Bebop

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.

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

. the amateurs.. • 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. .” • 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”. etc.Reactions to Bebop • Many older musicians did not understand the new style. “All they want to do is show you up. • Cab Calloway called the playing of Dizzy Gillespie “Chinese music”. EVERYONE was talking about jazz.. the critics. the dancers. • Louis Armstrong said.. and any old way will do as long as it’s different from the way you played it before.you got no melody to remember and no beat to dance to.

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

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

Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker .

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

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 .

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

more complex and improvisatory melody over the newly altered chords. • composing a new. • Recomposition would entail the following: • keeping the original chord progression. musicians would “recompose” a standard tune.Recomposition in the Bop Era • AABA and 12-bar blues were still popular. but to modernize the result. . but adding extensions to the chords. • 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.

Whispering .Groovin’ High vs.

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

and the late night sessions were rife with experimentation.allowing musicians to sit in. • This was an informal setting .The Origins of Bop • Informal jam sessions in Harlem were the first forays into bebop. 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. This was a low-stress gig . • Minton’s Playhouse hired drummer Kenny Clarke as the band leader. gasoline and shellac. Basically.) and less shellac to create the albums.therefore there was no pressure to please anyone.. including a quirky pianist named Thelonious Sphere Monk. 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. These shortages led to diminished opportunities for touring (tires and cars. they were developing a new music amongst themselves.. • At Monroe’s Uptown House (another club) drummer Max Roach led a band of experimental players as well. • These sessions. . Clarke then hired the other players.

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

He immersed himself in the NYC music scene. 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. • Kenny Clarke said: “Bird was playing stuff we’d never heard before. Bird was running the same way we were.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. but he was way out ahead of us. • Parker went back to McShann in 1940 to make his first recordings. After hearing the caliber of player there Parker quit the McShann band and moved to NYC. then returned to NY in 1941or 1942 for good.Charlie Parker .” . • He played at Monroe’s nightly.

Charlie Parker .almost abrasive.His playing • He had an edgy tone . 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.

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

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

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

A Night in Tunisia etc. including The band or Cab Calloway. • Groovin’ High. trumpeter and clown . 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.trumpet • The consummate musician.which earned him the nickname “Dizzy”. .John Birks (Dizzy) Gillespie . Gillespie was becoming well-known in NY. pianist. Many tunes that are now “standards”. Salt Peanuts. but his recordings and tours with Parker thrust him into the national spotlight. A composer. Woody n’ You. arranger. • His most important contributions are the many compositions and recompositions he created during the development of bebop. • Born in South Carolina.

continued .Gillespie .

a more commercial element of bebop. • Gillespie embraced the Afro-Cuban element of jazz and hired the best and brightest latin jazz pioneers including Chano Pozo. • Gillespie. .he bemoaned the leaving behind of the audience. 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 .continued • Gillespie split with Parker after the west coast trip that resulted in Parker going into a mental hospital. 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’s solo on Anthropology .

Gillespie .

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