Classic Bebop

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English: Created by Hyacinth (talk) using Sibelius 5. See: :File:Bebop dominant scale on C.mid (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Era

Bebop is so much a part of the jazz vocabulary today that it's hard to image why the music was so controversial when it was introduced in the mid-1940s. Most of the innovations in jazz seem a natural outgrowth of what had been played before, but bebop was nothing short of a revolution-both musically and culturally.

Swing era bands were big bands, with riff-based melodic tunes and limited time for soloing. The arrangement was as important as the tune, and there was relatively little room for harmonic experimentation, since the music was primarily for entertainment and dancing. The beboppers found this too confining and were seeking new avenues of artistic expression.

The architects of bebop were almost all African Americans who largely came out of the black big bands, meeting in clubs after hours to jam, and to explore new musical ideas. These were exciting times of big musical breakthrough! Bebop was played predominantly by small groups, with plenty of room for the innovative improvisor. Charlie Parker (known as "Bird") was one of the most gifted of all improvisors, and he became an icon to many in the jazz community. Dizzy Gillespie was the master theoretician and teacher, as well as a brilliant trumpeter. Thelonius Monk, who was the house pianist at a club in Harlem called Minton's, was another key figure, but his style is so unique that it really defies categorization. Bud Powell was the quintessential bebop pianist.

Bebop polarized the jazz community, with many 'traditional' players pitted against the so-called 'modernists.' To the old guard, bebop was not as melodic, the improvisations were harder to follow, and it was hard to dance to. But bop musicians felt that their music was an art form, and that their primary responsibility was to the music itself. History has proved them right, because bebop has been the foundation of jazz for the past half century, and many of the bebop pioneers became senior citizens enjoying worldwide acclaim.

The Musical Innovations

1. Composition- What made bebop sound so radical at the time? First, the melodic lines were quite different. Gone were the solos that stayed close to the melody that were so prevalent in the swing era. the swing era tunes often featured complex arrangements, but the bebop musicians largely did away with them, opting instead for extended improvisations based on the chord changes. The melody was stated at the beginning of the tune, but then it would be lost in the complex harmonic possibilities offered by the chord structures of the music.

Some bebop musicians would write whole new tunes based on the chord changes of standards, or pop tunes of the day. These contrafacts, as they are called, include Bird's "Donna Lee," based on the standard tune "Indiana," "Ornithology," based on "How High The Moon," and Thelonius Monk's "Evidence," based on "Just You, Just Me."

2. The Rhythm Section -  Some of the most radical innovations of the bebop era were rhythmic. The bebop drummer moved the time-keeping duties from the bass drum to the hi-hat and played in a more polyrhythmic style, with asymmetric accents that were called "bombs." The approach was developed by the two master bebop drummers, Kenny Clarke and Max Roach, and their new concepts have forever altered jazz drumming. The bass player became the main keeper of the quarter note pulse, with virtually all classic bebop tunes played in 4/4. The pianist's role gradually became one of pushing the soloist to new heights, in addition to outlining the chord progressions.

3. Harmonic Advances - Bob players liked to improvise on difficult chord progressions, at breakneck tempos, with bursts of eighth and sixteenth notes. They also altered existing chords, frequently utilizing the lowered, or flatted, fifth, and other more dissonant notes against the basic harmony. Bird was quoted as having said that he came up with bebop one night as he was playing a solo on the tune "Cherokee" and found himself using just the upper extensions(9ths, 11ths, and 13ths) of the original chord changes. The end result of all this stretching of previous limits was that the music sounded too abstract and jagged to some, but gorgeous and artistic to others.

Today, the advances of bebop are standard practice throughout the jazz world, but people still scratch their head in amazement when they hear Bird at the peak of his form, swirling out chorus after chorus of genius  improvising. -- Reprinted courtesy of Sher Music and Criterion Music.

If you are interested:

Anyone who is  a jazz lover and wants to deepen their understanding of chords, scales, licks, and soloing techniques, visit Jazz 201

Best to All,

"Jazz washes away the dust of every day life." -- Art Blakey
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Monday Music Quote: Rex Harrison

"Exhilaration is that feeling you get just after a great idea hits you, and just before you realize what's wrong with it. " Rex Harrison

"I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face" is a song from the 1956 musical My Fair Lady, with music by Frederick Loewe and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner. It was originally performed by Rex Harrison as Professor Henry Higgins. He also performed in the 1964 film version. For more information,

Rex's voice is kind of sing-talk. I chose this song because I have a few piano students who are performing in our local theater. The lyrics and guitar chords can be found here. If you're looking for Billy Eckstine's arrangement, visit

I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face

G     Am7  G7    C               C9   C  G/B  Am7  
I've grown ac - customed to her face, 

    Cdim    Dm7            G7   Dm7   G7
She almost makes my day begin,

     Edim     F              Em       Gdim                Dm7
I've grown accustomed to the tune she whistles night and noon,

     F           Em         Dm7       G
Her smiles, her frowns, her ups, her downs

   Edim     C           C9   C  G/B  Am7  
Are second nature to me now, 

     Cdim      Dm7               G7   Dm7   G7
Like breathing out and breathing in,

             F       Dm7      Cdim        B7      C     Em7     A
I was ser - ene - ly in - de - pen - dent and content before we met

Dm7    F       G7    Bm7-5     E7    Fdim    Fm 
Surely I could always  be that way again and yet,

     Fdim       D7                Fm
I've grown ac - cus - tomed to her looks, 

      C          Em7    Gdim        Dm7    Am7 D7/9 G7   C
Ac - cus - tomed to her voice, ac - cus - tomed to  her face.

