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Christopher Wilkinson

[sweet jazz]

The term “sweet dance music” is used to define both a repertory and a performance practice. It appeared in print for the first time in the late 1920s and continued to be used regularly until the 1950s, often as a pejorative label for a style that was in many respects the antithesis of jazz. In addition to American popular songs, the repertory included genres of European origin: waltzes, polkas, and “light classics,” among others. The style was frequently characterized by music that was fully arranged with little if any improvisation played by bands having an instrumentation similar to that of jazz bands of the 1930s: reeds, brass, and a rhythm section supplemented in some instances by strings. The musicians use a straight tone, not individualized sonorities characteristic of hot jazz. Arrangements typically use symmetrical rhythms with little or no swing in slow to moderate tempos. Singers also employ a straight tone and equally symmetrical rhythms rather than jazz-based vocalisms....

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J. Bradford Robinson

A quality attributed to jazz performance. Though basic to the perception and performance of jazz, swing has resisted concise definition or description. Most attempts at such refer to it as primarily a rhythmic phenomenon, resulting from the conflict between a fixed pulse and the wide variety of accent and rubato that a jazz performer plays against it. However, such a conflict alone does not necessarily produce swing, and a rhythm section may even play a simple fixed pulse with varied amounts or types of swing. Clearly other properties are also involved, of which one is probably the forward propulsion imparted to each note by a jazz player through manipulation of timbre, attack, vibrato, intonation or other means; this combines with the proper rhythmic placement of each note to produce swing in a great variety of ways.

Heath, Ted

Popular music, §I, 3(ii): Europe & North America: An outline history

Williams, Cootie...

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Max Harrison

A term coined in the 1920s partly in connection with attempts, some of them sponsored by Paul Whiteman, to fuse jazz with classical forms, and therefore a predecessor of the term Third stream. The tendency emerged before jazz was identified as such, and there are a number of works such as Frederick Delius's Appalachia (1896, rev. 1903), subtitled ‘Variations on an old Slave Song’, which reveal a keen perception of specifically American song and dance idioms.

Perhaps symphonic jazz may be said to have begun with George Gershwin's one-act opera Blue Monday (1922), although a variety of comparable works appeared during the same period from both the classical and jazz camps, among them two ballets – Darius Milhaud's La création du monde (1923) and Cole Porter's Within the Quota (1923, revived as Times Past, 1970). It was Blue Monday, however, that led Whiteman to commission ...

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Colette Simonot

A style of popular music in which the synthesizer dominates. The precursors to synthpop include Kraftwerk, Jean-Michel Jarre, Gary Numan, and Giorgio Moroder, who experimented with synthesized sounds in the 1970s and earlier. Synthesizers soon became inexpensive enough to be widely used, and in the late 1970s and the 1980s several bands adopted the synthesizer as the basis of their musical style, which came to be known as synthpop. The style promotes artificiality, or synthetic sounds. Artists do not use synthesizers to imitate acoustic instruments, but instead exploit unique electronic sounds. Vocals may be void of emotion to complement the machine-made sounds. Rhythms tend to be mechanical and ostinato patterns are common. Synthpop was dominated by such British artists as Soft Cell, OMD, Ultravox, the Human League, Depeche Mode, Erasure, Talk Talk, the Thompson Twins, Bronski Beat, Howard Jones, and the Eurythmics. Synthpop artists are usually linked to the New wave...

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Techno  

Will Fulford-Jones

A form of 20th-century club dance music. As its name suggests, it is mostly electronic and at its genesis was a mix of Chicago house music, funk, early hip hop and electro. The term was first used in 1988 to describe the music of the DJs and musicians Kevin Saunderson, Juan Atkins and Derrick May in Detroit. The style was relatively simple in structure and tempo: like practically all club dance music it was in 4/4, with a pounding bass-drum effect often driving through the music. It was more relentlessly percussive and artificial than the contemporary house music, without which techno, however, would not exist. Beyond the rhythm track and bass line, instrumentation was basic and invariably electronic, a minimalist approach that owed as much to Kraftwerk as to other concurrent dance music. The term soon expanded to take in more mainstream pop such as Saunderson’s Inner City, whose approach was more song-based than before. The synthesized artifice of techno developed still further in the early 1990s, so much so that almost any dance music that could not reasonably be described as house or garage was given the label, from the ambient techno of The Orb or the acid house-influenced music of Baby Ford to the dub reggae-influenced sounds of Andrew Weatherall’s Sabres of Paradise....

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Robert Walser

A term often used in the 1980s to distinguish a faster, heavily distorted kind of Heavy metal from the more melodic and popular styles. Speed metal developed in the San Francisco Bay area as an underground, alternative style of heavy metal around 1981; its main pioneers were Metallica, Megadeth and, in New York, Anthrax. When speed metal bands began incorporating more punk influences, such as a growling vocal style and sarcastic or critical lyrics, the style was called thrash metal, reflecting a thrashing quality of motion in music and dance; other respected practitioners were Testament, Exodus, and Possessed. The New Wave of British Heavy Metal at the turn of the 1980s was an important influence on thrash musicians, but their most important ancestor was the British band Motörhead, which had played for both metal and punk audiences in the 1970s. However, thrash metal’s emphasis on instrumental virtuosity – particularly fast guitar solos and the precise ensemble execution of complex song structures – made it distinctly different from punk and hardcore. Thrash bands often used unusual metres, too, as well as sudden tempo and style changes....

