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The Swing Era


1.  all styles of jazz from Dixieland to contemporary are still being performed and recorded today; all style dates given are the approximations of when each respective style came to the forefront of jazz and experienced its most concentrated development; of course, styles and dates overlap

2. National Center for History in the Schools, UCLA

3. Music Educators National Association

4. Student handouts may be down loaded from the web site, printed, and photocopied.

5. Any material from the web site may be down loaded, printed, and made into a transparency as the instructor sees fit.

6. IHJ = selection is found on Willie Hill's The Instrumental History of Jazz; Web = selection is found on the Monk Institute Jazz in America National Curriculum web site (www.jazzinamerica.org)

TOPICS: The Swing Era (aka the Big Band Era): 1935 - 19451

  1. Transition from Dixieland
  2. Performance Practices
  3. Important Figures
  4. Cultural Implications

National Standards for United States History (Grades 9-12)2

Historical Thinking
Students should be able to:
  1. draw upon visual, literary, and musical sources (Historical Comprehension Standard 2i)
  2. compare and contrast differing sets of ideas, values, personalities, behaviors, andinstitutions (Historical Analysis and Interpretation Standard 3a)
  3. consider multiple perspectives (Historical Analysis and Interpretation Standard 3b)
  4. hypothesize the influence of the past (Historical Analysis Interpretation Standard 3j)
  5. obtain historical data (Historical Research Capabilities Standard 4b)
Historical Content
Students should:
  1. understand how American life changed during the 1930s (Great Depression and World War II Standard 1b), able to explain the cultural life of the Depression years in art, literature, and music and evaluate the government’s role in promoting artistic expression
  2. understand the New Deal and the presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt (The Great Depression and World War II 1929-1945 Standard 2a), able to analyze the involvement of minorities and women in the New Deal and its impact upon them
  3. understand the effects of World War II at home (Great Depression and World War II 1929-1945 Standard 3c), able to explore how the war fostered cultural exchange and interaction while promoting nationalism and American identity, and evaluate how minorities confronted discrimination

National Standards for Arts Education (Music Grades 9-12)3

Content Standard #6 - Listening to, Analyzing, and Describing Music
  1. analyze aural examples of a varied repertoire of music, representing diverse genres and cultures, by describing the uses of elements of music and expressive devices
  2. demonstrate extensive knowledge of the technical vocabulary of music
  3. identify and explain compositional devices and techniques used to provide unity and variety and tension and release in a musical work and give examples of other works that make similar uses of these devices and techniques
  4. demonstrate the ability to perceive and remember music events by describing in detail significant events occurring in a given aural example
  5. compare ways in which musical materials are used in a given example relative to ways in which they are used in other works of the same genre or style
  6. analyze and describe uses of the elements of music in a given work that make it unique, interesting, and expressive
Content Standard #9 - Understanding Music in Relation to History and Culture
  1. classify by genre or style and by historical period or culture unfamiliar but representative aural examples of music and explain the reasoning behind their classifications
  2. identify sources of American music genres, trace the evolution of those genres, and cite well-known musicians associated with them
  3. identify various roles that musicians perform, cite representative individuals who have functioned in each role, and describe their activities and achievements
  4. identify and explain the stylistic features of a given musical work that serve to define its aesthetic tradition and its historical or cultural context.
  5. identify and describe music genres or styles that show the influence of two or more cultural traditions, identify the cultural source of each influence, and trace the historical conditions that produced the synthesis of influences

The student will
  1. gain a fundamental understanding of the Swing Era
    1. transition from Dixieland
    2. performance practices
  2. learn the basic definition of several terms associated with jazz
    1. arrangement
    2. polyphony
    3. homophony
    4. rhythm section
    5. unison vs. harmony
    6. call and response
    7. soli
    8. intonation
    9. virtuoso
  3. listen to Swing Era recordings
  4. become acquainted with Lester Young and Benny Goodman
  5. participate in a class discussion regarding jazz's contribution to and reflection of American culture in the 1930s and early '40s

  1. CD player
  2. chalkboard (with chalk and eraser)
  3. overhead projector (optional)
  4. computer logged onto www.jazzinamerica.org (optional)

  1. The Instrumental History of Jazz
    1. two CDs
    2. accompanying booklet
  2. Student Handouts (one per student)4
    1. chapter glossary
    2. one American History (AH) handout: Race Relations During the Great Depression and World War II
    3. Swing Era Characteristics
    4. time line (Swing era)
    5. Jazz Biographies (JB) handout (Lester Young and Benny Goodman)
  3. Overhead projector transparencies5

The instructor will
  1. distribute student handouts
  2. have students read and discuss the student handout, Race Relations During the Great Depression and World War II
  3. discuss the Swing Era
  4. examine the biographical sketches of Lester Young and Benny Goodman
  5. play significant Swing Era recordings
    1. Wrappin' It Up, Fletcher Henderson (IHJ) and/or I Got Rhythm, Benny Goodman (Web)6
    2. One O'clock Jump, Count Basie Orchestra (IHJ) and/or Jumpin' at the Woodside, CountBasie Orchestra (Web)
    3. East St. Louis Toodle-o, Duke Ellington & His Orchestra (IHJ) and/or Main Stem, Duke Ellington & His Orchestra (Web)
  6. lead a class discussion regarding jazz's contribution to and reflection of American culture during the Swing Era

Test Bank 
  1. Multiple Choice
  2. Fill in the Blank
  3. True-False
  4. Matching
  5. Essay

the Herbie Hancock institute of jazz
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