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Why is 40's Swing so addicting?


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Maybe because they hired a specialist for each role. Composers wrote the music. Lyricists wrote the lyrics. Arrangers prepared the charts. A bandleader led a group that consisted of specialists on each instrument. The singer was someone who's job was to sing, not to write songs, make movies, or trash hotel rooms. When they wanted to present the song in a video format, they hired a real director to make a real movie, and the dancing was coordinated by a real choreographer. The best, most experienced person was hired for every step of the production. No wonder 40's music is called "standards." It was the standard of excellence and still is.

The Black Knight always triumphs!

 

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It's interesting that in almost every industry EXCEPT music, division of labor has taken place and each person has their own role or job. The reverse seems to have happened for a lot of music. Sure, there are still 'musicians' and 'producers' and 'songwriters' and 'session players' but the lines seem to be blurring in many cases.
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Dan, I will have to agree with you on this one,i personally don't listen to that era much but it was a magical era.In some ways i think that this is what inspired the Motown way of working. Monk
I cannot be bought, and I cannot be threatened. But if you put them both together then I'm your man!"
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If you hire all those "specialists" these days everyone calls it "manufactured"! Don't forget that the idea of having a ghost songer behind the curtain was invented for some of those movies. How about Benny Goodman? He ripped off all of Charlie Christian's riffs and copyrighted them as his "compositions". I guess the sins of today are really nothing new. If they had Autotune they surely would've used it. Anyway, that's my Dad's music! I'm a product of the '60's! Jimi Rulez!

Mac Bowne

G-Clef Acoustics Ltd.

Osaka, Japan

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[quote]Originally posted by the anti-midi monk: [b]Dan, I will have to agree with you on this one,i personally don't listen to that era much but it was a magical era.In some ways i think that this is what inspired the Motown way of working. Monk[/b][/quote]Yeah, good point on Motown. Motown and Philadelphia International Records were kind of the last vestiges of specialization in pop music. I wonder whether specialization may make a comeback someday. That's not necessarily a positive or a negative thing. When people write their own songs, there's an intimacy built into the material that you can get from specialists. Food for thought.

The Black Knight always triumphs!

 

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[quote]Originally posted by Dan South: [b]Maybe because they hired a specialist for each role. Composers wrote the music. Lyricists wrote the lyrics. Arrangers prepared the charts. A bandleader led a group that consisted of specialists on each instrument. The singer was someone who's job was to sing, not to write songs, make movies, or trash hotel rooms. When they wanted to present the song in a video format, they hired a real director to make a real movie, and the dancing was coordinated by a real choreographer. The best, most experienced person was hired for every step of the production. No wonder 40's music is called "standards." It was the standard of excellence and still is.[/b][/quote]Great topic. In the late 80's or so there was a little-known movie called "Swing Kids." It was about kids in Hamburg, Germany right before WWII, and the ban on Swing music. The soundtrack is some of the best stuff of swing, and it is just KILLER. Hearing that music redone in modern studios just brings a whole new life to it. My fav from it is Benny Goodman's "Sing, Sing, Sing." I collect original Swing sheet music. I have a stack of it about 3 feet high. There's some great stuff there.
Setup: Korg Kronos 61, Roland XV-88, Korg Triton-Rack, Motif-Rack, Korg N1r, Alesis QSR, Roland M-GS64 Yamaha KX-88, KX76, Roland Super-JX, E-Mu Longboard 61, Kawai K1II, Kawai K4.
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[quote]Originally posted by Dan South: [b]Motown and Philadelphia International Records were kind of the last vestiges of specialization in pop music. I wonder whether specialization may make a comeback someday. That's not necessarily a positive or a negative thing. When people write their own songs, there's an intimacy built into the material that you can get from specialists. [/b][/quote]That's an interesting question. I could see that specialization is somewhat defined by the cost of entry. High cost of entry (expensive orchestras and studios) means more specialization. But what makes specialization successful or unsuccessful? Some of our rock heroes were I-do-everything rebels. Jerry
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"why is 1940's swing so addicting?" My answer: Rhythm Section. Swing, jazz, salsa, and a few other types of music just str8 up don't fool around when it comes to bass guitar && drums. Even if you're paying attention to the vocals, or the horns, on a subconscious level (maybe even a primal level) the way that the bass and drums just lock together makes your body want to move to it. :D

