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Music Makes MeFred Astaire and Jazz$
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Todd Decker

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780520268883

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520268883.001.0001

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“Fixing up” tunes

“Fixing up” tunes

(p.128) Chapter 5 “Fixing up” tunes
Music Makes Me

Todd Decker

University of California Press

Writing and music department staffs at the Hollywood studios did not normally mix. Fred Astaire worked closely with the musicians, and this chapter focuses on their specialized task of making musical numbers. Synchronized sound films confronted studio music departments with a diverse set of creative and technical tasks demanding a division of responsibilities. Musicals, the most expensive of studio genres, made extra demands on the music department and brought added players into the process. Songwriters—seldom professional musicians competent in the ways of the music departments—took the place of the composer for the musical numbers and required extra care. Arrangers and orchestrators are key creative figures in popular music history. Beyond the concert works of Duke Ellington, big bands and arranging as a jazz discipline disappear from most innovation-oriented jazz histories with the war-time rise of bebop, which has been presented consistently as a small-group improvisation-centered music.

Keywords:   Fred Astaire, Hollywood, musicians, music departments, musicals, songwriters, popular music, arrangers, big bands, bebop

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