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Following. On this program.
Swing arrived in 1935 and it became successful 1936. Swing was a product of all that went before it in the history of jazz but especially so of the preceding 15 years of experimentation with larger bands and completely or partially arranged musical scores. The wood was used in a song title of 1932. The music was the product of Fletcher Henderson and Duke Ellington Count Basie Benny Carter and others who during the 20s and early 30s experimented with larger orchestras with instruments in sections. Making arrangements and generally developing a degree of sophistication not heard from jazz performers before this time.
In answering the question what is swing. We get into the midst of one of the more inane arguments that perennially carried on amongst the people who have made jazz either a life's work or merely as Alice Lee followed avocation. We could travel you define the term for purposes of these programs. But then its meaning would probably have little relation to the use of the tune in other places. Jazz as we have used the term and as we believe is the correct way means the odds of the individual musician the spontaneous creation of melodic ideas inspired by the caudal structure. If several jazz musicians orient their improvising around the same song at the same time and in the same place we have a jazz band or orchestra. This was almost exclusively the case in the classic New Orleans mode. Gradually this gathering together of jazz men led to an approach which
allowed a single musician to improvise over time while his fellow musicians either were either remained silent waiting for their turn or invented little background figures intended to kick the soloist along or to provide a non too distinct continuity. This was most highly developed in Chicago jazz. How about this time the 1920s. We found jazz musicians becoming technically more proficient and musically more knowledgeable with this. Literacy came the urge to preserve in writing what was being done spontaneously. All of folk art. Are there products of illiteracy. As soon as jazz musicians began to think of doubling and tripling up on some of the instruments mainly the melody ones as soon as the orchestral size increased there became a need for written pots arrangements orchestrations all through the 20s and into the 30s. These
arrangements allowed freedom for an improvised solo a jazz solo. The arrangement dealt chiefly with the background material which used to be improvised and the full orchestra chorus which usually came at the beginning and at the end of a tune. We cannot say that these arranged parts were jazz as we had known it before but it wasn't without jazz either. For 20 is the music of jazz had been being played all over this country live and preserved on records. There was a considerable amount of inbreeding amongst the practitioners of the art. They all listened to and were influenced by each other's playing. And these twenty some years gave the jazz a character a flavor and approach a spirit jazzman as individual men of music felt the freedom to explore the capabilities of their instruments. They were not condemned for lacking purity of tone or
correctness of technique anything went. And so the music developed changed and countless ideas were produced which became the common property of any who cared to use them. But jazz musicians knew cared for and understood them best. So I arranged music made every effort to reflect to develop to use again the new old and new combinations. All of this accumulated material. Thus we say even though a saxophone section or a trumpet section is playing notes written down maybe by a non instrument playing arranging that they have the feeling of jazz. The music they play is a byproduct of jazz. Without the Jazz prototype this probably never could have been. Swing is a way of playing it characterizes the orchestra style approach and execution of the neighbors.
Here are some quotations which express the aspect of feeling in defining swing. First we need. A Feeling and increase in tempo you're still playing at the same tempo. And then Glen Miller something that you have to feel a sensation that can be conveyed to others. Frank Freeman a steady tempo causing lightness and relaxation and a feeling of floating. Terry Shannon. Synthetic cooperation of two or more instruments helping along our giving feeling to the soloist performing Ozzie Nelson a big something that you seem to feel pulsating from a danceable orchestra. To me it is a solidity and compactness of attack by which the rhythm instruments combine with the others to create within the listeners the desire to dance. When. It's like love in a gallon having a fight and then seeing her again and chick singer I love it. Why. Swing
is. A sort of feel I don't know. You just swing. I am happy. That. I have have have have have.
A jazz musician is still one who can improvise spontaneously on his instrument. There are a great many musicians who have played in swing orchestras who cannot improvise or at least do such a poor job at it that they should not. One can hardly refer to these musicians as Jasmine but they have the EVA live informally or acquired casually the feeling of the products of 20 to 30 years o small bands one instrument of each type playing music with freedom from Storyville to New York City. The translation of this jazz feeling into written notes began about 19 20 and developed all through the 20s and early 30s and in 1935 it blossomed forth to popularity. The age of swing was upon us.
Probably it is not coincidental that the arrangements which took Benny Goodman to fame were made by one of the earliest practitioners of the art. Fletcher Henderson whom we discussed in an earlier program at a large orchestra and was arranging music for it. From the year 1919 until 1935. He did much of the exploring of the musical heritage which we mentioned just a few minutes ago long before the would swing itself was invented.
