The Bebop Revolution of the 1940s
Essay Title No. 4
Name: Karen mc Donagh
Student Number: 110333021
Module: Music and Ideas, Jazz
Lecturer: Paul O Donnel
Submission Date: 21-January-2011
Revolution; ‘the forcible overthrow of a government or social order, in favour of a new system’.  The 1940s 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 ‘rebop’ 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’,  and so the term was coined. Bebop saw the beginning of a new and exciting form of jazz performance. In Scott Yanow’s words, ‘the name is really a tribute to the music’s rhythmic nature and spontaneity.’  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.  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.’  The close of the 30s saw the release of the recording Body and Soul  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...
Bibliography: 1. Oxford Paperback Dictionary and Thesaurus, Oxford University Press, 2009.
2. Bebop Scott Yanow, Miller Freeman Books, 2000
3. Creating Black Americans Oxford University Press US, 2006.
4. Body and Soul, Bluebird, RCA Studios, 1939.
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