Swing Through Time



9 Questions

What is swing music?

Who were some of the jazz musicians of the swing era?

What is the Dixieland revival?

What is swing dancing?

What is gypsy swing?

What is electro swing?

What is the Swing Revival?

What is the difference between swing music and big band jazz?

What is the connection between swing music and swing dances?


The Style of Jazz Summary

  • Swing music is a popular style of jazz that emerged in the United States in the late 1920s and early 1930s and became nationally popular in the mid-1930s.

  • Swing music emphasizes the off-beat and features soloists who improvise on the melody over the arrangement.

  • Swing music dominated American popular music from 1935 to 1946, known as the swing era.

  • Jazz musicians of the swing era include Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, Count Basie, Cab Calloway, Jimmy Dorsey, Tommy Dorsey, Woody Herman, Harry James, Lionel Hampton, Glenn Miller, Artie Shaw, and Django Reinhardt.

  • The swing style evolved from dance music ensembles in the 1920s, which incorporated rhythmic innovations pioneered by Louis Armstrong, Coleman Hawkins, Benny Carter, and other jazzmen.

  • Swing blended with other genres to create new musical styles such as western swing, gypsy swing music, and new jack swing.

  • The growth of radio broadcasting and the recording industry in the 1920s allowed popular dance bands to gain national exposure.

  • Swing dancing originated in the late 1920s as the "Lindy Hop," and would later incorporate other styles such as The Suzie Q, Truckin', Peckin' Jive, The Big Apple, and The Shag in various combinations of moves.

  • Swing music met with some resistance because of its improvisation, tempo, occasionally risqué lyrics, and frenetic dancing.

  • Swing was sometimes regarded as light entertainment more than a form of art, among fans of both jazz and "serious" music.

  • Dixieland revival started in the late 1930s as a self-conscious re-creation of New Orleans jazz in reaction against the orchestrated style of big band swing.

  • Swing music had great commercial success for bands such as those led by Artie Shaw, Glenn Miller, and Tommy Dorsey, and middlebrow interpretations of swing led to commercial success.The Rise and Fall of Swing Music

  • Swing music emerged in the 1920s and by the early 1930s, swing bands were becoming more popular, and radio broadcasts helped to spread the music to a wider audience.

  • Swing music was dance music and was defined by a strong rhythm section, driving bass lines, and big horn sections.

  • During the 1930s, swing bands were led by popular bandleaders such as Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington, and Count Basie, and featured top soloists such as Coleman Hawkins and Lester Young.

  • Vocalists were becoming the star attractions of the big bands in the early 1940s, and some big bands were moving away from swing styles, for both commercial and creative reasons.

  • The trend away from big band swing was accelerated by wartime conditions and royalty conflicts, and the resources required to support big swing bands became problematic.

  • Big band jazz made a comeback in the 1950s and 1960s, with the Stan Kenton and Woody Herman bands maintaining their popularity.

  • Swingin' pop remained popular into the mid-1960s, becoming one current of the "easy listening" genre.

  • Gypsy swing is an outgrowth of the jazz violin swing of Joe Venuti and Eddie Lang, and was heard in the music of guitarist Django Reinhardt and violinist Stéphane Grappelli.

  • Swing music saw a revival in the 1970s, with the jazz, R&B, and swing revival vocal group Manhattan Transfer and Bette Midler included swing era hits on albums during the early 1970s.

  • A Swing Revival occurred during the 1990s and 2000s led by Royal Crown Revue, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, The Cherry Poppin' Daddies, Squirrel Nut Zippers, Lavay Smith, and Brian Setzer.

  • Another modern development consists of fusing swing with hip hop and house techniques, and electro swing is mainly popular in Europe.

  • Swing music is connected with a revival of swing dances, such as the Lindy hop.


Do you know your swing from your bebop? Test your knowledge with our quiz on the history and evolution of swing music. From the origins of swing in the 1920s to its revival in the 1990s, this quiz covers the major players, styles, and innovations that shaped this popular form of jazz. Whether you're a die-hard swing fan or just getting into the genre, this quiz will challenge and entertain you. So put on your dancing shoes and let's swing!

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