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It is alleged that according to an interview the legendary Charlie Parker gave sometime in the 1950s, that one night in 1939 he was playing “Cherokee” in a jam session with guitarist William ‘Biddy’ Fleet when he hit upon a method for developing his solos that enabled him to play what he had been hearing in his head for some time, by connecting harmony using the diminished relationship of dominants.  Parker at this time also realized that the twelve tones of the chromatic scale can lead melodically to any key, breaking some of the confines of simpler jazz soloing.

As a result Charlie Parker’s innovative approaches to melody, rhythm, and harmony exercised enormous influence on his contemporaries.  At first many didn’t like it, or him much at all.  They even tried to ridicule him, his way of playing as well as all who embraced and continued with this new, crazy idea.

These days the ‘mixit’/text/short message system (possibly as a natural follow-on from street music forms like Rap) is presenting a similar challenge to language as we know it?  Meanings of words and expressions, idioms and the like, and in many instances meaning itself is being challenged and the so-called ‘purists’ are not at all really happy.

Many are scrambling to maintain the ‘purity’ of a language which is changing all the time anyway.

Is it possible that language, (English especially as the dominant force in global communication these days) is experiencing a “Be Bop” period? Like Be Bop, is mixit/text(sms) ‘language’ breaking some of the confines of simpler communication linguistic forms and patterns?

Is there a lesson for us in this? … and might this be applicable to other forms of cultural communication?  Politics?  Religion?  Economics?  Community?

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One Comment

  1. Interesting point but my argument would be quite different, that in bebop (we had) signs and symbols let loose to play freely while in sms / mixit the running is in the opposite direction; bebop exploded meaning and signification whereas sms / mixit conventions pull a noose over meaning, ever tightening… lol

    I think the most frustrating aspect of all the abbreviations and suggestive texting is precisely the lack of nuance, ambivalence, multiple meanings, and let us also not shy away from the content of said text messages, what is it that is really being expressed in these new text forums most if not all of the time? Not too much of profound value is there to be found, just spend five minutes on mixit to see what it being discussed for yourself.

    More like bubblegum pop than bebop imo.


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