Swing Music and History

Swing music came out after the Great Depression, and was performed mostly by big bands. The beauty of this form was that it was live at large clubs or halls where people went to dance. It gave the people a place to go and unwind during such a tough period in time. Such greats as Duke Ellington would perform to large crowds of dancers on a regular basis. The great thing with the live performances was that popular songs could be played longer and improvised by the addition of guest musicians. The music itself was lively and uplifting which inspired those who were looking for wholesome entertainment during that period.

swing in the 1930s

It provided a feel good lifestyle for those looking see a brighter view of the world. It spawned a number of stars who emerged on the scene like Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. The created a persona of “cool” and “hip” that revolved around the music and the easy going lifestyle is portrayed. They really served as role models for those who really weren’t sure where this country was headed. This led to movies that showed the lifestyle and were laced with accompanying swing music to provide a proper backdrop. The group came to be known as “The Rat Pack”.

The Rat Pack

A great many artist today use this form as a framework for the tunes they create. Michael Buble is a huge fan of this genre and has shared that swing music has a great influence on his writing. Jon Kois uses the influence in his beginner drums lesson to show how the timing came be transferable to other forms of music. Swing consists of two main types of time measure. The is 4/4 and 4/8. The sound is fast and upbeat, and is very similar to more modern jazz pieces as well as Latin.

Where is Swing Music today? Well, it seems to be cropping back up in a lot of places. The interest is re-surging, and there are clubs popping up in every major city across the US. When I was in New York, there was a group that would meet in the park, and dance to the big band music out of a CD player. Why? Who knows. Maybe it was the recession, or peoples’ need for more intimate contact in an isolated world. Whatever the case, it is a wholesome form of entertainment, and I’m glad it’s making a comeback.

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The Origins of Swing Music

Swing music first came on the scene in the 20’s and it was a mixture of West African and European rhythms and it was heavily influenced by the Jazz movement going on at the same time.  You will see the origins or swing in other cultures like Haiti, Cuba and Brazil, this music was listened to by the slave population.  Unfortunately they don’t get any credit for bring this music to the mainstream.

Although the earliest examples of swing can be found in the 20’s swing really didn’t become popular until the 30’s and 40’s.  It was the African American population who enjoyed swing initially but with popularity came the demand to “tone it down” for white listeners.  By 1939 you could find swing being played in clubs and radios all over the US.

Swing Music Moves to New York

While Jazz and Swing music may have gotten their start in New Orleans it wasn’t long before the sound travelled to Chicago and eventually New York.  New York became the center for swing music in the 30’s and 40’s.  It was here in New York that had a newly created recording industry and it also had the nightclubs where Swing musicians could get work on a regular basis. Back in those days money was a big factor and big bands had to go where the money was and that was in New York.  Here is some of the music from back then.

The Decline of Swing

Swing started to decline during World War II, there are a couple of reasons for this.  Many musicians enlisted in the military during that time and were sent overseas to fight in the war.  That made it difficult to start new bands and create new music.  The economy during the war just made it too expensive for bands with a dozen members or more to tour.  The shift moved to three or five piece bands rather than the big bands of the 30’s.  Swing also paved the way for new genres of music like rhythm and blues.  The last time you will hear real swing music being recorded is in 1947.

Famous Swing Musicians

The most famous swing musician or the “King of Swing” is Benny Goodman and he played a huge role in inspiring musicians to go from the Jazz they were used to to the more swing style.  If Benny Goodman was the king the Artie Shaw was probably the prince of the genre.  Among the other famous swing musicians you will find Cab Calloway, Count Basie and Duke Ellington.

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Hire a Swing Band for Your Next Special Event

You  may be organizing a private party, a wedding reception or a corporate event and would like to impress the stakeholders including the bosses and for all these events to click, be enjoyable and memorable, great entertainment must be incorporated. Entertainments can vary in many forms like comedy, drama and even songs but nothing can outdo a swing band in real entertainment.

These swing bands cover a broad range of sounds and moods like mixing jazz, rhythm and blues, the lindy hop, jump jive or rock and roll. Depending on the type of the event, particular swings feature since they cover specific moods. Again these bands vary in size and should be proportional to the attendants of the event. A large band may not favor a small occasion likewise a small band may not be suitable for a large event with numerous attendants.

Who is in the Band

They come with many instruments like the double bass, brass section, the piano, electric guitar and the harmony vocals. What makes the swing bands more interesting is their sharp image, their appearance and stage presence. Their image is usually retro that is the 1940s and 1960s style. They will take an individual to an era of style with classical music which used to be played in the 1920s. If the music is played live, it’s more entertaining and it suits both the young and old alike. The guests who would love to dance will get the opportunity while those who will sit to watch, clap and tap their feet will also be free to do so. There are many Swing bands and the Prestige Swing, Sinatra Swingers, Swing Central are just but a few of the famous bands.

Check out the Band First

For an organizer to ensure quality during performance, there has to be a great demo CD or video. Again, great photos, customer reviews, equipment and experience in the industry must be considered. During the event, the band will arrive in time to set their equipment like the PA system, sound checks to ensure quality performance. For good performance, the stage for performing must be standard to suit the size of the band like a three piece band only require three by three meters at minimum. Again, the room should be comfortable.

All in all, bands will perform better within their capability. Their performance may last for one or two hours to keep the guests going. On the price to be paid, the size, quality and experience of the band will play a great role in determining. Minimum price might be four hundred pounds and higher than three thousand pounds. It all depends on the budget.

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