Stephanie Shih Humanities and Social Science
Sing Me a Swing Song: A Linguistic Approach to Text-setting in Jazz Bop Swing
Linguists have studied text-setting and proposed metrical templates for mapping text to music; however, their pioneering works on the subject have neglected music outside the Western classical genre. My research will explore the influence of music on text in jazz bop swing, since the rhythmic and artistic nature of swing differs greatly from Western classical music. Through analyzing the coupling of the rhythms of spoken language and music, I will utilize the linguistic methods of templates, rules, and Optimality Theory to answer the question, “What is the rhythmic structure that defines jazz?” I will study the “First Lady of Song,” Ella Fitzgerald, and her recordings of Johnny Mercer texts, since singer and lyricist are definitive icons of the jazz bop swing era. In the end, this project will offer a fuller perspective of metricality in text-setting and also develop the language of music in the linguistic field of study.