Swing And Bebop. Essay

1410 words - 6 pages

In this essay, I intend to distinguish the most important features of Swing and Bebop, how they developed and in so doing, ascertain how the two styles differed. Subsequently, I hope to understand why Bebop was not as successful an approach as the popularity of Swing despite their relationship.The swing era began during the late 1920's and dominated until well into the 1940's. The music was quite different to earlier jazz in many ways such as the use of bands of ten or more men requiring more focus on written arrangements and less on collective improvisation. The music consisted of a stronger swing atmosphere, accomplished with an augmented use of swing eighth-note patterns. As a result, there was a smoother rhythmic feeling in swing. In the song, 'It Don't Mean A Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)' by Lionel Hampton, we can evidently hear the swing eighth-note patterns and the distinct sections of the big band.The use of the 'Big Band' as it was consequently named, was 'invented' by the composers / arrangers Fletcher Henderson and Don Redman. The most prominent of these big bands were led by Fletcher Henderson, Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Benny Goodman (the 'King of Swing'). Primarily, it consisted of a brass section of four trumpets and four trombones, a reed section of around five saxophones, which could be doubled on clarinet if it was required, and a rhythm section of piano, guitar, bass and drums. It was during this era that instruments such as bass viols and the hi-hat cymbals became much more significant but most important were the increasing use of saxophones. In extract (a), we can hear the swing notes on the hi-hat behind the trumpet solo sections. Although, in this song the saxophones feature mainly in sections as an answer to the trumpet solos, in extract (b), there is a short saxophone solo as well.'The man generally considered to be the father of jazz tenor saxophone is Coleman Hawkins... Hawkins's deep-toned, husky command of the horn brought it recognition. Tenor sax became one of the most popular instruments in jazz.'Gridley, M.C. (1988:97)The new style became exceptionally popular very quickly and this was due to a number of reasons. The first of which was that it was much faster and had a more rhythmic feel of music that made it easier to listen to and consequently it attracted many dancers. The big bands of the 1930's were the popular music of the time synonymous to the popularity of rock bands throughout the 1950's and 1960's. In the same way as these latter styles, the main attraction of the fans were the good-looking singers and easy, danceable beat more than the quality of instrumentation and improvisation. Even so, at the beginning, the main fan base for swing consisted of a largely black following and the market only increased to include a white audience later in the 1930's.'... white audiences took much longer to be won over...It wasn't until jazz had been thoroughly sterilized and sanitized by the white imitators...

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