I ran into Glenn a few months ago while hanging out in Seattle and he’s a super interesting guy. He knows his music backwards, forwards, and upside down and he speaks passionately and eloquently about it.
When I first started dancing, I could dance long enough or hard enough. I would dance to anything just so I could keep moving and practice this new “thing” I found and needed. It was like I was starving constantly and it didn’t matter what nourished me. Now years later, I have been well feed and have developed a better palate for music. I’ve become more of a music snob and will no longer dance lindy hop to just anything. In fact, I really only want to lindy hop to swing music, not rock & roll, boogie woogie, soul, r&b, bluegrass, hip hop, etc. I will dance other forms of movement to them, but I won’t lindy hop to them.
When I wanted to progress past being an intermediate level dancer, I realized that the next step in dancing was to understand the music, and through this process I started to discover why it was that the really good dancers didn’t dance to certain songs or go out to hear certain bands. There’s a certain feeling in swing music that doesn’t exist in bop or jump blues or 50’s Basie or groovy jazz. It’s really hard to describe in a sentence, but when you discover it, you’ve got it forever and it’s one of the most exciting revelations that life has to offer (IMHO anyway).
Whenever I dance to or listen to a live band, I judge it with a critical ear – I pick apart what I’m hearing and judge what each player’s style is doing to add to or take away from the swing of the band. Over the next several days, I’m going to write about some of the things that I listen for in dance music. If you’re just learning to dance or are looking to step up to the next level, I hope this will help you in your quest as you search for the holy grail of “swing;” if you’re reading this and you’ve already discovered swing, I hope this will help you understand more about what you’re hearing so that when you do or don’t like a band, you’ll have a better idea of why.
#1 Rhythm of the Train
It’s really hard to find good rhythm players and I’ve been blessed to play with guys who really get the style. The goal of the rhythm section should be to form a really tight unit that, in a way, emulates the rhythm of a train. Here are a couple great examples. The first is Duke Ellington’s Orchestra from 1930 playing Old Man Blues:
Now THAT sounds like a train! Here’s a another example, this time from Count Basie’s Orchestra in 1938. Listen to how the Rhythm Section creates the drive and energy of a locomotive, even though they are less expressly trying to copy the exact sound of a train in this one.
Now let’s listen to Count Basie from 1959 to hear how the music changed away from being dance music.
The drums in this tune focus on the back beats like one TWO three FOUR, instead of that nice even chug-chug-chug-chug from the 1930’s, and the extended drum solo at the end just doesn’t swing at all, and there are many other places where the whole band syncopates together, breaking the steady 4 rhythm. The focuses of this tune are the crazy ensemble riffs and Lockjaw Davis’s solo. The ensemble riffs now float overtop of the rhythm instead of being a PART of the rhythm like in the last Basie tune.
Now let’s try some more Ellington and we’ll hear that even the infamous “Take the A-Train” didn’t sound much like a train anymore by the 1960’s.
You can hear that the 1930’s music has that chugga chugga sound like a train, while the later music is more about the horns. This is, in my opinion, due to the fact that American culture changed from a railroad driven culture in the 1930’s to an automobile driven culture after WW2.
Let’s listen to a couple modern examples.
First, something that doesn’t swing!
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not calling it bad music – I think Diana Krall and her musicians are fantastic players. I am however calling it indisputably NOT swing music.
Let’s close out with something that DOES swing. Here’s my buddy Jonathan Stout’s big band from LA. Note how Jon on guitar and Josh on drums create that locomotive rhythm. (check out Jonathan’s blog here: HERE)
I hope this gets you started thinking about what makes music swing!!
Ladies, ladies, ladies! This might be one of my favorite videos! Well…..let me be specific. I love what the end product looks like and how quickly she whips through how she does what she does. I don’t like that the music is so loud and frantic, but thank goodness for my mute button!
Now I need to find a snood! Have a gorgeous Friday!!!
This is primarily what I do with my hair when I am trying to curl it. It’s easy to do and easy to sleep in. Typically I’ll keep my hair in pin curls for two days and then when I take them out I have big, bouncy hair. Take a look at my banner (top of website); that’s what my hair can look like when I do this to my hair. Haha, if you wear your hair in pin curls for a couple of days, make sure you have a scarf or something to wrap your head in….you’ll look pretty funny if you don’t.
Heheh, funny side story. I wore my cover up for a few days and finally when I took my hair out, a number of people didn’t believe that my curly hair was real. Eeesh, in fact, I think some of thought I had lost my hair…..er….different story. ANY who…
OMG, so much talky-talky! I jumped ahead to 1:54 which is where the tutorial really starts. You can either have damp hair or dry hair (which you’ll need to use product) to do this style. If you’re short on time, just to 5:00 and take it from there.
Picture of my hair after I pin curl it:
When you pin curl your hair, do you do it this way or with a curling iron?
Thank goodness for Fleur! She has a fabulous website where she shares her vintage knowledge and provides lots of authentic vintage & retro fashion inspiration, plus styling tips, recipes, events and other fab things.
Here’s what she has to say about her video:
“My second ever vintage hair tutorial, this time it’s 40s style faux / bumper bangs! Not quite as big as Dita von Teese’s (or her icon Carmen Miranda) but better for those not quite as brave! It could also work for a 50s, Bettie Page style look and it’s a perfect pinup girl style. Look out for the comedy fumble at the beginning!”
I love that she calls bobby pins “curvy grips.” Oh those English, they are so charming!
I think I’ll be spending some time on this one. I’d really like to be a master of the rat tail (hehehe). I dig the look! More on this later!!
1940’s Makeup Film – Face contouring / Lipstick and Hairlines
Archive Tutorial Film presented by Miss Ratherly Stern.
The ideal facial contour is supposed to be the oval.
But some of us have round faces,square faces or long faces.
What can we do to make our faces appear more oval ?
Don’t wear too high a neck line. It shortens the neck and increases the effect of roundness!
Hair well off the forehead and flat against the temple !
Thin lipsticks, correctly applied to follow the natural mouthline !
A V neck completes the picture and gives the impression of a little more neck length
to give the impression of an oval face!
Keep away from haircuts that hang in vertical lines near the side of the face and jawline in.This over emphasizes the squareness of the jaw.Avoid straight horizontal lines near the face – like thin lips / round or high horizontal necks.
Fill out the lower lip with your lipstick.
Hair should fall in curves around the jawline.
Wear a V neck line to pull the attention down from jaw.
Pure logic when you think about it.
3.The Long / Narrow Face.
Don’t wear V necks – This adds to the impression of length.
Avoid Piled up high hair on top of head as this also adds to the length of the face.
Hair should be off the top if the head and fluffed out at the sides to give the thin face added width.Finally a high neck line or choke distracts from the long neck ! Voila !
A wonderful vintage makeup tutorial from the 1940’s.
Courtesy of the Prelinger Archive!