- Category: Dixieland Repertoire Studies
- Written by Jim Ivy
Mark W. Sheafe, Clarence A. (Tod) Robbins, and Thornton W. Allen
There can't be more than a handful of high schools in the U.S. that do not use either Washington and Lee Swing or The Notre Dame Victory March as their fight song. On any given Friday night during football season, this song is probably heard more than any million selling pop tune ever written.
Washington and Lee Swing is also popular with dixieland and swing musicians and has been performed and recorded by almost everyone at one time or another. Sadly, many of the recordings are of the type that give "dixieland jazz" a corny connotation in the minds of many.
The song was originally composed in compound (6/8) meter, but most jazz versions are in simple meter with two beats per bar. In form, this is a standard 32 bar march trio. There is no bridge. Normally the tempo is quite up, but the song also works well at a more sedate marching tempo. The melody is straight forward and easy to sing. That probably goes a long way toward it's popularity.
The tune is popular with bluegrass groups as well as dixieland bands. In fact when searching YouTube for an example, the bluegrass versions seemed more musical and less corny than the jazz versions. Here is a performance that is neither bluegrass nor dixieland. This is big band recording featuring Louis Armstrong. It was recorded 1n 1937 during a radio show.
Interestingly enough, here is a 2009 video of Vince Giordano's Nighthawks attempting to recreate the same arrangement that Armstrong performed in 1937. Listening to the two performances clearly points out the genius and outstanding musicallity of Louis Armstrong.
Here are two midi files that you can use to practice this tune: