Swing Music and History

Swing music came out after the Great Depression, and was performed mostly by big bands. The beauty of this form was that it was live at large clubs or halls where people went to dance. It gave the people a place to go and unwind during such a tough period in time. Such greats as Duke Ellington would perform to large crowds of dancers on a regular basis. The great thing with the live performances was that popular songs could be played longer and improvised by the addition of guest musicians. The music itself was lively and uplifting which inspired those who were looking for wholesome entertainment during that period.

swing in the 1930s

It provided a feel good lifestyle for those looking see a brighter view of the world. It spawned a number of stars who emerged on the scene like Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. The created a persona of “cool” and “hip” that revolved around the music and the easy going lifestyle is portrayed. They really served as role models for those who really weren’t sure where this country was headed. This led to movies that showed the lifestyle and were laced with accompanying swing music to provide a proper backdrop. The group came to be known as “The Rat Pack”.

The Rat Pack

A great many artist today use this form as a framework for the tunes they create. Michael Buble is a huge fan of this genre and has shared that swing music has a great influence on his writing. Jon Kois uses the influence in his beginner drums lesson to show how the timing came be transferable to other forms of music. Swing consists of two main types of time measure. The is 4/4 and 4/8. The sound is fast and upbeat, and is very similar to more modern jazz pieces as well as Latin.

Where is Swing Music today? Well, it seems to be cropping back up in a lot of places. The interest is re-surging, and there are clubs popping up in every major city across the US. When I was in New York, there was a group that would meet in the park, and dance to the big band music out of a CD player. Why? Who knows. Maybe it was the recession, or peoples’ need for more intimate contact in an isolated world. Whatever the case, it is a wholesome form of entertainment, and I’m glad it’s making a comeback.