Music Makes Me: Fred Astaire and Jazz

By Todd Decker | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 4
“Tell them to let it swing”

The production of musical films brought together two, normally separate studio departments: writers in the writing department conceived of the story and wrote the dialogue; composers, lyricists, dance directors, arrangers, and orchestrators loosely allied in an expanded music department created the musical numbers. The archival traces left by these two departments offer different, often complementary perspectives on the filmmaking process. Scripts were the blueprints for the studio system production process. These story-centered documents were essential to the system’s rational approach to making an expensive, inherently risky product like the feature film. Beyond the final shooting script, draft scripts, outlines, and treatments afford glimpses of the writing and filmmaking process. Script files put words to pictures, offering clues to how producers, directors, writers, and others were thinking about a film as it was being conceived and prepared for production. Music departments largely worked without descriptive, story-based documents. Archival evidence from the music departments comes in two types: a variety of lists (such as rundowns of musical numbers made for budgeting purposes, recording session schedules, and lists of musical cues and songs used) and musical scores (mostly arrangers’ full scores and conductors’ short scores). Music department matters are taken up in the next chapter. This chapter stays close to the writers, showing how the musical content of Astaire’s routines was understood by the creative figures charged with describing films in words before the cameras

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Music Makes Me: Fred Astaire and Jazz
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents ix
  • Illustrations xi
  • Introduction 1
  • Part One - Astaire among Others 19
  • Chapter 1 - "There’s a Difference and Astaire Is It" 21
  • Chapter 2 - "I Am a Creator" 53
  • Part Two - Astaire at the Studios 97
  • Chapter 3 - "I Play with the Very Best Bands" 99
  • Chapter 4 - "Tell Them to Let It Swing" 115
  • Chapter 5 - "Fixing Up" Tunes 128
  • Part Three - Astaire in Jazz and Popular Music 167
  • Chapter 6 - "Keep Time with the Time and with the Times" 169
  • Chapter 7 - "Jazz Means the Blues" 217
  • Chapter 8 - "Something That’Ll Send Me" 246
  • Chapter 9 - "You Play and I’Ll Dance" 271
  • Conclusion 311
  • Notes 327
  • References 347
  • Acknowledgments 357
  • Permissions 361
  • Index 363
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