Big band

A big band is a type of musical ensemble that usually consists of ten or more musicians with four sections: saxophones, trumpets, trombones, and a rhythm section. Big bands originated during the early 1910s and dominated jazz through the 1940s, or roughly from World War I to World War II. The term "big band" is also used to describe a genre of music. One problem with this usage is that it overlooks the variety of music played by these bands.

Big bands started as accompaniment for dancing. In contrast with the emphasis on improvisation, big bands relied on written compositions and arrangements. They gave a greater role to bandleaders, arrangers, and sections of instruments rather than soloists.


Typical seating arrangement for a 17-piece big band

Big bands have four sections: trumpets, trombones, saxophones, and a rhythm section of guitar, piano, double bass, and drums. [1] [2] The division in early big bands was likely to be two or three trumpets, one or two trombones, three saxophones, and a rhythm section. [3] In 1930, big bands usually consisted of three trumpets, three trombones, three saxophones, and a rhythm section of four instruments. Guitar replaced the banjo, and double bass replaced the tuba. In the 1940s, Stan Kenton's band and Woody Herman's band used up to five trumpets, four trombones (three tenor, one bass trombone), five saxophones (two alto saxophones, two tenor saxophones, one baritone saxophone), and a rhythm section. An exception is Duke Ellington, who at one time used six trumpets. Boyd Raeburn drew from symphony orchestras by adding to his band flute, French horn, violin, and timpani. [3]

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