G     Am7  G7    C               C9   C  G/B  Am7  
I've grown ac - customed to her face,  

   Cdim        Dm7            G7   Dm7   G7
She al - most makes the day begin,

     Edim     F              Em        Gdim           Dm7
I've gotten used to hear her say "Good Morning" every day,

     F        Em         Dm7        G
Her joys, her woes, her highs, her lows

   Edim     C           C9   C  G/B  Am7  
Are second nature to me now, 

     Cdim      Dm7               G7   Dm7   G7
Like breathing out and breathing in,

          F       Dm7      Cdim  B7      C   Em7    A
I'm very grateful she's a woman, and so easy to forget

Dm7    F       G7   Bm7-5     E7    Fdim      Fm 
Rather like a habit  one can always break and yet

     Fdim       D7                  Fm
I've grown ac - cus - tomed to the trace 

    C        Em7   Gdim       Dm7    Am7 D7/9 G7   C
Of something in the air, ac - cus - tomed to  her face. 

I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face

Here's what I'm playing.

                 E9             Ebmaj9
I've grown ac - customed to her face, 

Eb6        Fm7            Bb7   Ebmaj7
She almost makes my day begin,

Eb6          Ab6             Ebdim     Eb         
I've grown accustomed to the tune she whistles night and noon,

     Ab          Gdim       Fm7       Bb9
Her smiles, her frowns, her ups, her downs

            Eb          Ebmaj7 
Are second nature to me now, 

Eb6            Fm7               Bb7  Ebmaj7
Like breathing out and breathing in,

Eb6         Ab6           D7                    Eb              C7+5
I was ser - ene - ly in - de - pen - dent and content before we met

Fm7             Bb7            G+            C7+5
Surely I could always  be that way again and yet,

                F9                       Abm
I've grown ac - cus - tomed to her looks, 

      Eb                Gm7         Fm7    Am7      Bb9 Eb
Ac - cus - tomed to her voice, ac - cus - tomed to  her face.

Chord Breakdown
Eb = EbBbG/Bb 
Ebmaj7 = Bb/GBbBF
Eb6 = Bb/GBbC
Fm7 = F/AbEbBb
Bb7 = Bb/AbDAb
Ab6 = AbF/EbAbD 
Ebdim = AF#/EbF#A
Ab = Aba/CEbAb
Gdim = G/BbDbE
Fm7 = F/CEbAb
Bb9 = Bb/AbCDF
D7 = AF#/DF#Bb
C7+5 = CBb/EAbC
G+ = GF/BEbAb
F9 = FEb/AEbG
Abm = Ab/CbF
Gm7 = G/BbDF
Eb = EbBb/GBbCEb 

Diana Krall has performed the song from My Fair Lady. Here's a former post I wrote, Diana Krall Does It Again.

Now suppose you want to learn this song, sing along and play it in a different key. You'll want to learn how to play in all 12 keys with Instant Transposer.

"Jazz washes away the dust of every day life." -- Art Blakey

Latin Music: A Primer

 "The more you immerse yourself in this world the more you will know that good rhythm is the key." -- Rebeca Mauleon

I came across this excerpt from the introduction to The Latin Real Easy Book, published by Sher Music Co. from one of my Jazz magazines. I thought of you and hope you find it interesting.

"Anyone who loves music, studies it and plays it for a living knows there are no shortcuts to learn. Only life-long commitment and lots of practice to get better. If you are new to Latin music, you probably have already discovered that there are a number of differences when it comes down to how this music is "felt" as well as played.

Photo Credit: xandert

THE BASS - First of all, bass players need to feel comfortable with the idea that, in Cuban-based rhythms, the foundation is mostly syncopated, unlike the typical walking bass feel in jazz. Most of the rhythm section in Cuban music - and therefore in salsa and Latin jazz - puts the main accents of their respective patterns on beats 2+ and 4 (what we often refer to as the tumbao for the bass and the montuno for the piano).

Photo Credit: xandert
THE PERCUSSION SECTION - The percussion instruments are an entire world unto themselves, with many styles often containing very subtle differences within the individual rhythm patterns. So the musician really needs to have a solid command of Cuban rhythms such as guaracha, mambo, cha-cha-cha, guajira, bolero, son, son-montuno and so on. Within the Salsa and Latin jazz family of rhythms there are also Puerto Rican styles (cumbia and vallenato) and so many others. brazilian music itself contains a seemingly number of regional styles - from samba and bossa nova to partido alto, forro, coco, maracatu, baiao, chorinho and more. And often what distinguishes all of these rhythms can be as subtle as what one particular drum pattern is doing. Really, every musician interpreting this music should have a reasonable understanding of these rhythms - whether they play percussion or not!

Photo Credit: clarita

THE IMPORTANCE OF CLAVE - As most of you may also know, Cuban-based music relies on the concept of the clave to serve as an anchor, not only for how all the rhythm patterns are "stacked up," so to speak, but also how the arrangement is structured. In many of the tunes in this book, you will sometimes notice that the clave direction is specified several times within the song; this is because there are moments in an arrangement where an odd number of measures in a phrase will naturally "shift" the clave's direction beginning on the next musical phrase. This idea of "three-two" versus "two-three" has its roots in the West African music that is the foundation for most of the music in the Carribean and Latin America, and it stems from the principle role of how rhythm literally shapes the melody. Until you understand what you are hearing when these clave changes occur, you'll be missing a big piece of the puzzle. More information is available in the author's book.

The Salsa Guidebook

Hear and Play offers a valuable music resource that you might be interested in. It's called Salsa Piano101

All the best,

"Jazz washes away the dust of every day life." -- Art Blakey
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