Class Year


Document Type

Student Research Paper

Date of Creation

Spring 2016


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.