Bebop Research Papaer

Topics: Jazz, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker Pages: 8 (2698 words) Published: February 26, 2013
Bebop music was the next evolutionary change of Jazz music that succeeded swing music. This paper’s aim is look at musicians who impacted this era, exploring more in depth Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker. In the early 1940’s, the swing bands began to all sound the same as well as work along predictable chord changes.1 The music was now not used for dancing. Some people believed that this would let the music go away from the elite social groups, and now be for everybody. Also just because a musician could play swing music well, there was no guarantee that the same musician would be able to perform Bebop. This new style of music was defined through adventurous soloists such as Dizzy Gillespie. Although swing music did have some creativity, in Bebop the chorus was done once at the beginning and once at the end, the middle was mostly up to the soloist’s creativity and inventiveness. Bebop music really took hold during the years of American involvement in WWII. During this time there was a major strike from the Musicians Union because they wanted more money from labels because of money lost on free radio.2 The strike led to musicians jamming with each other and not being able to record. Since there was a lack of recorded material for the music, when recording started again, and people heard Bebop they were very taken

1 Scott Yanow, Bebop, San Francisco: 2000, Miller Freeman Books, 1 2 Yanow, 1

aback. They had no warning that this new style of music was being created, let alone how different it was from swing.
The musical style itself differed quite a lot from anything that had ever been done in Jazz up until this point. Along with the chorus only being repeated at the end of a musical number, there were fast tempos, asymmetrical phrasing, and intricate melodies. The only things that held Bebop together were underlying harmonies that were played by the rhythm section. Other then this, most of the music ended up being improvisational as discussed earlier. The chord progression which was used for the music was actually not much different from the swing era, but the melody was new and much more complex. At the end of the Bebop era, musicians were using harmonic substitutions instead chords. This style and era of Jazz took people by surprise. The music was different, unique, and really let the musicians express who they were as Jazz musicians. Dizzy Gillespie was born John Birks Gillespie in South Carolina on October 21, 1917.3 He was youngest of nine children. His childhood was not one that he wanted to remember much. His father was very abusive towards him and his siblings. “I was scared, scared of my father. He was super austere, and never showed any emotion. He’d give me a whipping every Sunday morning, me and my brothers,” said Dizzy speaking of his childhood. 4 Gillespie got into a lot of trouble as a child. But at the age of ten or so, an English teacher introduced him to music, which lead him to joining the school band. 5 He 3 Alyn Shipton, Groovin High: The life of Dizzy Gillespie, New York: Oxford University Press, 1999, 6

4 Shipton, 6
5 Encyclopedia of World Biography, Dizzy Gillespie,, 11/27/11 2

started his young music career playing the trombone. The instrument changed once he borrowed a neighbor’s trumpet for the first time.6 Dizzy began playing in the local bands all around town. After his younger years, Gillespie attended a school that was a boarding school and day college, called the Laurinburg Institute in North Carolina.7 While he was there it is thought that he was struggling for money for clothes. Although tuition and board was covered for him, he had worked in the field to make extra money. 8 Dizzy Gillespie’s mother moved up to Philadelphia while he was at the end of his career at the Laurinburg Institute and moved up to be with her in 1935.9 He began playing in bands about Philly and in the area. This was done for a few years...
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