1930s & 1940s Jazz

Kayla Roddey


Swing was the ultimate and most prominent  form of jazz in the 1930s. It was very popular and Americans all over the country were dancing to it. Swing music is characterized by syncopation, a distinguished rhythm, and call and response with the woodwinds and brass sections. Big Bands were especially popular during this era. Big bands played danceable music and played composed music. Some of the most famous composers during this time were Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman (who were both Big Band Composers especially for movies and shows), Tommy Dorsey, Count Basie, and Glenn Miller. The Swing era made jazz more sophisticated. Formal events all over the country were using swing jazz to entertain their guests. Louis Armstrong, Fats Waller, and Billie Holiday are some notable artists of the Swing Era. 


The Bebop era came about in the 1940s. Bebop is characterized by fast tempos, scatting, highlighting improvisation, and several melody changes. Bebop had many characteristics that were very different from swing music which represented the evolution and creativity of the art at the time. Bebop’s instrumentation typically consisted of trumpet, saxophone, bass, drums and piano. Bebop was not considered dance music therefore it was not as popularized or mainstream as swing was. Bebop was associated with the Civil Rights movement and elevated the status of several African-Americans. Bebop was associated with intellectual and innovative black people Bebop was performed in smaller clubs.

Dizzy Gillespie (trumpet), Charlie Parker(alto saxophone), Sarah Vaughn(voice), Fats Navarro (trumpet)

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