Learning Songs and Building an Individual Repertoire

in “Do You Know …?”

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print September 2009 | ISBN: 9780226239217
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226239224 | DOI:
Learning Songs and Building an Individual Repertoire

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Remember that the U.S. popular music industry published something like 300,000 popular songs between 1900 and 1950. Those songs, plus an unknown but probably sizeable number of jazz compositions, which were never “popular” but were and are known in the player community, plus the equally unknown (but also probably large) number of songs written since 1950, and a similarly unknown number of traditional and ethnic songs, constitute a reservoir out of which jazz and dance musicians construct a repertoire. The repertoire keeps changing as players meet and play together. This chapter focuses on sources used by musicians to learn songs and build an individual jazz repertoire, including lead sheets and fake books, recordings, and radio (through air shots or “remotes”). Two things especially important for this analysis happened in the era that began after World War II and culminated in the age of digital communication: the rise of television and FM radio, and the development of the Internet and new systems of distributing musical materials.

Keywords: songs; jazz repertoire; musicians; lead sheets; fake books; air shots; television; FM radio; Internet

Chapter.  10944 words. 

Subjects: American Music

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