Monday 10 November 2014

"Just a little impromptu thing"

Scat singing, a "vocal improvisation with wordless vocables, nonsense syllables or without words at all" that puts emphasis on rhythm rather than melody is a most difficult technique that requires highly developed skills and humour (via). With her vocal range spanning over three octaves, Ella Fitzgerald had both. Her first scat song was "Flying Home" (1945) which was a very symbolic title and referred to World War II. "Like much African American music, 'Flying Home' spoke differently to black and white audiences. Even as the song signalled the end of a conflict for most white veterans, their black counterparts knew that for them, a new battle was just beginning." 

Since the era of the Harlem Renaissance, African American's musical styles were commercialised by white musicians, club owners, or executives of record companies while black musicians "never got their share". Scat, in this context, could be seen as a reaction, as a statement to these conditions. "Tired of the lyrics that were given by the white music industry, scat singing might have been an ironical reaction to the many shallow swing songs that had been produced over the last decade. The art of scat singing in this context also bears resemblance to the artistic movement known as Dadaism" (Demetriou, 2008).

"I do not believe there's such a thing as a jazz singer." "Every pop singer is influenced a little by jazz, because it's our native folk art."
Mel Tormé

Ella Jane Fitzgerald (1917-1996), "Lady Ella", "Queen of Jazz" or the "First Lady of Song" explains jazz together with Melvin Howard Tormé (1925-1999), also known as "The Velvet Fog":

::: Here the most(!) wonderful introduction in jazz: WATCH/LISTEN/ENJOY

More scatting Ella:
::: One Note Samba (1969) watch
::: One Note Samba with Joe Pass (1975) watch

- Demetriou, R. (2008). Programmatic Presentations in the Songs of African American Female Singers. Norderstedt: GRIN
- photographs of Ella Fitzgerald via and via and via