What is Bebop?
• The term “bop” comes from the need to describe the energetic, nervous nature of this new music. • Bebop is a STYLE of jazz that developed in the years from 1940-45, and it signals in the era of “Modern Jazz” and a clean break of the “Swing Era”. • What are the characteristics of Bebop? • Aesthetics of the style are based on improvisation, not melody or arrangement of the melody. • Melodies are stylistically more complex and “improvisatory” than melodies from the swing era. • Smaller groups become more popular than larger “big bands”. • Jazz clubs (small) take the place of the large Dance Halls of the 1930’s. • De-emphasis on commercial success, popularity and dancing. • The pulse, or beat, is less clearly stated in bebop - making it harder to “feel” the beat.

not the tightly organized “performance”. • While swing era arrangers skillfully inserted space for individual improvisation into the arrangement. not for dancing. The focus was on the ability of each player to improvise like a virtuoso. Even though most of the players that created bebop had played in big bands. bars and clubs became the training ground for the musicians of this new style. The performers were trying to capture the impromptu spontaneity of the jam session . .The Revolution of Bebop • Bebop is a reaction to the well-polished big band extravaganza. they led this rejection of the musical characteristics of the swing era. • Instead of dance halls. • The music was created for listening. bebop groups avoided complex charts and arrangements.

Reactions to Bebop • Many older musicians did not understand the new style. • Louis Armstrong said.” • A large segment of the jazz audience felt the same way and didn’t enjoy the fact that their jazz music was now being called “old fashioned”. • Cab Calloway called the playing of Dizzy Gillespie “Chinese music”. • This difference of opinion led to great debates on jazz in the late 1940’s among the old and new school of the music as well as the audience. etc. the amateurs. . and any old way will do as long as it’s different from the way you played it got no melody to remember and no beat to dance to. the dancers. the critics. “All they want to do is show you up... EVERYONE was talking about jazz...

• Younger musicians. were interested in this new style. jazz ceased to be a commercially successful music. the new musicians pushed for change that led to the rise of Bop and the demise of Swing music. who didn’t have the constant employment that the stars of the swing era had. . • With the rise of bop.The Beginnings of Bop • The music began as a music for musicians in the early 1940’s. Some players thought that bop could still be adapted so that dancing was possible. but in the end that didn’t happen. bebop built a loyal following. • A new tax on dance halls led to their decline. while small clubs and bars flourished. • Slowly bop became the dominant jazz style by the end of the 1940’s. So. and intrigued by the possibilities of a wholly new musical language. Even as many derided the style as too modern.

• The music was seen as a rejection of all things conformist and mainstream. . • Additionally. goatee and glasses of Dizzy Gillespie as well as the heroine addition of Charlie Parker.The Culture of Bop • Bop became a cultural phenomenon. • This social commentary in the 1940’s laid the groundwork for the more defiant and powerful political statements in jazz during the 1960’s.represented a racial stereotype of the black entertainer in America. There to please the white Armstrong . • The followers of bebop took on the characteristics of their heroes. many of the same players thought that the older musicians . The musicians saw the music as a political statement and declaration of independence. The beret.

Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker .

a minimum amount of dissonance in the harmonic progression. • Many melodies before Bop were hold overs from Broadway or popular music. disjunct at times.making them 5. even ballads were to be danced to in the swing era.not rehash the melody of each specific tune. thus the tempos were “danceable”. melodic language. 6 or even 7 note-chords. • Swing era music was meant to be danced to. • The harmonic language on classic jazz and the swing era was usually a three or four note chord .Characteristics of Bebop • Bebop differed from swing music in four distinct ways: • Improvisational style. Bebop soloists typically solo by improvising over the chord changes . Energetic bebop tunes were faster and crisper than swing tunes and the ballads in the bebop era were typically played much slower than ballads from the earlier eras. Adding a fair amount of dissonance to the chordal progression. Complex. tempo and harmonic language. In bebop the language adds “extensions” to the chords . • Classic jazz and Swing musicians improvised by Embellishing the melody. Remember.trying to create a completely new melody in their solo . chromatic and jagged. . The melodies in bebop were crafted like a solo.

Bebop and Swing • There are some aspects of bebop that were retained in bebop: • 32-bar popular song form • The blues • Improvisation based mostly on 8th note melodies • Instruments in ensembles consist of front-line & rhythm section .

he/she is an important contributor to the syncopation and rhythmic vitality of the music. • Dropping bombs . The drummer is no longer just keeping time. • Re-harmonization .Changing some (or all) of the chords in a wellknown song to freshen and modernize the sound. It is a contraction of the term complement.Used to describe the drummer placing sharp. • Comping .Bebop Terms • Extended Chord tones .The syncopated accompaniment supplied by guitarists and pianists.instead of focusing on the 3rd. irregular accents into the accompaniment. 5th and 7th notes of the scale to create chords and melodies bebop musicians used the 9th. 11th and 13th notes as well. . This led to more dissonance.

but to modernize the result. • Recomposition would entail the following: • keeping the original chord progression. • This allowed for the performers to not pay royalties and play the chord progression of a song that they found interesting and fertile ground for improvisation. musicians would “recompose” a standard tune. . but adding extensions to the chords. more complex and improvisatory melody over the newly altered chords.Recomposition in the Bop Era • AABA and 12-bar blues were still popular. • composing a new.

Whispering .Groovin’ High vs.

Recomposition in the Bop Era Whispering vs. Groovin’ High • Bing Crosby singing “Whispering” • Dizzy Gillespie w/ Charlie Parker playing “Groovin’ High” • Notice the differences in: • Tempo • Melody • Harmony .

