Swing music  

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"The development of swing music began in the early 1920s. Swing, which is not jazz, is a type of European music with transplanted Negroid characteristics. Even when produced by Negroes, it is Negroid only in surface manner." --Shining Trumpets, a History of Jazz (1946) by Rudi Blesh, introduction


"Ellington's fame is now such that he gives Carnegie Hall concerts of a swing completely divorced from dance function, a tea dansant music trapped out with his borrowed effects from jazz, the Impressionists, and the French Romantics. Some hail him as a foremost genius of modern music, a few lament that "the Duke has forsaken jazz." Both are wrong: the laurels of Hindemith, Stravinsky, and Bartok are safe and, as for jazz, the Duke has never played it."--Shining Trumpets, a History of Jazz (1946) by Rudi Blesh, p. 281

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Swing music, or simply swing, is a form of popular jazz music developed in the United States that dominated in the 1930s and 1940s. The name swing came from the 'swing feel' where the emphasis is on the off–beat or weaker pulse in the music. Swing bands usually featured soloists who would improvise on the melody over the arrangement.

The danceable swing style of big bands and bandleaders such as Benny Goodman was the dominant form of American popular music from 1935 to 1946, a period known as the swing era. The verb "to swing" is also used as a term of praise for playing that has a strong groove or drive. Notable musicians of the swing era include Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, Cab Calloway, Jimmy Dorsey, Tommy Dorsey, Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, Woody Herman, Harry James, Louis Jordan, Glenn Miller, Louis Prima, and Artie Shaw.

Swing has roots in the 1920s as larger dance music ensembles began using new styles of written arrangements incorporating rhythmic innovations pioneered by Louis Armstrong and Earl Hines. A typical song played in swing style would feature a strong, anchoring rhythm section in support of more loosely tied wind and brass. The most common style consisted of theme choruses and choruses with improvised solos within the framework of his bandmates playing support. Swing music began to decline in popularity during World War II because of several factors. Swing influenced the later styles of traditional pop music, jump blues, and bebop jazz. Swing music saw a revival in the late 1950s and 1960s with the resurgent Count Basie and Duke Ellington orchestras, and with pop vocalists such as Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole.

Swing blended with other genres to create new music styles. In country music, artists such as Jimmie Rodgers, Moon Mullican and Bob Wills introduced many elements of swing along with blues to create a genre called western swing. Gypsy swing is an outgrowth of Venuti and Lang's jazz violin swing. Swing revivals have occurred periodically from the late 1960s to the 2000s. In the late-1980s (into the early 1990s) a trendier, more urban-styled swing-beat emerged called new jack swing, spearheaded by Teddy Riley. In the late 1990s and into the 2000s there was a swing revival.


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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Swing music" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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