Dr. Seuss: The Original White Rapper

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Joegerardi had it right. The "swing" era was the '30's, not the '40's. Althought some "swingers" persisted in the '40's and into the '50's, Louis Prima in particular. The latest rash of the recent "swing" bands actually mixed their genres and eras, but to good effect. And I don't think it was only for the reasons presented by Dan, but also that the music had a tempo and vibrance that a lot of people even in this day and age can't help but tap their feet to. My three year old grandnephew can't sit still when I play my Benny Goodman Quartet CD! Whitefang
I started out with NOTHING...and I still have most of it left!
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[quote]Originally posted by whitefang: [b]Joegerardi had it right. The "swing" era was the '30's, not the '40's. [/b][/quote]Swing covered both decades and reached its apex in the 40's. Also, recording technology had improved by leaps and bounds in the 40's, so the later swing sounds better on recordings.

The Black Knight always triumphs!

 

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Yeah, like I said. But in the '40's, there seemed to be a lot of syrup pouring out of those big band's horns. And crooners seemed to take precedence over most other vocalists of the day. At least in honkeytown. Whitefang
I started out with NOTHING...and I still have most of it left!
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Why is 30s and 40s swing addictive? Because it plain feels goooood. It makes you feel good. It feels good to listen to. It's music that has joy in it. It's what music used to be for, the pursuit of happiness - or, in the forties, kicks! To invoke another thread, it is about as far from the experience of listening to a downer like Papa Roach as you can get. There's a use for a Count Basie record that didn't exist when he cut it: put it on to try and forget that you just had to listen to a Papa Roach song. You'll be a different man by the shout chorus, I'll guarantee it. And, like Joe G said, a modern recording of some of that music will put it in perspective. It will help you hear it the way those jitterbug-crazed fools heard it on the dance floor.

"I had to have something, and it wasn't there. I couldn't go down the street and buy it, so I built it."

 

Les Paul

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[quote]Originally posted by Jode: [b]Why is 30s and 40s swing addictive? Because it plain feels goooood. It makes you feel good. It feels good to listen to. It's music that has joy in it. It's what music used to be for, the pursuit of happiness - or, in the forties, kicks![/b][/quote]Good point!! Think about what was going on in the world at the time. The Great Depression. Prohibition (in the USA). World War II. Polio. Rationing. Sacrifice. Abject poverty. The music HAD to be uplifting. It was the only think keeping people sane. Recent times have been a little tougher, but nothing like the thirties and forties. People want for very little. Even the "poor" have cars and stylish clothes. Where once people went hungry, now many starve themselves or even throw up to lose weight. Life is easy, so it's fashionable to wear your angst on your shoulder and complain about how your family ruined you. In the Depression Era, problems weren't a fashion statement, they were real, and they were severe. People starved and died. Families were ruined. War claimed the lives of millions. That was the backdrop of swing music. That music had to celebrate joy and humanity and true love and prosperity, because the people who lived in that era knew how precious those things really were.

The Black Knight always triumphs!

 

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Specialization is still quite entrenched in Country music. While there are many crossovers of singer-songwriters becoming stars, even most of them perform a mix of their own material and songs harvested from publishers' staff songwriters. Producers may come from the engineering, session playing, and performing ranks, but almost all are known as producers. It's common for people to be surprised to find out that ___ producer can play an instrument well or sing well enough to perform for a living. And yes, gtrmac is correct. The longer Country stays in the spotlight, the more outsiders and some country fans complain the acts and artists are manufactured and sterile sounding, regardless of whether it's true. Some are and some aren't, regardless of whether they play their own instruments or bring in the session aces. Swing is an upbeat, happy to the core music designed to get people dancing [i]with each other![/i] Not standing in the same vicinity and moving independently. Everyone danced in concert with their partner. The music reflects the sheer joy of dancing, and as Dan pointed out, it reflects the need of 1930's and '40's era people to wash away their troubles when they went dancing, or watched films. It reminds me of Bill Murray's speech at the end of Scrooged. He speaks of giving to others and how great it feels.. and how much you want that feeling to go on and on and on. Swing music has that joy, and you do want it to just keep playing, IMO.

