I Got Rhythm

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"I Got Rhythm"
Song
Published1930
Composer(s) George Gershwin
Lyricist(s) Ira Gershwin

"I Got Rhythm" is a piece composed by George Gershwin with lyrics by Ira Gershwin and published in 1930, which became a jazz standard. Its chord progression, known as the "rhythm changes", is the foundation for many other popular jazz tunes such as Charlie Parker's and Dizzy Gillespie's bebop standard "Anthropology (Thrivin' on a Riff)".

Contents

Composition

The song came from the musical Girl Crazy , which also includes two other hit songs, "Embraceable You" and "But Not for Me", and has been sung by many jazz singers since. It was originally written as a slow song for Treasure Girl (1928) and found another, faster setting in Girl Crazy. Ethel Merman sang the song in the original Broadway production and Broadway lore holds that George Gershwin, after seeing her opening reviews, warned her never to take a singing lesson.

The four-note opening riff bears a striking resemblance to the opening melody of the third movement of William Grant Still's Symphony No. 1, "Afro-American." In the 1920s, Still played in the pit orchestra for Shuffle Along, and speculated that Gershwin may have borrowed the melody from his improvisations in the pit, which were later used in his own symphony. [1] [2]

The piece was originally penned in the key of D major. The song melody uses four notes of the five-note pentatonic scale, first rising, then falling. A rhythmic interest in the song is that the tune keeps behind the main pulse, with the three "I got..." phrases syncopated, appearing one beat behind in the first bar, while the fourth phase "Who could..." rushes in to the song. The song's chorus is in a 34-bar AABA form. [3] Its chord progression (although often reduced to a standard 32-bar structure for the sake of improvised solos) is known as the "rhythm changes" and is the foundation for many other popular jazz tunes. The song was used as the theme in Gershwin's last concert piece for piano and orchestra, Variations on "I Got Rhythm" , written in 1934. The song has become symbolic of the Gershwins, of swing and of the 1920s.

As usual, George Gershwin wrote the melody first and gave it to Ira to set, but Ira found it an unusually hard melody for which to compose lyrics. He experimented for two weeks with the rhyme scheme he felt the music called for — sets of triple rhymes — but found that the heavy rhyming "seemed at best to give a pleasant and jingly Mother Goose quality to a tune which should throw its weight around more". Finally, he began to experiment with leaving most of the lines unrhymed. "This approach felt stronger," he wrote, "and I finally arrived at the present refrain, with only 'more-door' and 'mind him-find him' the rhymes." He added that this approach "was a bit daring for me who usually depended on rhyme insurance". [4]

Ira also wrote that, although the phrase "Who could ask for anything more?" is repeated four times in the song, George decided not to make it the title because "somehow the first line of the refrain sounded more arresting and provocative". [4]


History

The song was included in the Gershwin brothers' 1931 Broadway musical Of Thee I Sing . [5] [ circular reference ]The meaning of this song is how she was perfectly fine with her life and loved how it was going no matter what.

An instrumental arrangement for piano and orchestra appears in the 1945 Hollywood Victory Caravan . [6]

The song is featured in the 1951 musical film An American in Paris . Gene Kelly sang the song and tap-danced, while French-speaking children whom he had just taught a few words of English shouted the words "I got" each time they appeared in the lyrics. This version finished at #32 in AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs survey of top tunes in American cinema.

It is also featured in the film Mr. Holland's Opus , during a scene in which students are trying out for a Gershwin revue, and in the movie My Girl, during a dinner scene in which the grandmother sings it, oblivious of the other characters.

An extensive list of notable singers have recorded this song. The most popular versions are those of The Happenings (#3 on the US charts in 1967 [7] ), Judy Garland, Ethel Merman, Ella Fitzgerald and, more recently, Jodi Benson.

It is a very popular jazz standard. Many songs use its chord progression, such as Duke Ellington's "Cotton Tail". Charlie Parker alone based many songs on its chord progression, such as "Moose the Mooche". Gary Larson referenced the song in the Far Side.

In 1939, I Got Rhythm was arranged and orchestrated by Bruce Chase for a premiere performance by the Kansas Philharmonic, now the Kansas City Symphony. [8]

A version of the song set to a disco beat was recorded by Ethel Merman for her Ethel Merman Disco Album in 1979. [9]

In 1992, the show Crazy for You featured the song sung by Jodi Benson. [10]

Another version of the song was arranged for solo guitar by Ton Van Bergeyk. It appears on the album Black and Tan Fantasy. Mike Oldfield and Wendy Roberts performed a version on Oldfield's Platinum album .

