The Philosophical and Sociological Developments for Bebop During the 1940's

analytical Essay
1529 words
1529 words

The Philosophical and Sociological Developments for Bebop During the 1940's

When discussing the history of Jazz, an important type of music is developed that changed the music industry. This music, bebop, helped to influence other types of music, and it also let us appreciate jazz more

As is so often the case in jazz, when a style or way of playing becomes too commercialized, the evolution turned in the opposite direction. A group of musicians, who had something new to say, something definitely new, found each other reacting against the general Swing fashion.

This new music developed, at first in spurts, originally in Kansas City and then most of all in musician's hangouts in Harlem, particularly at Minton's Playhouse, and once again at the beginning of a decade. Contrary to what has been claimed, this new music did not develop when a group of musicians banded together to create something new, because the old could no longer work. The old style worked very well. It also is not true that the new jazz style was developed as an effort on behalf of an interconnected group of musicians.

The new style formed in the minds and on the instruments of very different musicians in many different places, independent of each other. But Minton's became a focal point, just as New Orleans had been forty years earlier. And just as Jelly Roll Morton's claim to have "invented" jazz then is crazy, so would be the claim of any musician to have "invented" modern jazz.

This new style called bebop was like, onomatopoetically, the then best-loved interval of the music: the flatted fifth. The words "bebop" or "rebop" came into being, when someone attempted to "sing" these melodic leaps. Bebop, which was also called bop, was the fis...

... middle of paper ...

... during the bebop period, but also gave to the music of later periods. That bebop was a revolutionary music is a given fact by most historians and critics, but the length to which it affected society and the musicians who played it has not been fully explored.



1. Berendt, Joachim E., The New Jazz Book. Hill and Wang, New York, 1959. p. 17-19.

2. Tirro, Frank Thro Jazz- A History, W.W. Norton & Co, Inc., New York, 1982. p. 287, 290-291.

3. Davis, Nathan T. Writings in Jazz. Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company. Dubuque, IA. 1996. p. 152-153, 163, 166.

4. Hodeir, Andre. Jazz: Its Evolution and Essence. Hill and Wang, New York, p. 110.

5. The World Book Encyclopedia. Volume 11, 1994. p. 72-73.

6. Internet

7. The New Yorker, November 7, 1959. p. 158.

In this essay, the author

  • Analyzes the philosophical and sociological development of bebop, which changed the music industry during the 1940's. when a style becomes too commercialized, the evolution turned in the opposite direction.
  • Explains that the new jazz style developed in spurts in kansas city, harlem, minton's playhouse, and again at the beginning of a decade. contrary to what has been claimed, the old style worked very well.
  • Opines that minton's became a focal point, just as new orleans had been forty years earlier. jelly roll morton’s claim to have “invented” jazz then is crazy.
  • Explains that bebop was the fist kind of modern jazz, which split jazz into two opposing camps in the 1940's.
  • Explains that charlie christian is a founder of modern jazz and one of those who created from swing the basis for the making of contemporary jazz.
  • Explains that charlie parker changed the fundamental relationship between voices and instruments as it had existed up until that point. bop never came naturally to the voice.
  • Analyzes how the new music reassigned many of jazz's basic principles, especially the primacy of the blues. most bop musicians had an unusual technique, playing long, dazzling phrases with many notes, difficult intervals, unexpected breaks, and unusual turns in melodic direction.
  • Explains that in bebop performances, musicians played complex melody, followed by long periods of solo improvisation, and restated the theme at the end. the bassist supplied the basic beat for the group by plucking a steady, moving bass line.
  • Explains that bebop took the harmonies of the old jazz and superimposed on them additional "substituted" chords.
  • Explains that bebop musicians understood the small combo format, which was popular in small group jazz of the 1930's and early new orleans jazz.
  • Explains that the term "bebop" originated in the jazz musician's practice of vocalizing or singing instrumental melodic lines with nonsense syllables.
  • Explains that bebop was unacceptable to the general public, but also to many musicians. the resulting breaches between the older and younger schools of musicians and jazz musicians were deep, and the second never healed.
  • Explains that bebop developed at a period in the history of jazz when some musicians were trying to create an elite and exclude their number all who did not meet planned artistic standards. barriers, real and artificial, were put up.
  • Argues that experimentation in jazz raises the question of criticism. critics and the media were quick to put down the new music of the 1940's.
  • Explains that bebop musicians became separated from their audience, from non-jazz musicians, and even from other jazz musicians. they were trying to raise the quality of jazz from the level of utilitarian dance music to a chamber art form.
  • Analyzes how bebop soloists' shame for the public was equaled only by their reject for people who called themselves jazz musicians but were musically unable by bebe. charlie parker was the leader, the model.
  • Explains that the jam session was the bebop musician's trial by fire. dizzy gillespie once told marshall stearns, "the modulations we manufactured were the weirdest."
  • Explains that the flatted fifth became the most important interval of bebop, or, as it was soon called, bop.
  • Explains that the bebop movement made more innovators than any other period in the history of jazz.
  • Analyzes the characteristics of bebop: racing, nervous phrases, which sometimes appear as melodic fragments.
  • Describes how friends of jazz, under the influence of avant-garde bop sound, took a different approach to the development of the music.
  • Explains that the change to bebop seemed to happen overnight, but the foundations of the style were laid over a period of around six years, 1939-45.
  • Explains that bebop was probably the most innovative form of jazz ever. the length to which it affected society and the musicians has not been fully explored.
  • Cites berendt, joachim e., tirro, frank thro jazz- a history, davis, nathan t. writings in jazz, kendall/hunt publishing company, dubuque, ia.
Get Access