Calvin Stopes and his Sixteen Sexophonists
From the classic dystopian novel, Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley, 1932.
The electric sky-signs effectively shut off the outer darkness. 'CALVIN STOPES AND HIS SIXTEEN SEXOPHONISTS.' From the facade of the new Abbey the giant letters invitingly glared. 'LONDON'S FINEST SCENT AND COLOUR ORGAN. ALL THE LATEST SYNTHETIC Music.'
They entered. The air seemed hot and somehow breathless with the scent of ambergris and sandalwood. On the domed ceiling of the hall, the colour organ had momentarily painted a tropical sunset. The Sixteen Sexophonists were playing an old favourite: 'There ain't no Bottle in all the world like that dear little Bottle of mine.' Four hundred couples were five-stepping round the polished floor. Lenina and Henry were soon the four hundred and first. The sexophones wailed like melodious cats under the moon, moaned in the alto and tenor registers as though the little death were upon them. Rich with a wealth of harmonics, their tremulous chorus mounted towards a climax, louder and ever louder-until at last, with a wave of his hand, the conductor let loose the final shattering note of ether-music and blew the sixteen merely human blowers clean OUT of existence. Thunder in A flat major. And then, in all but silence, in all but darkness, there followed a gradual deturgescence, a diminuendo sliding gradually, through quarter, tones, down, down to a faintly whispered dominant chord that lingered on (while the five-four rhythms still pulsed below) charging the darkened seconds with an intense expectancy. And at last expectancy was fulfilled. There was a sudden explosive sunrise, and simultaneously, the Sixteen burst into song:
Bottle of mine, it's you I've always wanted!
Bottle of mine, why was I ever decanted?
Skies are blue inside of you,
The weather's always fine;
There ain't no Bottle in all the world
Like that dear little Bottle of mine.
Five-stepping with the other four hundred round and round Westminster Abbey, Lenina and Henry were yet dancing in another world-the warm, the richly coloured, the infinitely friendly world of soma-holiday. How kind, how good-looking, how delightfully amusing everyone was! 'Bottle of mine, it's you I've always wanted ... ' But Lenina and Henry had what they wanted . . . They were inside, here and now-safely inside with the fine weather, the perennially blue sky. And when, exhausted, the Sixteen had laid by their sexophones and the Synthetic Music apparatus was producing the very latest in slow Malthusian Blues...