Ethno 50B Essay #1
Small Changes Make Big Differences A living jazz legend once exclaimed “jazz has borrowed from other genres of music and also has lent itself to other genres of music.” Herbie Hancock makes it clear that jazz has been an evolving form of art. And just as simple as the notion that music can change the world, music changes in itself. Jazz once evolved into something we call swing. Back in the roaring twenties people got up and danced to this kind of music. However, these simple and playful melodies that everyone were accustomed to transformed into intricate music with a different basis. When jazz was over everyone’s head and people stopped dancing, we call this period bop. Inevitably, new ideas emerged and jazz musicians decided to take a step back, leading into the cool period. Although it is hard to find the exact beginnings and ends to these distinct eras, I will show how musicians utilized different styles to express themselves. It all began running in the early 1940s when bebop started emerging. Superseding the swing era, bop switched its focus from a melodic improvisational style to one more harmonically based. This unique style of improvisation stemmed from the man with the nickname “Bird,” Charlie Parker. As Crow describes, "one of the delightful features of Parker's improvised choruses was his ability to extract quotes from various musical sources and artfully weave them into his own lines, always imaginatively to the chord structure of the tune he was improvising” (Crow 1990: 301). Essentially, Charlie Parker advanced improvisation many levels by looking past the tune everyone can normally hear and basing his solos off of the harmonies these melodies come from. It was actually a goal of bebop to make music more challenging through means of reharmanization, where a musician added and changed the chord progression throughout a song to increase its difficulty. This new focus on the harmony eventually led to easier arrangements with the typical outline of
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