Traditional Jazz- Swing


Swing Jazz is interesting because it is the reason why there are so many genres of music in the first place. The blues, hymns, ragtime, and dance music all came from swing jazz. So if you think that your favorite song has not come from swing jazz it probably has. You will learn the origin of traditional jazz, who made and played swing jazz, and you might even find a new favorite.

The Background of Swing Jazz:

In 1819 in Congo Square, in New Orleans, enslaved people would meet together and congregate on Sundays when they weren’t obligated to work. Black people could sing, play music, and dance, swaying back and forth to the songs of their home countries. Cultures such as African-American, Anglo-American, French, German, Italian, Mexican, Caribbean, and American Indian musical influences came together to create this powerful sound. Although they congregated weekly, this was highly illegal and the enslaved people were forced to sneak around. Swing style is a unique form of traditional jazz. The era of swing jazz originated from African-American Roots. The swing style was developed in the late 1920s to the early 1930s. The swing style gained popularity within the mid-1930s. The swing style concept featured soloists who performed improvised singing to the melody (Melody-a sequence of single notes that is musically satisfying). The rhythms and beat resembled a “ragged” or “ragged-time beat” which was the original name before “Jazz” came about.

What’s the difference between traditional jazz and swing jazz? 

The difference between traditional jazz and swing jazz is that within swing jazz there is a small rhythm section that strengthens the vocalist While more smooth jazz that emphasizes a groove and highlights the vocalist whereas traditional jazz utilizes more brassy instruments such as trumpets, trombone, clarinet, etc.

What are some Key Events of Swing Jazz?

Some of the key events include “TAC presents from Spirituals to Swing” located at Carnegie Hall and The Jukebox.

Why did the key events matter?

The Spiritual Swing was important because it was the first time  ethnomusicologists wrote about the expression of black music. The intention was to trace the history of black music. This concert took place in 1939 and was with a primarily white audience due to Carnegie hall being super expensive as well as the time period. The JukeBox is important because it was an important tool in use to spread the big band concept.

The Tunes

Describe the music and artists that were influential:

Some influential artists are Duke Ellington with “It Don’t Mean a Thing”, Fletcher Henderson with “Wrappin’ It Up”, and Count Basie with “One O’Clock Jump”. 

How did they shape the subject?

They shaped the subject because they paved the groundwork of jazz which allowed the concept of jazz to be built upon which allows for current day jazz which is very diverse. There is now more than one concept of jazz and I love it. 

what does the song mean? 

Cab Calloway – Minnie the Moocher

Break Down The Words

The lyrics are about a woman named Minnie who seemingly dates a rich man who gets her whatever she wants. Around the time of this song’s release, women were beginning to become more independent and doing what they wanted instead of what the world deemed was right or moral.

Who Made Waves

this song had the element of “scat” such as “Hi-de-hi-de-hi-de-ho” and “call and response, inviting audience and band members to reply during the song. This made the genre a much more entertaining and interactive experience.

How It Changed The Game? ( traditional jazz - swing )

The beginning of the jazz music era in America started in the early 1920s after World War I. Americans sought joy from the dark times of the war. Jazz music quickly became popular because of its upbeat tempo and its ability to bring crowds from toe-tapping to learning a new style of dance called the Charleston. Traditional jazz has changed the game by influencing genres such as R&B, hip-hop and pop.

more than just music :

Swing jazz inspired many dance styles created between the 1920’s and 1950’s. These dances included lindy hop, charleston, balboa and collegiate shag. This is what swing dancing was called in Harlem during the 1920’s. Jazz music influenced women to break the norms with flappers. The roaring 20’s were when women bobbed their hair, wore short dresses ( to the knees), drank and smoked. They were liberated and danced to jazz music. The music influenced women to buy/ wear garments and accessories. As for the influence jazz had on art, some artists like Stuart davis- he said jazz was one of the things that made him want to paint. It influenced the development of his vibrant style.

Around the world :

Swing served as a major morale booster during World War II. Perhaps for the first time, it did not matter what color you were, just how well you could play. In an era when racial integration was not yet accepted by American society in general, several important swing bands featured racial integration. Americans spent an entire decade dancing, swinging and swaying to joyful rhythms. It sparked a cultural revolution in America, introducing a time of liberation and social development. Swig jazz increased the number of musicians and quality of instruments in the band. Swing jazz spread globally from radio broadcasting and the recording industry in the 1920s allowed some of the more popular dance bands to gain national exposure. Due to swing jazz the music was introduced and  brought respectability to jazz, moving into the ballrooms of America. 

Conclusion: Wrapping It Up

Sum It Up

Swing jazz, a sub-topic of traditional jazz, is a genre of music that focuses in more on the artists voice rather than the instruments being played. It is unique to other forms of jazz and music, in general, for its rhythm and its defiance of the traditional way of music. Some of Swing Jazz’s musicians include Louis Armstrong, James. P Johnson, and many others.

We hope you’ve learned a few things about Swing Jazz today, such as the history, some of the notable artists, important events, and some fun facts! 


Keep The Conversation Going

Are there any songs you listen to today that may have sampled some Swing Jazz music? Any songs inspired or include elements of the genre? Let us know!


Video Link:

What's your password?

Login to your account

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website.