Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Patrick, James. "Charlie Parker and the Harmonic Sources of Bebop Composition: Thoughts on the Repertory of New Jazz in the 1940s." Journal of Jazz Studies 2 (1975): 3-23.

In bebop music, especially that of Charlie Parker, new compositions were created by composing new melodies to pre-existing chord progressions and forms. By analogy to contrafactum (the practice of fitting a new text to a pre-existing melody), which dates from the Middle Ages or earlier, this technique is called "melodic contrafact." The two most common songs or forms that provided the harmonic and formal material for contrafacts were George Gershwin's I Got Rhythm and the twelve bar blues. Many bebop contrafacts, like Parker's Ornithology,Perhaps, and Cool Blues, employed previously used improvisational "riffs" (short melodic-rhythmic passages). Pragmatic applications of the jazz contrafact include the "jam session," wherein musicians who did not regularly perform together would congregate and improvise on these familiar chord progressions, and recording sessions in which there was a very limited amount of time to record unrehearsed material. In addition, recording companies could avoid paying royalties to the composer of the source song because the chords of a song were not protected by copyright laws. Contrafacts and their harmonic innovations were an outgrowth of bebop ideology, which was characterized by Afro-centrism and emphasis on virtuosity.

Works: Bechet: Shag (3); Parker: Dexterity (3, 13), Ornithology (4, 17), Scrapple From the Apple (4, 13, 19), Now's the Time (4), Relaxin' at Camarillo (4), Klactoveedsedstene (4, 13), Billie's Bounce (4), The Jumpin' Blues (7), Perhaps (7-8), Cool Blues (8, 19); Gillespie: Dizzy Atmosphere (8), Salt Peanuts (9-10); Ellington: Cotton Tail (9); Sampson: Don't Be That Way (9), Carter: Pom Pom (10); Parker: Red Cross (12), Tiny's Tempo (12), Bongo Bop (13-14), Dewey Square (13), The Hymn (13), Bird of Paradise (13), Bird Feathers (13), Quasimodo (14-15), Parker/Gillespie: Moose the Mooche (17, 18), Yardbird Suite (17); Parker: Klaun Stance (18).

Sources: Gershwin: I Got Rhythm (3, 5, 8-13, 17); Kern: All the Things You Are (13, 18); Gershwin: Embraceable You (15); Kern: The Way You Look Tonight (18).

Index Classifications: 1900s, Jazz

Contributed by: Scott Grieb, Eytan Uslan

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Musical Borrowing and Reworking - - 2024
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