Swing

Swing

The dominant form of American dance music for over a decade.

Cultural Origin

Late 1920s, various regions including New York, Chicago, Washington D.C., Memphis and St. Louis

Prominent Artists

Earl Hines, Lionel Hampton, Fletcher Henderson, Coleman Hawkins, Chic Webb

Influenced By

Gospel, Jazz

Later Influenced

Rhythm & Blues, Rock & Roll

Duke Ellington and his Famous Orchestra, 1945.
Duke Ellington and his Famous Orchestra, 1945.

About The Genre

Swing organized musicians into larger groups and required them to play more written music than traditional jazz. Swing brought a level of respectability to jazz, which had previously been associated with the brothels of New Orleans and the gin mills of Chicago. Pianist Fletcher Henderson and his orchestra was perhaps the most important early act in swing music. His band featured Coleman Hawkins, Benny Carter and Buster Bailey as soloists.

Although swing music's popularity declined in the 1940s, it was an important influence of  the new jack swing style in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and there was a swing revival in the 2000s featuring white artists such as the Brian Setzer Orchestra and the Cherry Poppin' Daddies.

Trivia/Famous Lyrics

DId you know...

It don't mean a thing
If it ain't got that swing
Doo wah, doo wah, doo wah, doo wah doo wah, doo wah, doo wah, doo wah

It Don't Mean a Thing by Duke Ellington


You must take the "A" train
To go to Sugar Hill, way up in Harlem
If you miss the "A" train
You'll find you missed the quickest way to Harlem

Take The A Train by Billy Strayhorn

Artists from this genre

Duke Ellington

Duke Ellington

The most significant composer in jazz history.

Cab Calloway

Cab Calloway

The Hi-De-Ho man.

Count Basie

Count Basie

Leader of the famous Count Basie Orchestra.

Ella Fitzgerald

Ella Fitzgerald

The First Lady of Song, Queen of Jazz, Lady Ella.

Mary Lou Williams

Mary Lou Williams

Boundary breaking jazz composer, arranger, and pianist.

MORE Genres from this era

Blues

Blues

Born in the Mississippi Delta.

Jazz

Jazz

Born in New Orleans with roots in ragtime and the blues.

Country & Folk

Country & Folk

Black musical tradition is a part of its core.

Gospel

Gospel

The progeny of spirituals and cousin to the blues.