Brief biography of Duke Ellington and uniqueness of his music Essay

Brief biography of Duke Ellington and uniqueness of his music, 486 words essay example

Essay Topic:biography,music

Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington was one of America's most prolific composers. He led and played piano for one of the century's most successful jazz orchestra. Although he excelled in big band jazz arrangements, He composed in a variety of forms including large scale abstract instrumental works as well as songs, night production numbers, and dance tunes. Duke Ellington's music is known for linking images and sound. He often referred to many of his compositions as "portraits or tone parallels". Duke received his first piano lesson at the age of seven, and he wrote his first composition, "Soda Fountain Rag," when he was fourteen. His interest in music was ignited in high school by the virtuoso techniques and sound of ragtime. By the time he turned the age of seventeen he was a professional pianist and had earned the nickname "Duke". He formed a band called the "Duke's Serenaders" in his hometown of Washington, DC after he graduated from high school, an earned a reputation as an up-and-coming young musician in the new style of music called "jazz."
Before electronic music or the emergence of recording "production", early on Duke had showed his genius for technologically enabling sound synthesis. He saw that the new mechanism for recording and amplification could augment coloristic exploration. He used this new idea when recording " Mood Indigo " which was written on October 17,1930, but was written especially for microphonic transmission of a radio broadcast. From 1931 to 1971 when the Pittsburgh courier declared him "king of jazz" he became the first jazz musician invited to join the Swedish Royal Academy of Music in Stockholm. Ellington served as the reference point for the 20th century American jazz and has remained a prominent composer of the genre.
The popularity of swing music in the 1930s is credited to Ellington's orchestra, with that genre's name attributed to Ellington's 1932 "It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)". National audiences heard Ellington's swing bands broadcast from The Cotton Club on the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) and National Broadcast Corporation (NBC) radio networks. In February 1937, Ellington played for President Franklin D. Roosevelt's birthday ball, also broadcast on radio. In 1938 Ellington melodies provided themes for 37 different radio programs. Of the 50 million records sold in 1939, an estimated 17 million more than one-third were swing.
As a composer, Ellington emphasized solo parts, and the style of his works often reflected the personality or style of the soloist for whom he was writing. A self-taught pianist and protg of stride pianist James P. Johnson, he composed at the piano, alone, or with his players in group improvisation, transcribing music after the fact. Ellington borrowed heavily and knowledgeably from African American blues and Afro-Caribbean musical traditions. Early blues-based pieces such as "Black and Tan Fantasy" and "East St. Louis Toddle-O" (both 1927) remained part of the band's repertoire throughout the decades, as did his 1937 "Caravan," which paved the way for Cuban jazz of the 1940s.

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