• These sessions.The Origins of Bop • Informal jam sessions in Harlem were the first forays into bebop. • Minton’s Playhouse hired drummer Kenny Clarke as the band leader.) and less shellac to create the albums. they were developing a new music amongst themselves. This was a low-stress gig . and the development of Bop are not recorded for two reasons: 1) a musicians strike that started in 1942 because of a lack of royalties being paid to musicians for records playing on the radio and 2) a shortage of: rubber..allowing musicians to sit in. These shortages led to diminished opportunities for touring (tires and cars.. It was a 3 AM session at this club that inspired Charlie Parker to quit the touring band he was in and stay in New York. Basically. • This was an informal setting . gasoline and shellac.therefore there was no pressure to please anyone. and the late night sessions were rife with experimentation. including a quirky pianist named Thelonious Sphere Monk. Clarke then hired the other players. • At Monroe’s Uptown House (another club) drummer Max Roach led a band of experimental players as well. .

Kansas in 1920. “the saddest thing in the Keyes band. Parker was called. .he began learning Lester Young solos (Count Basie’s band) note-for-note and studying harmony with local guitarists and keyboard players.he joined the band of Jay McShann and began touring with this group. • In 1938 .similar to Armstrong in scope. ability and influence.alto sax • Born in Kansas City.Charlie Parker .his earliest attempts at performance at jam sessions led to him being “laughed off the bandstand”. • At 15 was playing in a territory band led by Lawrence “88” Keyes.” • Did not flourish at first . The first important saxophonist of the modern 18 years of age . • He worked hard to become a better player . • A hugely influential alto saxophonist .

He immersed himself in the NYC music scene. then returned to NY in 1941or 1942 for good.alto sax • In 1939 the McShann band was in NY for a series of gigs and Parker went to Monroe’s to hear local players.Charlie Parker . • Parker went back to McShann in 1940 to make his first recordings. washed dishes at a Bar & Grille so he could hear Art Tatum play there a few times a week. He was twice as fast as Lester Young and into harmony Lester hadn’t touched.” . Bird was running the same way we were. After hearing the caliber of player there Parker quit the McShann band and moved to NYC. but he was way out ahead of us. • Kenny Clarke said: “Bird was playing stuff we’d never heard before. • He played at Monroe’s nightly.

His playing • He had an edgy tone .almost abrasive.Charlie Parker . irregular melodic lines • Emphasis on the middle and upper registers of the instrument • Irregular phrase length . • Use of the blues inflections • Double-time 16th note runs • Angular.

irregular phrasing. and similar is scope to Gillespie and Parker. Track #1 • AABA form with extended introduction.notice the long lines. fast run in the piano.focuses on the high register of the trumpet with very long lines • Piano solo .and the tune ends with a restatement of the introduction.Listening Example: Shaw ‘Nuff CD #3. • Melody presented in unison . .is advanced. • Gillespie erupts into his solo . • Parker takes first solo . • Return of the melody . The main melody starts after the descending. but a little less polished in the bebop tradition.both Parker and Gillespie playing same notes.Al Haig .

but serves the purpose to get to the solos. • Parker’s solo is impressive on many levels . chaotic .looking forward. irregular phrase lengths. energetic. • The bass player is the primary time-keeper . • The introduction is serving as a makeshift melody . • Notice Max Roach “dropping bombs” on the bass drum to add syncopation and accent to keep it fresh and different. Track #3 • Features Parker (alto sax). • Roach’s drum solo .speed.not really memorable . dexterity. . Muted trumpet and alto saxophone end the tune.frenetic. memorable melodic motions. • Introduction returns as an ending. This is a BIG development.Listening Example: Koko CD #3.the drummer now is adding to the interest of the song. not just providing the basic beat. which is what intrigued these players. Gillespie (trumpet and piano) and Max Roach (drums).

• Parker died in 1955. a heroine addict. he fell into a deep depression. attempted suicide. .continued • Parker. drank heavily and suffered from ulcers. A daughter of his. He gained weight. after being released from the hospital. went on his successful tours and evolved further as an improviser. and committed himself into Bellevue hospital.Parker was actually 34. • The period from 1947 to 1951 was a very successful period in his career.Charlie Parker . He recorded some of his best work. the doctor assumed he was 53 years old . Pree. His body was so ravaged by years of substance abuse. died of pneumonia. • His final years were unfortunate. ended up in a mental hospital for 6-months in 1946 following a tour in California.

trumpet • The consummate musician. . trumpeter and clown . including The band or Cab Calloway. arranger. Many tunes that are now “standards”. Salt Peanuts. • His most important contributions are the many compositions and recompositions he created during the development of bebop. A composer. Gillespie moved to NYC in 1937 at the age of 20 and quickly began working in the best bands in NY. • He routinely participated in the after-hours jam sessions at Minton’s.John Birks (Dizzy) Gillespie . A Night in Tunisia etc. Gillespie was becoming well-known in NY. • Born in South Carolina. • Groovin’ High. but his recordings and tours with Parker thrust him into the national spotlight. Woody n’ You. pianist.which earned him the nickname “Dizzy”.

Gillespie .continued .

went to the larger group format in the late 1940’s and had successfully migrated bebop from the small group to the big band. • Gillespie always wanted bebop to be entertaining . . • Gillespie. a conga player. His later career was as a champion of the music that he helped to create in NY in the 1930’s and 1940’s. • Gillespie embraced the Afro-Cuban element of jazz and hired the best and brightest latin jazz pioneers including Chano Pozo. a more commercial element of bebop.Gillespie .he bemoaned the leaving behind of the audience.continued • Gillespie split with Parker after the west coast trip that resulted in Parker going into a mental hospital.

Gillespie’s solo on Anthropology .

Gillespie .

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