Member)

Third Advisor

Mikel Kuehn (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

Jerry Schnepp (Other)


The saxophone is relatively young compared to other instruments of the band and orchestra. Because the instrument is less constricted by traditional repertoire, composers looking to push the boundaries of concert music eagerly write for the saxophone, and saxophonists willingly experiment with new combinations of performance media. An exponential increase of works written for saxophone and multimedia has occurred since the 1960s. This increase in multimedia works for saxophone has paralleled a digital media revolution, manifested through advancements in recording, interactive media, and communication technologies. This document examines the synthesis of saxophone performance and the digital media revolution, elaborating upon existing repertoire for saxophone and digital media in a non-comprehensive manner, with emphasis placed upon electroacoustic works for saxophone and video.

Possibilities for multimedia performance are rapidly expanding within the saxophone’s repertoire. A poignant example, Matthew Burtner’s meta-saxophone project combines motion tracking, accelerometers, and other technologies with the physical saxophone, creating a cyborg instrument. In this situation, Burtner is an auteur, acting simultaneously as the composer, performer, technologist, and sometimes visual artist, all while using the saxophone as the crux of expression. Other composers and artists take a collaborative approach while using saxophone and digital media. These combinations of saxophone and digital media create a new and exciting medium in concert performance. Yet, the combination of live performance and digital medium lacks scholarly analysis. While existing research provides valuable analysis from a performer’s perspective, further examination of the interactions between mediums can reveal new potential and meaning. The introduction of elements of media theory and analysis to saxophone repertoire, using specific repertoire as micro-case-studies, will widen the artistic understanding and conversation between saxophonists, composers, and collaborators involved in multimedia projects.