“Bebop”, or “Bop”, is a form of Jazz that began to circulate during the 1940’s and is widely recognised as a fast tempo, highly improvised derivation of Swing Jazz of the 1930’s. The term “Bebop” itself is derived from the scat singing used within the aforementioned genre as “Bebop” and “Rebop” were common and, occasionally, interchanged phrases within the music. It hasn’t influenced many genres out with Jazz (“West Coast Jazz”, “Modal Jazz” and “Cool Jazz” all being seen as developed from the styles and unpredictability of their predecessor) but has arguably touched one genre, Rock, in the form of powerful and complicated solos.
The common Jazz progression of II – V – I isn’t a well-used feature of “Bebop” and instead chord progressions from Swing songs are often taken directly and sped up and given more intrinsic and complicated chords that still employ the same triad, meaning 7ths are being replaced with flattened 9ths, sharpened 9ths and sharpened 11th. This quite often leads to I – VI – II – V or I – IV – V sounding quite complex as opposed to the quite smooth and cool sounding effects of Swing chord progressions but still keeping the effect of the 5th driving back to the 1st.
The idea of a “riff” was well and truly alive in “Bebop” despite most of the songs being improvised. Generally the rhythm section would keep underlying harmonies going while long improvisations strung together a theme which reared its head, usually, at the beginning and end of the piece. This phrase was occasionally repeated more often and therefore could be termed a riff.
Beyond Scat singing, there are no discernible or distinguishable lyrics in “Bebop” pieces and as for rhythm, there was no particular formula for how Scat singing should be used or placed within the piece.
Dizzy Gillespie (Trumpet) was one of the pioneers of “Bebop” and a major influence to jazz musicians years after his time. He was most well-known for songs such as “Salt Peanuts” and his work...
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