A swing craze that is rather recent prompted some nostalgia about the lives of our grandparents during their youth. The swing era thrived from the year 1935 to the year 1945, a period characterized by the absence of harmony or peace. There was war, poverty, adolescent unrest, gender discrimination, as well as racial tension. Notably, two of the world’s historical events, the Second World War and the Great Depression, occurred during this era. The official era when Swing begun dates back to the summer of the year 1929 (Dance 12).
The Second World War marked the era when Swing music was put on an ideological stance. At first, it seemed that the music had finally accomplished the mission of settling the tensions between whites and blacks. Furthermore, it was believed that Swing assisted in the better understanding of the various gender roles as well ensuring that adolescents had a lot of freedom as compared to their parents. According to Franklin Roosevelt, “music would help promote tolerance to minority groups in our midst” (Barnet 35). To add, Malcolm X claimed that black dancers would go wild with excitement when they heard Charlie Barnet, a White band. Germany was also affected by the global influence of Swing. Hitler did not want Germans to hear Swing music as it brought about racial tolerance among people.
Quite a number of technical changes have taken place and affected Swing Music. For example, the tenor sax replaced the clarinet and during solos, a drummer was used as it could effectively keep time. Furthermore, technology was used to give amplifying power to small bands as well as vocalists. The changes were necessary as they made many people embrace Swing music (Dance 46). The media also had a role to play in ensuring that the masses were informed about Swing music. A GAP commercial made Swing famous after it used the song ‘Jump, Jive an Wail’ by Louis Prima as redone by Setzer. The commercial had a significant role in validating and ensuring that the masses were still in touch with Swing.
Swing had the ability to ensure the strengthening of racial relations between whites and blacks. At the time, especially during the Second World War, race and culture were viewed as being separate and distinct. However, Swing had a force that pioneered many areas of life, particularly in terms of race relations. It is believed that there is no other facet in the life of Americans that was as ethnically and racially mixed as Swing. Some bands that had a mixture of white and black members were those headed by Teddy Wilson, Lionel Hampton, Gene Krupa, and Benny Goodman. Swing had the ability to change people’s racial attitudes as it brought about a sense of unity. Lastly, Swing was viewed as popular music, especially among its Hipster fans. They were fascinated by it owing to the fact that they could dance as much as they could to dances such as Sugarman, Lindy Hop, Jitterbug, among others. The popular music provided the fans with a sense of well-being (Schuller 80).
There are some differences between early jazz and swing jazz, which mostly had large bands performing the music. Early jazz mostly made use of bass musical instruments with a little bit of singing. On the other hand, swing jazz had a lot of singing, use of instruments, as well as danceable beats (Schuller 29).
The era of Swing Jazz was quite interesting as it had quite a meaningful and relevant history. People from different races were brought together because of the music. In the future, I will still be listening to Swing Jazz because it is entertaining and has a deep rooted history.
Schuller, Gunther. The Swing Era: The History of Jazz. New York: Oxford Press, 1989. Print.
Barnet, Charlie. Those Swinging Years. Louisiana: Louisiana State University Press, 1984, Print.
Dance, Stanley. The World of Swing. New York: Da Capo Press, 1974, Print.
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