14 Facts About Bebop


Bebop or bop is a style of jazz developed in the early-to-mid-1940s in the United States.

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Bebop developed as the younger generation of jazz musicians expanded the creative possibilities of jazz beyond the popular, dance-oriented swing music-style with a new "musician's music" that was not as danceable and demanded close listening.

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Bebop musicians explored advanced harmonies, complex syncopation, altered chords, extended chords, chord substitutions, asymmetrical phrasing, and intricate melodies.

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Bebop groups used rhythm sections in a way that expanded their role.

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Bebop differed drastically from the straightforward compositions of the swing era and was instead characterized by fast tempos, asymmetrical phrasing, intricate melodies, and rhythm sections that expanded on their role as tempo-keepers.

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Bebop musicians employed several harmonic devices not typical of previous jazz.

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Bebop musicians eliminated Western-style functional harmony in their music while retaining the strong central tonality of the blues as a basis for drawing upon various African matrices.

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Bebop was especially enthralled by their tenor saxophone player Lester Young, who played long flowing melodic lines that wove in and out of the chordal structure of the composition but somehow always made musical sense.

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Bebop's phrasing was far removed from the two or four bar phrases that horn players had used until then.

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Bebop would take a breath in the middle of a phrase, using the pause, or "free space", as a creative device.

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Bebop originated as "musicians' music", played by musicians with other money-making gigs who did not care about the commercial potential of the new music.

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Bebop was taking root in Los Angeles as well, among such modernists as trumpeters Howard McGhee and Art Farmer, alto players Sonny Criss and Frank Morgan, tenor players Teddy Edwards and Lucky Thompson, trombonist Melba Liston, pianists Dodo Marmarosa, Jimmy Bunn and Hampton Hawes, guitarist Barney Kessel, bassists Charles Mingus and Red Callender, and drummers Roy Porter and Connie Kay.

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Bebop's show style, influenced by black vaudeville circuit entertainers, seemed like a throwback to some and offended some purists, but it was laced with a subversive sense of humor that gave a glimpse of attitudes on racial matters that black musicians had previously kept away from the public at large.

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Bebop style influenced the Beat Generation whose spoken-word style drew on African-American "jive" dialog, jazz rhythms, and whose poets often employed jazz musicians to accompany them.

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