It's easiest to find me on Facebook. Neil Bergman

 

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[b] quote:Originally posted by Jode: Why is 30s and 40s swing addictive? Because it plain feels goooood. It makes you feel good. It feels good to listen to. It's music that has joy in it. It's what music used to be for, the pursuit of happiness - or, in the forties, kicks!Good point!! Think about what was going on in the world at the time. The Great Depression. Prohibition (in the USA). World War II. Polio. Rationing. Sacrifice. Abject poverty. The music HAD to be uplifting. It was the only think keeping people sane. Recent times have been a little tougher, but nothing like the thirties and forties. People want for very little. Even the "poor" have cars and stylish clothes. Where once people went hungry, now many starve themselves or even throw up to lose weight. Life is easy, so it's fashionable to wear your angst on your shoulder and complain about how your family ruined you. In the Depression Era, problems weren't a fashion statement, they were real, and they were severe. People starved and died. Families were ruined. War claimed the lives of millions. That was the backdrop of swing music. That music had to celebrate joy and humanity and true love and prosperity, because the people who lived in that era knew how precious those things really were. [/b] Jode and Dan... Damn... i'm blown away by both your guys's posts. I'd say you guys summed up perfectly the kind of stories that my grandmother used to tell me. It really humbles you to think about that stuff when you've grown up a bit. She would sometimes say "music was about the only thing us schoolage kids had". Damn. And that being said, I've always liked swing-type music when i heard it... but a few years ago i actually went out and bought some swing-type stuff. I've never looked at music the same way since. Period.

Dr. Seuss: The Original White Rapper

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WWND?

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and have you ever seen a swing band perform? A guy dancing with his upright bass, horns just blasting from redfaced, hyperventillated guys jumping all over the place, dude pounding the shiite out of his drumset... Those guys played ther asses off! I saw a (modern) swing band play at a county fair, the drummer had at most a 5-piece set, but he was creating the illusion of a huge drum kit- he was getting about a dozen different percussive sounds out of his snare drum, depending on where and how he hit it. He had one big ass cymbal but if you listened you were hearing both a crash and ride, and the highhat.... damn.. amazing stuff. I can't dance to save my life, but during the whole time i was within earshot of this band i just could NOT stand still. Swing was the rock n roll before rock n roll was invented.

Dr. Seuss: The Original White Rapper

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WWND?

