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Microphone Month

Bebop

Not (as one would think), the recommended action to take when confronted by an Africanized killer bee, nor the ensuing dance. In actuality, Bebop is the style of jazz developed by young players in the early ’40s, particularly Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Kenny Clarke, Charlie Christian, and Bud Powell. Bebop was performed more by small groups than big bands. Simple, standard tunes or just their chord progressions were used as springboards for rapid, many-noted improvisations using long, irregular, syncopated phrasing. Improvisation was based on chordal harmony rather than the melody. The higher intervals of the chords (9th, 11th and 13th) were emphasized in improvisation and in piano chord voicing. Alterations were used more freely than before, especially the augmented 11th. The ground beat was moved from the bass drum to the ride cymbal and the string bass, and the rhythmic feel is flowing and subtle. Instrumental virtuosity was stressed, while tone quality became more restrained and less obviously expressive.

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