Big-band swing evolved directly from the jazz- influenced dance orchestras of the 1920’s 2 most important developments were the expansion and the transformation of dance orchestra and the fundamental change in the rhythmic foundation of the music. 1940: Duke Ellington orchestrated ko-ko with 15 musicians using 2 trumpets and a cornet (relative of the trumpet), 3 trombones (2 slide and one valve), 5 saxophones (alto, tenor, baritone), 4 rhythm instruments (guitar, piano, bass and drums).
The expansion of the dance orchestra coincided with an increase in the use of riffs. Riffs became more repetitive and more pervasive It was like a conversation among the sections which traded riffs back and forth. This mimics the long standing African practice of call and response heard in a wide range of black vernacular music. Normally following is one or more sections of supported solos with riffs. The foundation for the stacks of riffs generated by the horn section was the steady pulse laid down by the rhythmic section.
Between the 30’s and 40’s is where the main transformation was made. Banjo was now guitar, tuba was now string bass and the drum set gained the hi-hat cymbal. The changes reflected in shift from two=beat foxtrot to four-beat string. The backbeat wasn’t eliminated, just altered and more subtle. The string bass and guitar were the two instruments alternating on the beat and back beat. Mainly, swing-era guitarists often would strum on the first and third beat and down on the 2 nd and 4 th beats. The main element in swing rhythm is the persistent timekeeping by a full rhythm section supporting the extensive syncopation in the riffs and the call-response between each section.
Because of the limited amount of freedoms African Americans had during the great depression, it didn’t affect them as harshly. Some were able to play in bands and get by. They were the source of big-band swing. Fletcher Henderson (1997-1952) Came from a black middle class family in Georgia. Learned music from his mother and piano teacher. Came north in the 1870’s to study chemistry but later found work as a song-plugger for Pace-Handy music company. He later became a jack-of-all-trades for Harry Pace’s black swan records. During the 1920’s he led one of the top bands in new york. They played at the Roseland Ballroom and made it a hot spot. Some scholars deflect the fame from Henderson and aim it towards those who helped him arrange for his band: Don Redman and Benny Carter. Fletcher Henderson and the Roots of Big-Band Swing
The truth might never be known who truly deserves the credit… Either way, Henderson was in the business for more than 20 years, bringing in some of the best black jazzmen of all time, such as: Louis Armstrong Coleman Hawkins Lester Young Continued… His most important impact was his arrangements that Goodman used to popularize swing. 1934 recording of “Wrappin’ It Up” Swing syncopation over a steady four-beat rhythm. Rhythm section lays down the beat, and the horns play a simple riff that is out of phase with the beat. Swing results from the conflict between the beat and syncopated riff…
Charlie Christian Charlie Christian (1916-1942) Black guitarist Played in Goodman’s band Good at improvising One of the first to play the electric guitar Died at 25 from tuberculosis Couldn't play at Washington and Lee College, had to play during intermissions Discriminated against.
Benny Goodman Benny Goodman (1909-1986): King of Swing Lived for music Famous for being the leader of one of the most popular swing- era big bands. Interrogated the bandstand more than any other white musician of his time.
Jazz performance as a popular song Big-band recordings and the time keeping rhythm section that was the foundation of swing music Both connections of swing are used, rhythmic and swing as a style. I Found a New Baby
Edward “Duke” Ellington (1899-1974) most distinctive Big Band of the swing era “KO-KO” Master composer of jazz with vibrant and varied timbres (trumpets, trombones and sax), exotic harmonies, careful use of register and dynamics, clear sense of pacing Gave structure to jazz Unique sound with 3 key principals 1. His own musical imagination 1. His own musical imagination 2. Apprenticeship in New York Nightclubs 2. Apprenticeship in New York Nightclubs 3. Core of Musicians 3. Core of Musicians Glenn Miller (1904-1944) most popular big band of the era moved effortlessly between swing and sweet “In the mood hit” (swing) “Moonlight serenade” (sweet) “Chatanooga Choo Choo” Vocal, special effects, riffs, syncopation, and growled/smeared/bent notes firm four beat rhythm at a brisk tempo The kind of song that puts smiles on faces
RCA (a record label) created first gold record when they coated “Chatanooga Choo Choo” with gold lacquer swing era ended after Miller’s death swing brought a new and welcome energy to popular music lifted people’s spirit as America lifted itself out of the depression Swing had a strong four-beat rhythmic foundation plus a lot of syncopation which gave it its drive its energy was not so much a function of temp as it is rhythmic activity swing as jazz was mostly instrumental swing era dances jitterbugging Lindy-hopping swing split off in 3 directions 1. Jazz-Influence popular singing 2. Bebop 3. upbeat rhythm and blues