Musicology - bebop. a brief description and history of the 'bebop' jazz style.

Essay by EdwinaJaneHigh School, 11th gradeA-, September 2003

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Yr 11 Music

Musicology Assessment.


Bebop, a musical style for virtuoso musicians, developed between the early and mid-1940's and expanded upon many of the improvisational elements of the swing era. The birth of bebop is considered the beginning of modern jazz. Bebop produced four changes to the style of jazz: it required a greater understanding of jazz theory; complex instrumental melodies were introduced; complicated chords and rhythms were added to the rhythm section; and a cult of serious jazz musicians evolved. It grew out of the small swing groups, but placed a much higher emphasis on technique and complex harmonies, rather than on singable melodies. There was more emphasis on the rhythm section, and phrases in the music were often irregular in length, making it unsuitable for dancing. Bebop began in America during the Second World War.

A combination of social and economic events influenced and helped usher in the bebop era.

As many of the members of the popular big bands of the swing era were drafted during the war, many teenagers too young to be drafted joined the touring road bands. These young musicians, such as trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie and saxophonist Charlie Parker, the 'fathers' of bebop, developed their craft at an early age under the influence of swing masters like Jack Teagarden, Earl Hines and Jay McShann. They began exploring more advanced harmonies, altered chords and chord substitutions. Gillespie and Parker experimented with unconventional chromaticism, discordant sounds, and placement of accents in melodies. They often created irregular phrases of odd length, and combined swing and straight eight note rhythms within the swing style.

Unlike the elaborate big band arrangements fundamental to the swing style, bebop bands were made up of four to six musicians and focused on exploring the improvisational elements of music. Using the blues...