The song was satirized in an episode of The Muppet Show where Rowlf and Fozzie attempt to perform it but Fozzie is unable to keep in tempo. To compensate, Rowlf has him change the lyrics to "I don't got rhythm". [11]

The song has appeared in several film versions of Girl Crazy:

Other recordings

See also

Related Research Articles

George Gershwin American composer and pianist

George Gershwin was an American composer, pianist and painter whose compositions spanned both popular and classical genres. Among his best-known works are the orchestral compositions Rhapsody in Blue (1924) and An American in Paris (1928), the songs "Swanee" (1919) and "Fascinating Rhythm" (1924), the jazz standard "I Got Rhythm" (1930), and the opera Porgy and Bess (1935), which gave birth to the hit "Summertime".

Ethel Merman American actress and singer

Ethel Merman was an American actress, artist, and singer. Known primarily for her distinctive, powerful voice and leading roles in musical theatre, she has been called "the undisputed First Lady of the musical comedy stage". Over her distinguished career in theater she became known for her iconic performances in shows such as Anything Goes, Annie Get Your Gun, Gypsy, and Hello, Dolly!. She is also known for her film roles in Anything Goes (1936), Call Me Madam (1953), There's No Business Like Show Business (1954), and It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963). Among many accolades, she received the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical for her performance in Call Me Madam, a Grammy Award for Gypsy and Drama Desk Award for Hello, Dolly!.

In a musical composition, a chord progression or harmonic progression is a succession of chords. Chord progressions are the foundation of harmony in Western musical tradition from the common practice era of Classical music to the 21st century. Chord progressions are the foundation of Western popular music styles and traditional music. In these genres, chord progressions are the defining feature on which melody and rhythm are built.

Concerto in F is a composition by George Gershwin for solo piano and orchestra which is closer in form to a traditional concerto than his earlier jazz-influenced Rhapsody in Blue. It was written in 1925 on a commission from the conductor and director Walter Damrosch. It is just over half an hour long.

<i>Girl Crazy</i>

Girl Crazy is a 1930 musical with music by George Gershwin, lyrics by Ira Gershwin and book by Guy Bolton and John McGowan. Ethel Merman made her stage debut in this musical production and it also turned Ginger Rogers into an overnight star.

"Body and Soul" is a popular song and jazz standard written in 1930 with music by Johnny Green and lyrics by Edward Heyman, Robert Sour and Frank Eyton. It was also used as the musical theme and underscoring in the American film noir boxing drama Body and Soul.

Rhythm changes Common 32-bar chord progression in jazz

Rhythm changes are a common 32-bar chord progression in jazz, originating as the chord progression for George Gershwin's "I Got Rhythm". The progression is in AABA form, with each A section based on repetitions of the ubiquitous I–vi–ii–V sequence (or variants such as iii–vi–ii–V), and the B section using a circle of fifths sequence based on III7–VI7–II7–V7, a progression which is sometimes given passing chords.

"You're Just in Love" is a popular song by Irving Berlin. It was published in 1950 and was first performed by Ethel Merman and Russell Nype in Call Me Madam, a musical comedy that made its debut at the Imperial Theatre in New York City on October 12 that year. The show ran for 644 performances. Ethel Merman also later starred in the 1953 film version. Theatre lore has it that Berlin wrote the song one night after Call Me Madam was not doing well in tryouts. The second act of the show was lacking. "What I'd like to do is a song with the kid ," Merman said. So, Berlin went to his room and later produced the counterpoint song. When Berlin played the song for Merman, she said, "We'll never get off the stage." Reportedly, Berlin played the song for Russell Nype first, but admonished him not to admit he did so because it would infuriate Merman.

Variations on "I Got Rhythm" is a set of variations for orchestra and piano solo composed by George Gershwin in 1933–34. The piece is dedicated "to [his] brother Ira".

"Everything's Coming Up Roses" is a song from the 1959 Broadway musical Gypsy, with lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and music by Jule Styne. Introduced in the musical's inaugural production by Ethel Merman, "Everything's Coming Up Roses" became one of Merman's signature songs.

"Boy! What Love Has Done to Me!" is a song composed by George Gershwin, with lyrics by Ira Gershwin. It was introduced by Ethel Merman in the 1930 musical Girl Crazy. In the 1943 film version, the song was performed by Tommy Dorsey and His Orchestra.

"Sam and Delilah" is a song composed by George Gershwin, with lyrics by Ira Gershwin. It was introduced by Ethel Merman in the 1930 musical Girl Crazy.