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Alyn Shipton

A style of traditional jazz current in Britain between the mid-1950s and the early 1960s. The term was applied to a particularly commercial and simplified form of revivalist jazz which was modelled on the serious attempts of Ken Colyer and Chris Barber to re-create New Orleans styles. Trad bands followed the instrumentation of New Orleans groups (trumpet, trombone, clarinet, banjo, double bass and drums); the principal and most influential were those of Barber, Acker Bilk and Kenny Ball. Their repertory was bland, ranging from jazz interpretations of popular songs and nursery rhymes (such as Barber’s Bobby Shaftoe, 1954, Decca) to cloying, sentimental clarinet solos, notably those of Monty Sunshine (with Barber) and Bilk, whose greatest hit was his theme music for the television series ‘Stranger on the Shore’. The brief vogue for trad resulted in part from shrewd marketing techniques, which featured such anachronistic touches as the association of Bilk’s band with bowler hats and Victorian waistcoats. A number of bands were formed to exploit the commercial potential of trad, but they proved short-lived, and after riots at the Beaulieu Festival in ...

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Lawrence Gushee

A term that arose in polemical writings of the late 1930s to distinguish New Orleans jazz of the 1920s from the swing style of the 1930s; it was later applied to the music of New Orleans revival groups, and is now used almost exclusively in that sense. Beginning in 1938, four forces led to a revival of a supposedly authentic New Orleans style: first, several nationally prominent black jazz musicians (Sidney Bechet, Jelly Roll Morton and Jimmie Noone) were recorded playing a purportedly traditional repertory using traditional instrumentation; second, a significant number of white musicians, both in the USA (Turk Murphy and Lu Watters in San Francisco) and elsewhere, turned to recordings of the 1920s New Orleans jazz for models; third, a number of older black New Orleans musicians who had never or rarely played outside Louisiana were recorded by white aficionados; finally, older dixieland jazz musicians, many of whom had retired to New Orleans, were recorded from the mid-1950s, often under the auspices of the New Orleans Jazz Club. The music of the third group (beginning with the recordings made under Kid Rena’s leadership in ...

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Mark Clague and Dan Archdeacon

Growing out of the Detroit Artists Workshop (founded 1964), Trans-Love Energies (TLE, formally, Trans-Love Energies Unlimited, Inc.) was an anti-establishment commune founded in Detroit in February 1967. Its mission was to “produce, promote, manage, and otherwise represent musical and other artists, in recordings, concerts, tours, media, and related fields of culture and entertainment, including films, books, posters, light and sound environments—all on a cooperative, non-profit basis, for the purpose of educating and informing the general public in terms of contemporary art forms and cultural patterns.”

An umbrella corporation, TLE included a production company, a light show and poster company, the Artists’ Workshop Press (distributor and publisher of underground newspapers, including the Warren-Forest Sun), and many side enterprises that helped fund commune operations. Inspired by rock music’s potential to catalyze social change, TLE managed musical acts including the Up, Iggy and the Stooges, and most notably the MC5. The activist leader John Sinclair (...

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Will Fulford-Jones

A form of 20th-century club dance music. It owes part of its sound to hip hop, although it is considerably slower, generally using lugubrious, loping 4/4 rhythms, and also takes in influences from electro, jazz and techno. Early trip hop from 1994 was heavily based on hip hop, with artists such as RPM, La Funk Mob and DJ Shadow manipulating hip hop beats with scratching and sampling. The following year, the sound developed further and, with the advent of artists such as Tricky and Portishead, became more song- than sound-based. Instrumentation tended to be sparse: keyboards and percussion were common, but a string section, guitars or a DJ less so. There was an emphasis on the bass line, either electronically generated or from a bass guitar, and on the slowed-down hip hop rhythms. It was frequently repetitive, riff-based and in the minor key, and also differed from earlier trip hop in that it used vocalists, frequently both rappers and singers. The groove-based ...

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J. Bradford Robinson

A term for the practice of jazz singing in which texts (newly invented) are set to recorded jazz improvisations. The word is a pun on the term ‘vocalise’, combining the ideas of a jazz ‘vocal’ and a private language (indicated by the suffix ‘-ese’). Eddie Jefferson performed vocalese from the 1940s, but the best-known early recordings were made by King Pleasure, including his version of Jefferson’s Moody’s Mood for Love (1952, Prst.), based on a saxophone solo by James Moody, and his own setting of Parker’s Mood (1953, Prst.), using Charlie Parker’s blues improvisation of that title. Other important practitioners of vocalese were Dave Lambert, Annie Ross and, above all, Jon Hendricks, who was extremely inventive in creating texts to capture the feeling of the original solos. In 1957 Lambert, Hendricks and Ross (later Yolande Bavan) formed a vocal trio which attained some commercial success with their vocalese; it disbanded in ...

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Barry Kernfeld

A substyle of Bop, serving as a continuation of the preceding Cool jazz substyle among predominantly white musicians based in the Los Angeles area in the mid-1950s. Miles Davis’s nonet recordings of 1949–50, collected together under the rubric of the ‘Birth of the Cool’, were particularly influential on the West Coast players. These were less distinguished improvisers than Davis, with the notable exception of Art Pepper, and therefore came to rely on a formulaic approach in which group arrangements tended to be more interesting than individual solos. The style also suffered from its reliance on a small circle of studio musicians (headed by Shorty Rogers), whose appearance in various combinations gave the music a certain sameness. Perhaps its most innovative contributions came in the small group performances involving Shelly Manne (on his album The Three, 1954, Cont.) and Jimmy Guiffre, who while working essentially in a bop-derived idiom, also explored ideas that prefigured some of the more delicate qualities of free jazz. Despite the fact that a few important black-American players, most notably Hampton Hawes, were deeply involved in the style, its consideration raises politically charged issues: it is difficult to disentangle West Coast jazz from the notoriously racist policies of the Hollywood studios, in which environment many of its practitioners worked....