Fletcher Henderson and played piano when Benny Goodmans orchestra and he wrote the arrangements which produced the swing age and he seems to know what the difference is between jazz and swing. Here he tells you there is a certain difference in the technical significance. Swing means premeditation and jazz means spontaneity. But they still use the same musical material and are fundamentally the same idiom. A swing arrangement can sound mechanical if it's wrongly interpreted by musicians who don't have the right feeling but it's written straight from the heart and has the same feeling in the writing as a soloist has in a hot chorus. That's the way for instance my arrangement of sometimes I'm happy for Benny was written. I just sat down not knowing what I was going to write and wrote spontaneously what I was inspired to write. Maybe some arrangement some mechanical because the writers studied too much and wrote out of a
book as it were. Too much knowledge can hamper your style. But on the whole swing relies on the same emotional and musical attitude as jazz or improvised music with the added advantage that it has more finesse. And now we hit one of Fletcher Henderson's greatest arrangements. Benny Goodman's recording of down south camp meeting.
I am. I am.
The swing bands of the late 30s attracted all of the big names in jazz of the 20s in the early 30s. The money just seemed to be there for any number of good bands and all of them had to have good men to capture that swing feeling and to improvise freely when they were called upon to do so. A new term grew up in the field of music. Musicians were code side man and they still are not all jazz bands large and small have a nominal leader and sideman. As with the word jazz itself the origin of the term sideman cannot be accurately traced but its meaning is obvious. Like so much of jazz nomenclature it is a descriptive word. Inevitably the members of a jazz band sit to the left and to the right of center a center sometimes occupied by a playing leader sometimes by the drummer or a whole rhythm section when side men take sides left or right in a big
band. They fall into solo or section chairs when swing came along its enthusiastic began to pay attention to the least members of the bands. The hot men as they called the soloists moved in and are of a claim hitherto reserved for a very small number of acknowledged great. The effect was retroactive. Hot collectors sifted through their records to find unappreciated beauties in a trumpet or hear a clarinet has their own drummer somewhere out Bix Beiderbecke. The biggest sideman jazz has known was rediscovered the records on which he had played. Suddenly became valuable collectors items. On records and off in one nighter and ballroom and hotel appearances new bands were listened to avidly with the hope that some new genius would pop up in a brass or reed or rhythm section. The apotheosis of the sideman was complete and these
sideman gained such attention that they were constantly tempted to form orchestras of their own and many did. There were other temptations too. In 1037 Benny Goodman paid income tax on one hundred twenty five thousand dollars. I have a and. I have to have.
One hand. But now when you have to have a mic you would have to really worry when you think like you and I go when you want to be you know being good you know you have to be you. Not only did swing bring jazz instrumentalists to the public attention but it also brought forth the vocalists. Before swaying singers were restricted to blues singing in small clubs and for recordings. When
swinging into its big bands playing large dance halls and theaters all across the country. The organizations took on the appearance of a traveling boy girl shows with quartets of singers. Male and female vocal style and even specialty acts. The singer you just heard was one of the best of them all and she still is. It was Ella Fitzgerald singing with the orchestra with which she started one of the earliest of the swing groups and his band.
I am I am. I am I am I am.
So in 1935 swing arrives and in its six hour seven year history it was to call a nation's attention to the jazz musicians of the 20s in the 50s. It was in many ways a fine synthesis of all of the individual styles and modes of expression which preceded it. The fact that swing orchestras made money should not cloud us to their significance in many ways. Swing was a disappointment to jazz critics and Afiq in autos but it gave the musicians recognition and it set a successful big band style which could successfully encompass much of what unadulterated jazz had been saying for many years. But by and large it had been saying it to itself. This is how Rao Dettol a DA now editor of a book entitled front is of jazz puts it swing was a more
sociological phenomenon than a musical expression. The reviews of the critics after Benny Goodman's first Carnegie Hall concert and their disappointment at the sounds they heard demonstrate this point swinging hip the country as it pushed out of the depression doldrums musically. It was a dilution of jazz but it helped to reawaken interest in the real thing. For this we must all be grateful. The excitement which hit the jazz world when the swing craze broke upon the scene is proof enough that swing had something very real to offer.
This has been the 17th for a series of programs on the roots of jazz in the United States. The next program will again discuss music of the swing age. The roots of jazz is written and produced by Norman clearly. Vocal is the sound technician and Reiki is the reed. This is Norman Cleary speaking.
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Roots of jazz
Producing Organization
Iowa State University
WOI (Radio station : Ames, Iowa)
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program focuses on the development of swing music.
Series Description
Music-documentary series in 26 parts, covering various aspects of jazz.
Broadcast Date
Media type
Director: Cleary, Norman
Engineer: Vogel, Dick
Host: Clark, Kenneth Bancroft, 1914-2005
Producing Organization: Iowa State University
Producing Organization: WOI (Radio station : Ames, Iowa)
Speaker: Geesy, Ray
Writer: Cleary, Norman
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 56-24-17 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:00?
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Chicago: “Roots of jazz; Swing,” 1956-10-21, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed September 30, 2022,
MLA: “Roots of jazz; Swing.” 1956-10-21. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. September 30, 2022. <>.
APA: Roots of jazz; Swing. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from