<i>Girl Crazy</i> (1943 film) 1943 film by Norman Taurog and Busby Berkeley

Girl Crazy is a 1943 American musical film produced by the Freed Unit of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Based on the stage musical Girl Crazy – which was written by Guy Bolton and Jack McGowan, with music and lyrics by George and Ira Gershwin – it stars Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland in the last of their nine co-starring movies. Production began with Busby Berkeley as director, but he was soon replaced by Norman Taurog.

1930s in jazz Jazz music-related events during the 1930s

Swing jazz emerged as a dominant form in American music, in which some virtuoso soloists became as famous as the band leaders. Key figures in developing the "big" jazz band included bandleaders and arrangers Count Basie, Cab Calloway, Jimmy and Tommy Dorsey, Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, Fletcher Henderson, Earl Hines, Glenn Miller, and Artie Shaw. Duke Ellington and his band members composed numerous swing era hits that have become standards: "It Don't Mean a Thing " (1932), "Sophisticated Lady" (1933) and "Caravan" (1936), among others. Other influential bandleaders of this period were Benny Goodman and Count Basie.

1920s in jazz

The period from the end of the First World War until the start of the Depression in 1929 is known as the "Jazz Age". Jazz had become popular music in America, although older generations considered the music immoral and threatening to cultural values. Dances such as the Charleston and the Black Bottom were very popular during the period, and jazz bands typically consisted of seven to twelve musicians. Important orchestras in New York were led by Fletcher Henderson, Paul Whiteman and Duke Ellington. Many New Orleans jazzmen had moved to Chicago during the late 1910s in search of employment; among others, the New Orleans Rhythm Kings, King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band and Jelly Roll Morton recorded in the city. However, Chicago's importance as a center of jazz music started to diminish toward the end of the 1920s in favor of New York.

Del Porter was an American jazz vocalist, saxophonist, and clarinetist who, in the 1930s, performed on Broadway, toured with Glenn Miller, and recorded with Bing Crosby, Dick Powell, and Red Nichols, and in the 1940s, led his own big band.

"I Got Plenty o' Nuttin'" is a song composed in 1934 by George Gershwin for the 1935 "folk-opera" Porgy and Bess (1934). The lyrics are by DuBose Heyward, the author of the novel Porgy on which the opera was based, and Ira Gershwin. It is one of the most famous songs from the opera and it has been recorded by hundreds of singers and music groups.

References

  1. Johnson, Lawrence (August 21, 2005). "FASCINATIN' FILCHIN'?". South Florida Sun-Sentinel . Retrieved April 19, 2021.
  2. Harpstead, Jen Hitt,Ella. "The Dean Of African-American Composers Didn't Think He'd Be Remembered: William Grant Still At 125". Colorado Public Radio. Retrieved 2021-04-19.
  3. Covach, John (2005), "Form in Rock Music: A Primer", in Stein, Deborah, Engaging Music: Essays in Music Analysis, New York: Oxford University Press, p.70, ISBN   0-19-517010-5 .
  4. 1 2 Gershwin, Ira (1959). Lyrics on Several Occasions (First ed.). New York: Knopf. OCLC   538209.
  5. Of Thee I Sing
  6. Hollywood Victory Caravan and Bond Rallies, in Hollywood Goes to War: Collector's Edition, 2004 pressing, Diamond Entertainment, Disk 1.
  7. "See You in September", Billboard . Accessed 2007-10-03.
  8. ""Violinist Arranges Laughter at Symphony:" The Milwaukee Sentinel, April 11, 1984". 1984-04-11. Retrieved 2012-02-23.
  9. The Ethel Merman Disco Album, Track 7. 1979 recording reissued on CD in 2002 by Universal Music Enterprises, a division of UMG Recordings, Inc.
  10. "London theatre map with what's on, where with official ticket booking".
  11. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=32j8M5G1f8o
  12. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 Gioia, Ted (2012). The Jazz Standards: A Guide to the Repertoire. New York City: Oxford University Press. pp. 167–169. ISBN   978-0-19-993739-4.
  13. "The Happenings Official Website - Discography". Thehappenings.com. Retrieved 2016-10-01.
  14. "discogs.com". discogs.com. Retrieved 2020-03-24.
  15. Front Row Center: The Broadway Gold Box, 1935 – 1988 (Media notes). Ethel Merman. Broadway Gold/MCA Classics. 1996. 11353.CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  16. "Hollywood". AllMusic. Retrieved 2017-10-24.
  17. "I Got Rhythm - Tony Glausi, Julian Lee, Joel Wenhardt, Russell Hall, TJ Reddick". YouTube. 2020-03-22. Retrieved 2020-08-22.

Sources