Analyze a Big Band Recording
If a picture is worth a thousand words, how much can one say about 3 minutes of music?
For this assignment, you’re going to analyze a single piece recorded by a big band between the years 1930 and 1950. You may choose any major big band
from the swing era (pick one mentioned in our textbook, or slides that interests you).
It MUST be a big band. Be sure you know what that means. Hint: If the title says “Quartet” or “Hot 5’s” etc it’s not a big band. Big band is very specific. It’s not
just a large ensemble.
-It must be a big band era recording. This gets tricky as New Orleans style creeps into the starting of the era, as does bebop at the end. Be sure what you
select is in the style AND era of big band.
Song name, big band name and featured soloist(s), year recorded (format your selection like the “recommended listening” section of our textbook).
Form: is it a 12 bar blues? 32 bar AABA structure? Can you hear when each chorus or section begins? What is the meter? Tempo? Overall vibe or feel? Is it
more of a soloist feature, or ensemble feature?
Road map: make a bullet point list of the events that occur in the arrangement. Optional: you can organize this by bars (measures) or minutes/seconds into
Critique: Do you like this recording? Why or why not? How does it compare to other recordings from the same era? Or how does it compare to other
recordings by this particular big band?
If you have a youtube/spotify/itunes link to your specific recording, post a link to it. If you don’t, then upload an audio file to your post.
No duplicate assignment topics! If someone posts their analysis of a recording of a song, you may not analyze that same recording. Early bird gets the worm
on this one!
This assignments requires analytical listening and some research, but sources do not need to be cited. You should have to listen to the recording several
times to catch all the details – try to listen to a different instrument section or aspect of the recording with each listening.
Post your assignment as a forum thread. Read your classmates’ posts and enjoy some great music!