Class Year


Document Type

Student Research Paper

Date of Creation

Spring 2016

Department 1

Conservatory of Music


Following the sweet, pleasant Swing era style music of the 1930’s, Bebop emerged within the United States as an aggressive, percussive, musician-focused style in the 1940’s. However, Bebop’s creation was not spontaneous. Its composers, John Birks Gillespie, Charlie Parker, and Thelonious Monk, wrote for the sake of the music itself as a form of self-expression, not as entertainment for an audience. Bebop’s dissonant sound expressed political and cultural frustrations, stemming from World War II and similarly shown in the early Civil Rights Movement. I will argue that not only did Bebop develop out of such conflicts, but in a reciprocal manner it shaped society, giving legitimacy to black musicians’ technical abilities in a white-dominated music industry.


This paper was written for Professor John Jones' course, MUS 110: Jazz: The Evolution of America's Music, Spring 2016.