The History of Swing Music and Dancing
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The period of the 1930s and 1940s is known as the Swing Era. Big bands like Benny Goodman, Count Basie, Artie Shaw, and others became household names and music icons (“Jazz History- Swing”). Swing music was a trendy style of jazz, while swing dancing was very popular and performed in many dance halls. As they became more widespread, both became a vital part of America.
The 1930s brought a style of music that was possibly the most fashionable and accessible in jazz history. Swing music was an extension of the New Orleans-style jazz almost single-handedly invented by Louis Armstrong, a man that was considered to be one of the greatest of all jazz musicians. Another brilliant musician was Satchmo, who was renowned for playing slightly ahead of the beat and inspired others to do the same (Kallen). Benny Goodmans bands and combos introduced swing to nationwide audiences through ballrooms, recordings, and the radio in 1934. He was the first white bandleader to include African American and white musicians performing together in public. In 1936, he presented two brilliant African American soloists, pianist Teddy Wilson and vibraphonist Lionel Hampton. Up until then, racial discrimination and segregation had suppressed the growth of African American jazz musicians, and carefree swing music began to be the most popular music in America (“The World Book Encyclopedia volume J”). Before the 1930s, bands in New York, Chicago, and the Southwest started to replace the traditional small group New Orleans style of jazz with larger and more powerful groups comprising of 12 to 16 musicians. A reason for this change was the lack of technology. Without a microphone or other amplification, bands had to devise another way to be heard in large ballrooms and dance halls. By increasing the number of musicians, the volume rose and arrangers became a key to the success of big bands. Bandleaders like Duke Ellington became famous as composers and arrangers, while other leaders hired arrangers or commissioned music for their groups. The New York big band style focused on the commercial tunes from Tin Pan Alley and other original compositions, finally blending the music of soloists like Louis Armstrong, Bix Beiderdecke, Coleman Hawkins, and Benny Goodman. Bands in Kansas City and the West were known for blues-oriented works concentrating on a steady swing from the rhythm section. A crucial part of success to these groups were the soloists, who added creativity and excitement to the music. The horn sections behind the soloists often improvised, but they eventually formalized their parts. However, the popularity of big bands decreased when World War II was coming to an end. By the 1940s, bebop was being created, and clubs like Mintons