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Learn About Swing Music for Weddings

Live swing orchestras have become increasingly popular for wedding ceremonies and receptions in the last few years. This is due in part to the fact that many brides envision a wedding day with a touch of Old Hollywood class. Without a doubt, the best compliment to a vintage wedding is live swing music.

Dancers Waiting for Swing Orchestra

Swing music was the most popular form of music from the mid-1930′s until well after the American involvement in World War II. It also experienced a revival in the late-1990′s with bands like the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies, the Squirrel Nut Zippers and the Brian Setzer Orchestra. This was due, in part, to films such as Swing Kids and Swingers.

Although swing music may not be as popular as it once was in mainstream culture, it is still an excellent choice for wedding ceremonies, receptions and other events which require timeless, fun and exciting music. In fact, one of the best parts about having swing music at an event is the fact that classic swing songs can be played alongside swing revival music, allowing for the enjoyment of both younger and older audience members.

Couple in 1940's swing dancing In order to fully enjoy swing music, it is essential to understand a little of its history and the composition of swing orchestras.

Swing music evolved as an offshoot of jazz music from New Orleans, Kansas City and New York City in the early 1930′s. Swing music did not become widely popular until August 1935, when Benny Goodman appeared at the Palomar Ballroom. The dancers at the ballroom greatly enjoyed Goodman’s innovative rhythm and swing arrangements. After this point, swing music became more mainstream and more bands began to play it.

Popular bandleaders of this time included Artie Shaw, Benny Goodman, Buddy Rich, Cab Calloway, Count Basie, Chick Webb, The Dorsey Brothers, Duke Ellington, Earl Hines, Fletcher Henderson, Gene Krupa, Glenn Miller, Gloria Parker, Harry James, Louis Prima, Leo Mathisen and Shep Fields.

Chart-topping swing tunes of this era include:

  • “Begin the Beguine” by Cole Porter
  • “Body and Soul” by Coleman Hawkins
  • “Cherokee” by Charlie Barnet
  • “Daddy From Georgia Way” by Bob Chester
  • “Here Comes That Mood” by Vincent Lopez
  • “I Can’t Get Started” by Bunny Berigan
  • “In Santiago by the Sea” by Vincent Lopez
  • “In the Mood” by Glenn Miller
  • “It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)” by Duke Ellington
  • “Jersey Bounce” by Benny Goodman
  • “Jumpin’ at the Woodside” by Count Basie
  • “Sing, Sing, Sing” by Louis Prima
  • “Song of India” by Tommy Dorsey
  • “Stardust”, by Louis Armstrong / Glenn Miller / Artie Shaw
  • “Tonight Be Tender To Me” by Una Mae Carlisle
  • “Tuxedo Junction” by Glenn Miller
  • “White Christmas” by Bring Crosby
  • “Mack the Knife” by Louis Armstrong
  • “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” by the Andrews Sisters

Typically, swing music of the mid-1930′s featured a strong, anchoring rhythm section which supported loosely tied wind and brass instruments. Closer to the 1940s, string or vocals sections were added. Eventually, swing’s popularity was eclipsed by the pop singers and crooners. Many of the popular singers who came about in this time originated in the swing era. For example, the Dorsey Brothers launched the career of Frank Sinatra. Swing’s popularity waned as World War II progressed, due to the fact many of the musicians were overseas fighting the war and the economic hardship of funding and touring with such large bands during wartime.

Fortunately for this lively, fun style of music, a revival was seen in the late-1990′s. From 1997 to 2001, the swing revival was led by bands like the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies, the Squirrel Nut Zippers, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, the Royal Crown Revue and the Brian Setzer Orchestra, among others. Swing dancing was also revived and combined the 1930′s dance styles with those from the 1990′s and 2000′s. In 2001, British pop singer Robbie Williams released a popular swing cover album entitled, “Swing When You’re Winning”, which sold 7 million copies worldwide.

1930's Teens Dancing to Swing Music

Swing orchestras typically feature the clarinet, saxophone, trumpet, trombone, piano, double bass and drums, among other instruments. Swing music features a lead section typically composed of brass instruments like trumpets and trombones which is supported by a strong rhythm section. Swing often has medium to fast tempos and a “lilting” swing time rhythm. Swing bands typically feature soloists who improvise a new melody over an existing arrangement.

A Swing Band Performs

Modern Swing Dancers Today, Swing dancing is a popular activity for those who are looking to have fun and burn off some steam!

If you’re convinced that a live swing orchestra is the perfect touch for your wedding, ceremony, reception or other special event, contact us today to hire The Whole of the Moon Swing Orchestra!

( Posted on Tuesday, December 2, 2008 at 7:15 pm )

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Sparrow Lane definitely gave Gus and Gabby's wedding the classy touch they were going for; everyone absolutely loved them! I'd like to thank you SO very much for all the help, patience and over excellent customer service you provided my brother, Gabby and myself -- it is definitely appreciated! I will definitely keep you in mind for any future events we may have. Thanks again!”

—Mayra M., sister of the groom, married October 28, 2011, Calamigos Ranch

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