What Is Big Band Swing And The Artists Who Made It Popular

Big Band was a type of music that started in the United States and included percussion, woodwind and brass instruments. It also included at least 12 musicians, and sometimes up to 25 artists. This musical genre is typically associated with both the Swing and Jazz musical era and was most popular in the 1930s to the 1960s.


Typical instruments during those days included a 17-piece instrumentation, which was considered standard in those days. Typically, there were five saxophones, including one baritone, two tenors and two altos. Also included were four trombones, four trumpets and four-piece rhythm sections. The rhythm section usually included a guitar, piano, drums and either an electric or acoustic bass.

However, there were many times where variations of the instrumentation were used, especially when there weren’t enough musicians available to play the parts. Typical changes included French horns, bass clarinet, strings, banjo, tuba, accordion, along with female and male vocalists.

Other modern variations included electric instruments, such as electronic keyboards and synthesizers, which typically replace the piano in a traditional instrumentation, though flutes, soprano sax and the flugelhorn.


Typical musicians that played this type of music included Paul Whiteman, Leo Reisman, Harry Reser, Ted Lewis and George Olsen. Others included Nat Shilkret, Bob Haring, Gus Arnheim, Vincent Lopez and Fred Waring, among many others. All-girl bands were also popular.

However, most bands were considered commercial, as they employed jazz singers in the front ranks to add the jazzy feel to the Swingers era.

End Of An Era

An era is considered an extended period, which can be anywhere from 10 years on up. Eras can include different periods of time, like the Paleozoic or Mesozoic era, but most people consider an age to mark a particular passage of time, such as jazz, Big-Band and other times, including the fashion era of grunge.

Typically the Big Band Swing era started to fall right before World War II, mainly because it was too costly to pay all of the musicians. Economics aside, most of the artists who were in the large bands were drafted into the war, meaning they couldn’t stay and play their gigs. The recording ban of 1942 also made it difficult to produce music, and the era just faded away.

Big Band Swing artists are most famous for their upbeat music and including over two dozen musicians in the ensemble. Sylvia Brooks’ website is the place to go to learn about jazz and so much more, so visit today.


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