Let’s swing it! Whether you’re looking for beginner Lindy Hop music, you’re an experienced dancer, or you’re an aspiring Lindy Hop DJ, we’ve got some music tips for you to start building your music library.
This is a pretty gigantic topic with so much incredible music out there. There’s great Lindy Hop music from the swing era, the post-swing era of the ‘50s and ‘60s, and so much excellent contemporary swinging jazz too. This post will be a work in progress and we hope you find it a helpful jumping off point for you to start to build your music collection
But before we dive right in, we just want to remind everyone that the foundations of Lindy Hop and the Jazz music it was created to, are important parts of Black American History. It’s thanks to Black musicians and Black dancers that we have such a beautiful dance to explore and enjoy today. Learning about the History of Lindy Hop, as well as today’s Black experience in Lindy Hop, should absolutely be part of your Lindy Hop learning and personal development. Without this cultural information, you’re missing a huge part of the experience! There is plenty of research you can (and are encouraged to) do on your own, and if you need a starting point, please check out our History & Resources page. It’s a ‘work in progress’ as it’s something we’re actively working on ourselves.
Lindy Hop Music: Start with the Classics
The classics are a classic for a reason! There are so many sensational jazz musicians from the 1930s and ‘40s that you absolutely need to explore as part of your Lindy Hop music education. If you’re discovering some of these artists for the very first time, we envy you! There is so much goodness and joy to discover here, you’re in for a real treat. This is a high level list of jazz artists to start your exploration –
Jimmy Dorsey & Tommy Dorsey
Slim and Slam
By exploring each of these musicians and their bands, you’ll start to uncover your personal tastes. At the same time, you’ll also start to get a sense of the foundations of swing and the music that gave birth to the dance we love.
Special Emphasis on: Count Basie, Count Basie, Count Basie, Chick Webb, & Count Basie
One of the most important names on the above list is Count Basie, and Basie deserves some special attention. According to all of the Lindy Hoppers of the time, Count Basie was truly royalty when it came to the most swinging music around. Frankie Manning, Norma Miller, and so many other legendary dancers all stressed how much Count Basie surpassed all of the other musicians in his ability to create pure, unadulterated, swinging music that made you want to dance. Considering that, Basie’s music really contributed greatly to the development of Lindy Hop.
We also want to give special recognition to Chick Webb’s Orchestra, the house band at the Savoy Ballroom. It was Chick Webb’s band that was playing when Lindy Hop was in some of its most important developmental stages, so listening to Chick Webb’s music can definitely be a source of inspiration to you in your practice and listening enjoyment.
Jazz Standards & Lindy Hop Standards
Learning Lindy Hop really goes hand in hand with learning about jazz music. There are so many jazz standards that have become part of the living and breathing essence of the dance. Many of these are standards throughout jazz, and some of them have become standards more specifically within our dance community.
After You’ve Gone
Ain’t She Sweet
All of Me
All Or Nothing At All
Almost Like Being In Love
Baby Won’t You Please Come Home
Begin the Beguine
Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen
Bye Bye Blackbird
C-Jam Blues (aka: Duke’s Place)
Cheek to Cheek
Darktown Strutters Ball
Dedicated to You
Deed I Do
Do Nothing Til You Hear From Me
Don’t Get Around Much Anymore
Easy Does It
Exactly Like You
Flat Foot Floogie
Hit That Jive Jack
I Can’t Believe That You’re in Love with Me
I Can’t Give you Anything But Love
I Got Rhythm
I Let a Song Go Out of My Heart
I’m Beginning to See the Light
I’ve Found a New Baby
I’ve Got The World On A String
In a Mellotone
Is You Is, Or Is You Ain’t My Baby
It Don’t Mean a Thing
It’s Only a Paper Moon
Just Squeeze Me (But Don’t Tease Me)
Kansas City (Blues)
Let’s Fall In Love
Love Is Here to Stay
Lullaby of Birdland
Mack the Knife
Mean to Me
My Baby Just Cares For Me
Nice Work If You Can Get It
Night and Day
On the Sunny Side of the Street
One O’Clock Jump
Our Love Is Here To Stay
Pennies From Heaven
Rockin’ in Rhythm
Sing Sing Sing
Slow Boat to China
Sometimes I’m Happy
Stompin’ at the Savoy
Sweet Georgia Brown
Tain’t What You Do
Take The “A” Train
Tea For Two
The Surrey with the Fringe on Top
Them There Eyes
They Can’t Take That Away from Me
Things Ain’t What They Used to Be
This Can’t Be Love
Three Little Words
What Is This Thing Called Love?
When The Saints Go Marching In
When You’re Smiling
Why Don’t You Do Right
What’s great about looking up these songs is that you’ll find many different versions of each one, each with its own musical interpretation. If you’re an aspiring DJ, there’s nothing quite like spinning a new version of a familiar song to engage an audience. You can really have some fun with these!
Explore Contemporary Lindy Hop Bands
We are so lucky to have so many bands that have dedicated themselves to this swinging tradition. Whenever possible, we encourage you to support these wonderful bands; buy their music to include in your library, see them live whenever possible, and attend their virtual concerts whenever they’re available. They are an excellent supplement to all of the great classic music we’ve talked about.
There are a lot of really amazing bands out there—we can’t possibly name them all! We’re going to give priority here to the bands whose music we’ve used here on iLindy. Please make sure to check out the iLindy Bands Page for more details about these stellar swinging musicians!
Gentlemen & Gangsters
Hot Sugar Band
Jonathan Stout and His Campus Five, featuring Hilary Alexander
Michael Gamble & His Rhythm Serenaders
Shirt Tail Stompers
Solomon Douglas Swingtet
And by the way, we sell some of this music on our shop. Click here.
Have we forgotten anything important? I’m sure we have! We plan to keep adding to this post so please let us know what we’ve missed so we can update it!
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