British Universities Film & Video Council

moving image and sound, knowledge and access

Birth of Swing


Series Name
The March of Time 2nd Year


Issue No.
Date Released
Stories in this Issue:
  1. 1Father of all turks
  2. 2Conquering Cancer
  3. 3Birth of Swing


Story No. within this Issue
3 / 3
The March of Time synopsis: Everyone has heard of "swing". Its enthusiasts range from high-browed intellectuals to the messenger boys in the streets, and many are the heated arguments as to what it is and where it came from. In an amusing episode entitled "Birth of Swing". The March of Time answers both questions. We are told of the discovery in an obscure cafe in New Orleans, as long ago as 1916, of the Dixie land Jazz Band, of how this new music, "jazz", "a kind of swingin’ music" - as the Dixielanders called it - swept the country, played by every small-town dance band, until jazz became synonymous with "cheap" music and the Dixieland Jazz Band sank into obscurity again. Gradually a new kind of jazz, "swing" becomes the rage, in Harlem and the elegant West End hotels. The Victor Talking Machine Company, trying to supply overwhelming demands for more and more "swing", unearth an old record of the Dixieland Jazz Band and discover it to be pure "swing". Frantic attempts are made to re-assemble the old band, scattered over a period of ten years. They are persuaded to form again and practice their famous "Tiger Rag".
At last with their sensational appearance in Boston with Radio’s Ken Murray, the mystery is solved, as it becomes clear that today’s "swing" is only yesterday’s "jazz".
Researcher Comments
This story was included in Vol.3 No.7 of the US edition.
Written sources
National Film Archive Catalogue
The March of Time Promotional Material   Publicity Brochure, Used for synopsis

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