“Fixing up” tunes

Todd Decker

in Music Makes Me

Published by University of California Press

Published in print June 2011 | ISBN: 9780520268883
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520950061 | DOI:
“Fixing up” tunes

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Writing and music department staffs at the Hollywood studios did not normally mix. Fred Astaire worked closely with the musicians, and this chapter focuses on their specialized task of making musical numbers. Synchronized sound films confronted studio music departments with a diverse set of creative and technical tasks demanding a division of responsibilities. Musicals, the most expensive of studio genres, made extra demands on the music department and brought added players into the process. Songwriters—seldom professional musicians competent in the ways of the music departments—took the place of the composer for the musical numbers and required extra care. Arrangers and orchestrators are key creative figures in popular music history. Beyond the concert works of Duke Ellington, big bands and arranging as a jazz discipline disappear from most innovation-oriented jazz histories with the war-time rise of bebop, which has been presented consistently as a small-group improvisation-centered music.

Keywords: Fred Astaire; Hollywood; musicians; music departments; musicals; songwriters; popular music; arrangers; big bands; bebop

Chapter.  15757 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: American Music

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