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Transition From Swing To Bebop In Jazz.

2171 words - 9 pages

Swing to Bebop: Inherent Social ChangesThe 1920's and 1930's were a period for unprecedented African American contributions to the music world. The twenties, which have now been termed "the jazz age", laid the foundation for jazz as a marketable mainstream fascination. Throughout the twenties and thirties, dances such as the Charleston, Lindy Hop, and Jitterbug helped to secure the big band profession in entertainment. Swing emerged as a genre formulated on a swinging 4/4 beat with live performances completely written-out and arranged. During the 1940's a new form of jazz emerged known as bebop. Bebop is largely attributed to the efforts of John Birks "Dizzy" Gillespie and Charlie Parker. The emergence of bebop was not a sharp transition. Rather, it was the natural evolution of jazz that merely caught on and became popularized due to social circumstances of the time.In the early parts of the twentieth century, Reconstruction hopes had been dashed by race riots, lynchings, disfranchisement, the spread of Jim Crow laws, declining educational opportunities, and the exclusion of black labor from skilled industries making it clear that white America had renounced any responsibility for the welfare of the black population. Many black leaders during the period advocated a self-improvement position. Booker T. Washington's Tuskegee plan argued that mastery of a skill was the only way to improve the situation of African Americans. In 1910, James Reese Europe founded the Clef Club which was a self help organization designed to secure the music trade for as much of Harlem as possible by pooling resources and rationalizing business practices. Unfortunately, the Clef Club became the aristocracy of the black music world who played in exclusive hotels and society dance gigs by the 1920's.In the 1920's, when the economy was on the rise, many families trained their children in the musical profession. Dizzy Gillespie, born in 1917, said "my father...didn't know I was going to be a musician, but he tried to beat it into the rest of my older brothers and sisters, and they wouldn't go for it." Although original jazz musicians of the 1920's targeted a mainly white audience, black communities supported musical careers, as they were opportunities for self-improvement as well as opportunities for blacks to contribute virtues of music and rhythm.During the era prior to swing jazz, black musicians rarely had any type of formal musical education. Even players of more established instruments could not always count on a ready-made body of instruction. Students often relied on informal training from their parents and their peers. Obviously, this limited what the musicians could achieve. However, during the swing era jazz still evolved. On top of the shift from a 2/4 to a 4/4 beat, the role of the bandleader also changed. Typically, the bandleader had been responsible for conducting the band. During the twenties and into the thirties the conducting bandleaders developed into...

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