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[quote]Originally posted by Dan South: [b] Think about what was going on in the world at the time. The Great Depression. Prohibition (in the USA). World War II. Polio. Rationing. Sacrifice. Abject poverty. The music HAD to be uplifting. It was the only think keeping people sane. Recent times have been a little tougher, but nothing like the thirties and forties. People want for very little. Even the "poor" have cars and stylish clothes. Where once people went hungry, now many starve themselves or even throw up to lose weight. Life is easy, so it's fashionable to wear your angst on your shoulder and complain about how your family ruined you. In the Depression Era, problems weren't a fashion statement, they were real, and they were severe. People starved and died. Families were ruined. War claimed the lives of millions. That was the backdrop of swing music. That music had to celebrate joy and humanity and true love and prosperity, because the people who lived in that era knew how precious those things really were.[/b][/quote]dan, that was nice. inspiring enough that its now my computers desktop. maybe my same age friends will see it and think twice when we moan and bitch about our "strife" thanks.. its easy to forget these days
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Two friends of mine David Mooney and Keren Summers sing in a Big Band... http://scad.com.au/jwswing/lineup.html I recently recorded a demo with them and it's a pleasure to work with people with a professional attitude compared to half these 'wannabe' rock stars who are all 'sizzle' and NO 'sausage'!! :)
"WARNING!" - this artificial fruit juice may contain traces of REAL FRUIT!!
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There were many a big band in those days, Geenard. And, like many a rock band, not really all that famous, if at all. Many on this forum talk about their music as opposed to their day jobs. Back in those times, music WAS their day jobs. And paid squat to boot! And if they weren't all virtuosos, and a great deal of them WEREN'T, the music STILL kicked because the players had a genuine LOVE for what they were doing. Hell, you HAD to then. On the road a lot, in cars that could crap totally out any minute, sleeping while sitting cramped with the bandmates. This was all they did, not after work or on the weekends. No session work to cover the bills at home. Most HAD no homes except whatever band vehicle they travelled in. You lived, breathed, ate and slept that music. Either that, or you got nowhere at all with it. Probably why musicians to this day have a rep for fast, hard living on the "edge". Nobody then fooled themselves thinking of getting into one of those bands for the money. What little it paid the crux of the musicians in those times MEANT you had to have a deep and unshakeable love for it to even consider the lifestyle it required. Otherwise, they'd have all gone to TRADE school or something. Whitefang
I started out with NOTHING...and I still have most of it left!
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[quote]Originally posted by Jode: [b]Why is 30s and 40s swing addictive? Because it plain feels goooood. It makes you feel good. It feels good to listen to. It's music that has joy in it. It's what music used to be for, the pursuit of happiness - or, in the forties, kicks! To invoke another thread, it is about as far from the experience of listening to a downer like Papa Roach as you can get. There's a use for a Count Basie record that didn't exist when he cut it: put it on to try and forget that you just had to listen to a Papa Roach song. You'll be a different man by the shout chorus, I'll guarantee it. And, like Joe G said, a modern recording of some of that music will put it in perspective. It will help you hear it the way those jitterbug-crazed fools heard it on the dance floor.[/b][/quote]Ditto to the max, Jode and similar replies. I cut my listening teeth on 40's through same-era early 50's songs, and after donwnloading a few wav's of them a few days ago (thanks, DSL) they sound as rich and warm and vibrant and totally listenable now as they did to my elementary-school-through-high-school ears then. As a band player of that music as well as listener, one thing I might add is that the sound was special because the musicians -- [1] Musically played WITH each other and didn't jockey to stand out sonically in the performance. The musical integrity of one's section (reeds, brass, percussion) and how well it blended into the band as a whole was paramount, and because we were on one accord about that achieving that harmony in relative dynamics seemed. almost intuitive. THE SONG RULED, and it was just as satisfying to play a quiet part with musical finesse and togetherness as to skillfully blast an explosive fanfare or ending. [2] KNEW THE SONG RULED (said that already , but important - it was the glue that made us and the song sound good)! Our attitude was that it's good for all concerned that we learn to play Take The "A" Train (and Au Claire De Lune, on another tip) like the composers composed them instead of or before transforming it into ... whatever. Lots of skilled, self-disciplined AND creative musicplayers were born of that kind of band mentality and regimen. [3] Engaged in friendly fraternization before during and after the performance. Most hangovers were hung up before arriving and fallout from spouse fights carefully kept off stage. [4] For the most part, uncooperative prima donnas were peer pressured into shaping up, or pounded into it (verbally, with some professional constraint) by strong band leaders. ( By the way -- I downloaded and heard Papa Roach's "Last Resort" -- I SEEEEEEE what you mean! )
-- Music has miracle potential --
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I will always be able to listen to Ellington. 50 years from now, he'll still be hailed a genius. We don't see too much of that in the media these days. There's a lot of genius out there, but you have to search through a lot of crap to find it. I miss Duke and everything he stood for.
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I've probably bought more 40's music in the past 2 years than anything else. Jazz, swing, blues. I would not call the blues "produced" but it has a lot of emotion. I also like the 40's channel on XM Radio. Robert
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I think also that a lot of it was the chordal structure. As I posted earlier, I have a huge stack of original Big Band sheet music, and in studying it, the most glaring fact is that they use a LOT of 6th chords in the main rhythm. Try this experiment: Set up a walking upright bass that plays the root, 3rd, 5th, 6th, Dominant 7th, then back to the 6th, 5th, 3rd, all quarter time. Pattern it so that it repeats 2x, then goes up to the 4th and repeats 1 time, back to the root pattern 1x, then up to the 5th of the root, and repeat 1x again. Bring it all home to the root 1x and start over. Now, stab a major 6th chord of whatever chord the is bass playing with a decent brass patch, mainly on the off beats, and using all the notes of the 6th chord (root, 3rd, 5th, 6th) and viola! you have the foundation of a LOT of Big Band tunes. As you do it, listen how the off beats of the chord stabs syncopate with the walking bass. Throw in a simple trap kit (bass, snare, 1 tom, and a hi-hat and ride) for drums, and you'll find that you're digging it. Want to make it a little more classic "Big Band"-ish? play the horn stabs on the "and" of 1 and right on the 3rd beat of the first measure, then on the 1 of the 2nd measure, and then on the "and" of 2 and 3 of the second measure. Listen how all those thick chords really have a life to them. Listen how it comps. Think of how easy it is to throw a melody over that, and a sax, t-bone, or clarinet lead into the mix, (called "taking a ride" in those days) generally just on the root and 5th, and you'll see how harmonically easy it is to make a simple, yet really great song. Granted, this is a simple "cookie-cutter" method to create a Big Band tune. Not ALL Big Band music was this, but many, many were. Speed it up, for a Jitterbug, slow it dwn for a Foxtrot, and the challenge and fun is to make the music cook, and make the feet move. ..Joe
Setup: Korg Kronos 61, Roland XV-88, Korg Triton-Rack, Motif-Rack, Korg N1r, Alesis QSR, Roland M-GS64 Yamaha KX-88, KX76, Roland Super-JX, E-Mu Longboard 61, Kawai K1II, Kawai K4.
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