The Bebop Revolution

12 December 2017

Music and Ideas, Jazz Lecturer: Paul O Donned Submission Date: 21-January-2011 Revolution; the forcible overthrow of a government or social order, In favor of a new system’. [1] The 1 sass saw one of the greatest musical revolutions of the 20th century, the transition of swing to bebop.

Although the exact origins of the name are ambiguous, it is widely accepted that the name bears relation to scat singing, a nonsense syllabic phrase employed by voice improvisations.Originally, the syllables ‘rebel’ and ‘bebop’ had appeared many scat singing solos. The style has been named In relation to this tradition due to the similarities In their performance- freedom and opportunities to improvise are common to each. One of the most Influential bebop players, Dizzy Gillespie, noted how audiences would not know the name of the song and instead request ‘bebop’, [3] and so the term was coined. Bebop saw the beginning of a new and exciting form of Jazz performance. In Scott Yawns words, the name is really a tribute to the music’s rhythmic nature and spontaneity. [2] Swing, possibly one of the all-time most popular genres of North American music, suffered a decline from 1944 onwards.

Due to the recording strike by the Musicians union, no new records were created for some labels for a period of almost 2 years. [2] This time saw an increase in singers who, up to this point, rarely the opportunity to contribute In a Big Band environment. Moreover, wartime America had a greater need for ‘soothing and nostalgic ballads. [2] The close of the ass saw the release of the recording Body and Soul [4] by Coleman Hawkins.This piece marked the beginning of the bebop revolution. Unlike the usual conventions of swing, Body and Soul saw the Increase of Improvisation and the use of double time. Despite barely hinted at the melody, Hawkins conveyed avid forms of improvisation.

The emphasis on the chord structure rather than the melody leading up to a solo became a hallmark for future bebop pieces to come. [2] Bebop saw the downfall of Swing in many ways. For example, in large big band ensembles, some musicians began to be discontent with the lack of space for soloing.Bebop ensembles employed smaller numbers (usually a quintet) as opposed to big band where ten or more players performed. Unlike swing, where simple 2 or 4 bar phrases of Improvisation was usually the case, bebop utilized uneven numbers of bars and overlapping phrases. The rhythm section also began to receive greater priority, beating out a strong four to the bar pulse. Also, in swing there was commonly no need for a bassist whereas bebop strongly needed a bass.

By 1 946, The Big Band tradition was officially dead.Many factors such as competition from other styles (Dixieland, rhythm and blues and taxes and unfortunately, and the ‘certain predictability that had crept into swing. ‘ [2] Bebop also differed to straightforward swing in style. Bebop’s style was more experimental and, in the most positive way possible, unrestrained. Tempos were fast, phrasing asymmetrical, intricate melodies were played and far greater importance was placed on the rhythm section. Swing was generally associated with big band and once, while bebop was all about improvisation and soloing.Bebop performers however usually took the chord progressions of popular swing pieces and improvised over them- showing the close link between the two styles despite the differences.

Moreover, bebop players usually incorporated harmonic devices such as substitution, where one replaces a simpler chord with a more complicated one like a flattened ninth, sharpened ninth or the trio-tone. Unfortunately, bebop did not appear to be as popular as swing, despite influencing pop and virtually every style of non-classical music. ] To audiences it sounded too foreign and different, and due to the recording strike, they never had the opportunity to be eased into the style gradually- so it is quite understandable that it came as somewhat of a shock. Likewise, as Bebop is rebellious in nature many musicians did not give into or conform to commercial pressures, therefore their potential to record and sell was drastically cut. [2] In addition, due to the lack of bebop singers the audience could not relate to music as there were no lyrics. There was also a lack of participation as one cannot dance to bebop.Ironically, similar to Swing, Bebop also suffered from competition from other styles.

(Such as Dixieland, rhythm and blues and pop singers- the very same styles that overtook Swing) Finally, after World War Two, Veterans were more concerned starting and raising a family than going out to enjoy music. The rise of the television also saw the reduction in people going out to clubs and bars. [2] However, to musicians, Bebop saw the start of an exciting and experimental side of Jazz music. After the ass, bebop was further developed by artists such as Clifford Brown, Sonny Sit and Fats Innovator.Bebop is still found to be played throughout the world, and still remains a popular genre of music. The ‘rebellious’ nature of the music influenced many mediums; certain poets had a Jazz player accompany them at readings and the non conformist ideals of ‘hippies’ bears close resemblance to the ideals of bebop. In the modern scene, bebop has influenced hip hop and rap performances, and many samples of playing can be found on modern recordings.

In conclusion, the world has seen many styles come and go- it is all Just a natural process in the evolution and placement of music.

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