Unformatted text preview: Music of the Swing Era circa 19301945 Preliminaries "Swing" is the generic term used for jazz and other popular music of the era. Swing was the popular music of the generation that came of age in the Great Depression through WWII. The Swing Era is also known as the golden age of big band music. What is a "big band"? Watch this clip of the Count Basie Orchestra to find out. New Skills Required of Musicians Sections, lead players ensemble playing
Rhythmic Precision Blend Emphasis on music reading ability Roles of ArrangerComposer and Bandleader are critical What about improvisation? Changing Roles in the Rhythm Section Early jazz "twobeat" bass replaced with a walking bass Hihat introduced in 1927 drummers stop pounding bass drum on all four beats, use the hihat to create more subtle, swinging propulsion Mr Hihat Open, beats 1&3; close, beats 2&4 Softer, more supple acoustic guitar replaces the banjo in all jazz bands. (Electric arrives in `36.) Compare "East St. Louis ToodleOo" in early and swing versions by Duke Ellington's band Some Common Traits of Good Swing Big Band Arrangements...
The Writer Creates a Skillful AND creative balance/counterpoint between the instrumental sections of the band. (simple example call and response, or antiphony) Balance between composed and improvised sections. Idiomatic writing for the instruments "Down South Camp Meeting" Classic Big Band Arrangement By Fletcher Henderson (cd 1, track 64) Review the structure, and techniques in the piece (pp. 9394) Listen for them. "Head" Arrangements Swing bands also created and developed arrangements semispontaneously on the bandstand, and these arr's would evolve over time. Often created from a popular 32 bar song (such as "I Got Rhythm" and the like) or from a basic 12 bar blues (One O'clock Jump). Swing Music & American Society 1930's Great Depression Radio's Rise in American Culture Americans had a taste for hopeful themes in their entertainment music was optimistic, confirming More sophistication less frivolity/party atmosphere than early commercial jazz During the depression, people spent less on entertainment free commercial radio became very popular and influential Swing Music & American Society WWII Swing musicians fully involved in WWII active duty, USO or propaganda/ morale on the homefront Glenn Miller Icon of the WWII generation What are some of the possibilities this music signify so much MEANING to people of this generation? This was a generation that came of age during an economic depression, and had to go to war to stop the spread of fascism. Music can serve to remind us of our humanity during those times when we question humanity most. (Burns Film clip) Jazz in Occupied Europe Goebbels "the art of the subhuman" Swing = American to Europe's "Swing Kids" German soldiers listening to American jazz Goebbels response to Allied broadcasts Another war, another profit, another Jewish business trick, Another season, another reason for makin' whoopee! We throw our German names away, We are the kikes of USA. You are the goys, folks, We are the boys, folks -- We're makin' whoopee! Harlem Dance Bands in the 20's
Fletcher Henderson was a pioneer in the genre of big band jazz in the 20's. His band Don Redman and others like it were based in Harlem. They made records, and performed at the Nightclubs/speakeasies in Harlem. Harlem Dance Bands in the 20's The early Duke Ellington Band Henderson, Ellington and other jazz musicians in Harlem began to create larger, more sophisticated swing jazz bands in the mid20's to 30's (Cotton Club) Sometimes three saxophones, two trumpets, two trombones, bass/sousaphone, piano, banjo, drums Fletcher Henderson Orchestra
(photo from 1925) In 1925, Louis Armstrong becomes the "hot jazz" soloist in Fletcher Hendersons' Harlem-based dance band. In Manhattan... Paul Whiteman hired Bix Biederbecke and Frank Trambauer into his Society Dance Orchestra in '25 to blend improvised jazz with elaborate arrangements of Whiteman's popular dance music Whiteman's legacy
Whiteman's entrepreneurship helped fuel the initial popularity of big band jazz and especially swing dancing in mainstream culture His series of jazz concerts at places like Carnegie Hall introduced the rest of America to the music of American composers like Ellington, and Fats Waller The Popularity of Swing Dancing LindyHop (VIDEO): highenergy, physicallydemanding style of dancing, very popular in the 30's and into the 40's Burns: Disc 5, ch 14 The Golden Age of Big Bands: 193545 The band that started the swing craze nationally with America's youth was The Benny Goodman Orchestra in 193435. How did Goodman become the "King of Swing"?
Before Stardom Burns, Disc 3, track 3134 Brings Swing to the Mainstream Disc 5, ch 79 Benny Goodman Orchestra Goodman moves to NY, starts band First white band to perform "Hot" swing arrangements (by Fletcher Henderson) became very popular locally Goodman utilized the possibilities of radio as a marketing tool better than any other band had to that point "house band" for NBC's "Let' Dance" radio program. Goodman's Treatment of Musicians Goodman grew up poor in Chicago, and worked hard for everything had empathy for black musicians deprived of equal rewards for their work "King of Swing" eventually garnered enough popularity and power to become the first racially integrated, popular band Had zero tolerance for slackers reputation as a tyrant Goodman's Band, featuring Harry James (tpt) and Gene Krupa (drums) on "Sing, Sing, Sing" Technology Advances in Music Performance Microphones PA Systems Allow singers like Bing Crosby to sing and record with big bands The rise of "crooners" (e.g. Sinatra) Rise of women singers fronting big bands Billie Holiday Advancements in Recording Technology advances in disc recording had significant impact on the quality of recorded music during the big band era Other Important Bandleaders Other bandleaders like Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, Lionel Hampton, Duke Ellington and Count Basie were to become household names, and have lifelong success as musicians. Watch Burns, disc 5, ch 2225 Glenn Miller Band Memorable melodist, simple and direct fine soloists (Harry James), excellent section players with precision and style "String of Pearls" and "In the Mood" Tommy Dorsey Band Tommy Dorsey #1 big band trombone player Came from Goodman's original band "Stars" in his band include Frank Sinatra, and the drummer Buddy Rich Krupa and Rich Battle Buddy plays Sesame Street Lionel Hampton High Energy "Show" Band Popular, "harderedged" jazz played with sophistication and precision "Jazz is art. Swing is business."
Economic reality in the "Golden Age of Swing" In this famous quote, Ellington acknowledges the realities most jazz artists of the swing era understood... the mostrespected musicians weren't always the most popular, or the most successful financially. the immense popularity of swing had as much to do with danceable music and star quality as it did with creative artistry. Jazz musicians kept exploring and creating new standards and challenges in their art improvisation and composition even as they acknowledged and served the "popular" needs of their audiences. Duke Ellington WHO IS DUKE ELLINGTON? (next) ...
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This note was uploaded on 04/08/2008 for the course MUSC 175 taught by Professor Spittal during the Spring '08 term at Gonzaga.
- Spring '08