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IB Musical Investigation Web Site
The Purpose


The Origins
The Purpose
Musical Structure and Style
References and other Links

Bebop quashed the function of jazz as a dancing music. It became more of an art form and diminished popular and commercial success in doing so. Played usually to small club crowds, it was more about the expression of the individual through improvisation rather than entertainment for the spectators. In fact spectators would have little to see for amusement and instead would have to be dedicated listeners. The improvised solo was insight into the player's soul and like Opera, the purpose was to tell your story.

Some musicians viewed Bebop as a way of protesting the racial discrimination towards African-Americans. For others though, including Dizzy Gillespie, it was a technical innovation rather than a rally against social injustice. Dizzy Gillespie was one of the few Bebop musicians to carry on the onstage antics in order to visually entertain the audience (or perhaps just for his own pleasure), something made famous by Louis Armstrong years before. Many Bebop artists disapproved of this though hoping to distance themselves from that traditional manner. They believed by acting the clown just to please white people, they were furthering black stereotypes. Bebop was a rebellious move away from that attitude.

An opera is a drama set to music. It is in a way an ultimate art form requiring not just singing and music, but sets, costumes, lighting and acting among others. The opera is a theatrical performance where the visual appearance is just as important as the music. There must be a delicate balance between the two for the purpose of both is to enhance the story and attach to it a beauty and splendor. The opera's goal is to rouse passion within the audience. Bebop also does this for a certain audience, but this is not its main goal. The opera conveys a story to the audience while Bebop is the individual musician's instantaneous expression where the listener is invited to understand and feel what the musician is saying as long as he can keep up. Having said that, an opera does also come from the composer's heart. Beethoven's Fidelio is about a person struggling to break free of the chains of tyranny and oppression just as Beethoven himself struggled against the grievance that was his deafness.

Opera is multi-faceted and can elicit many a reaction within an audience. It is driven by heavy and complex emotions that are absent in Bebop such as love, anger, lust, greed and envy.