Benny Goodman And The Swing Era

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Swing music originated by musicians modifying forms of “jazz", so that by the 1930’s a new form of music emerged called “swing”. Swing is characterized by very large bands, fixed, usually written arrangements, and solos by individual musicians in turn. Swing bands typically used an upright or double bass instead of a tuba and played repeated riffs to give the music a propulsive rhythmic force. Swing combined harmonic sophistication with danceable rhythms and compelling individual improvisations. Swing bands ranged from groups like Count Basie with his “Kansas City” style that emphasized blues and was very “riff” oriented, to the Duke Ellington and Glenn Miller bands with more of an orchestral range. (Between the Wars: The Swing Era.) …show more content…
White, Black, and Latino musicians borrowed from each other constantly. Benny Goodman was a child of Jewish immigrants who became known as the “King of Swing”. However, Goodman earned the respect of white and black musicians alike when he integrated his band in 1936. This might seem like not a big deal today, but back in 1936, this was innovative and politically explosive! In 1944, photography Gjon Mili had to get special permission from the studio to include white guitarist Barney Kessel in the band. The studio first wanted to stain Kessel’s arms, hands and face with berry juice so he would look darker, but they finally relented when Mili agreed to film Kessel only in shadows. The famous singer Billie Holliday was once forced to darken her face with greasepaint by a white club owner because she looked “too white” to be on stage with black men. However, despite these happenings, Swing music brought white and black musicians and audiences together in new and different ways. (Between the Wars; The Swing Era)

In retrospect, I can see many ways in which the “Swing Era” has influenced present day society. It made different people and cultures come together and find common ground through music and dance and even slang terminology. It was a way of escape from the pressures of society and a way for people to express their own freedom through music, dance, fashion and even

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