bebop


bebop
bebopper, n.
/bee"bop'/, n. Jazz.
bop1.
[1940-45, Amer.; prob. from the nonsense syllables typical of scat singing]

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or bop

Jazz characterized by harmonic complexity, convoluted melodic lines, and frequent shifting of rhythmic accent.

In the mid-1940s, a group of musicians, including Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk, and Charlie Parker, rejected the conventions of swing to pioneer a self-consciously artistic extension of improvised jazz, which set new technical standards of velocity and harmonic subtlety. Two genres grew out of bebop in the 1950s: the delicate, dry, understated approach that came to be known as cool jazz, and the aggressive, blues-tinged earthiness of hard bop.

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jazz
also called  bop 

      the first kind of modern jazz ([ref dict="Britannica Book of the Year"]Performing Arts), which split jazz into two opposing camps in the last half of the 1940s. The word is an onomatopoeic rendering of a staccato two-tone phrase distinctive in this type of music. When it emerged, bebop was unacceptable not only to the general public but also to many musicians. The resulting breaches—first, between the older and younger schools of musicians and, second, between jazz musicians and their public—were deep, and the second never completely healed.

      Whereas earlier jazz was essentially diatonic (i.e., basing melodies and harmonies on traditional Western major and minor 7-note scales comprising 5 whole and 2 half steps), much of the thinking that informed the new movement was chromatic (drawing on all 12 notes of the chromatic scale). Thus the harmonic territory open to the jazz soloist was vastly increased.

      Bebop took the harmonies of the old jazz and superimposed on them additional “substituted” chords. It also broke up the metronomic regularity of the drummer's rhythmic pulse and produced solos played in double time with several bars packed with 16th notes. The result was complicated improvisation.

      The movement originated during the early 1940s in the playing of trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie (Gillespie, Dizzy), guitarist Charlie Christian (Christian, Charlie), pianist Thelonious Monk (Monk, Thelonious), drummer Kenny Clarke (Clarke, Kenny), and the most richly endowed of all, alto saxophonist Charlie “Bird” Parker (Parker, Charlie).

      A later style, known as hard bop, or funky, evolved from and incorporated elements of gospel music and rhythm and blues. Horace Silver (Silver, Horace) was the most prominent pianist, composer, and bandleader in this period. Cannonball Adderley (Adderley, Cannonball) and Art Blakey (Blakey, Art) led other hard bop combos.

Additional Reading
The history of bebop and its musicians is chronicled in Leonard Feather, Inside Be-Bop (1949, reprinted as Inside Jazz, 1977); Ira Gitler, Jazz Masters of the Forties (1966, reprinted 1984), and Swing to Bop: An Oral History of the Transition in Jazz in the 1940s (1985); David H. Rosenthal, Hard Bop: Jazz and Black Music, 1955–1965 (1992); and Thomas Owens, Bebop: The Music and Its Players (1995).

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Universalium. 2010.

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