[78-L] Big Band Era

Andrew Homzy andrew.homzy at gmail.com.invalid
Sat Jun 27 10:12:58 PDT 2020

Hi Donna,

 You are right about who comes-up with the names for different musical genres.

I’m sure that Bach & Haydn didn’t think they were representing the Baroque Era - or that Goodman’s goal was to become the best Big Band leader of the Swing Era. Dizzy didn’t call his music Be-Bop - nor did Parker.

Musicians in New Orleans didn’t call their music jazz - even after the word was well established. The only person to be called The King Of Jazz was someone who could barely play the viola and never wrote a note of music, nor was capable of improvising. Ellington stated that he stopped using the word Jazz in 1943. Duke said that “Jazz was something you did” - and his titles of compositions which contain the word jazz illustrate that definition.

A friend of mine who was a prominent arranger on the Montréal scene starting in the 40s talked with disdain about having to arrange "Ooh-Wa” music - perhaps a better description than “Doo-Wop”.

We need categories to distinguish the mundane. Ellington recognized characteristics of people and accomplishments as “Beyond Category”. Of course, that applies to himself -

Here’s an article which questions the term “World Music”.




> On Jun 27, 2020, at 8:43 AM, Donna Halper <dlh at donnahalper.com.invalid> wrote:
> On 6/27/2020 10:55 AM, RODMANLEWIS . wrote:
>>  I think the use of the term "Big Band" Era was a case of being wise after
>> the event. The 30s is now also known as the "Swing Era", but it was as much
>> the "Mickey Mouse" (aka "Sweet", "Hotel" or "Society") Era.
> As I mentioned in an earlier reply, it's often media critics and 
> historians later on who come up with these names as a retrospective on 
> the era, even though nobody called it by that name at the time. Big Band 
> is one example (although the term was being used in the late 1800s to 
> refer to large orchestras that played concerts at circuses and fairs).  
> Another good example is "doo-wop," referring to the lyrics and the 
> harmonies found in certain 1950s rhythm & blues music. I grew up in the 
> 50s, and I don't recall ever hearing anyone call it that.  Yet today, 
> "doo-wop" a common term for that music.
> -- 
> Donna L. Halper, PhD
> Associate Professor of Communication & Media Studies
> Lesley University, Cambridge MA
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