Bebop

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Bebop or bop is a style of jazz characterized by fast tempo, instrumental virtuosity and improvisation based on the combination of harmonic structure and melody. It was developed in the early and mid-1940s. It first surfaced in musicians' argot some time during the first two years of American involvement in the Second World War. This style of jazz ultimately became synonymous with modern jazz, as either category reached a certain final maturity in the 1960s.

Contents

Etymology

The word "bebop" is usually stated to be nonsense syllables (vocables) which were made in scat singing, and is supposed to have been first attested in 1928.[2] Some researchers speculate that it was a term used by Charlie Christian, because it sounded like something he hummed along with his playing.[3] Dizzy Gillespie tells that the audiences coined the name after hearing him scat the then-nameless tunes to his players and the press ultimately picked it up, using it as an official term: "People, when they'd wanna ask for those numbers and didn't know the name, would ask for bebop."[4] However, possibly the most plausible theory is that it derives from the cry of "Arriba! Arriba!" used by Latin American bandleaders of the period to encourage their bands.[5] This squares with the fact that, originally, the terms "bebop" and "rebop" were used interchangeably. By 1945, the use of "bebop"/"rebop" as nonsense syllables was widespread in R&B music, for instance Lionel Hampton's "Hey! Ba-Ba-Re-Bop", and a few years later in rock and roll, for instance Gene Vincent's "Be-Bop-A-Lula" (1956).

History

The 1939 recording of "Body and Soul" by Coleman Hawkins is an important antecedent of bebop. Hawkins' willingness to stray—even briefly—from the ordinary resolution of musical themes and his playful jumps to double-time signaled a departure from existing jazz. The recording was popular; but more importantly, from a historical perspective, Hawkins became an inspiration to a younger generation of jazz musicians, most notably Charlie Parker, in Kansas City.

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