Week 8 (Sounds of Laughter)

Academic Conversation Skill: Transitions
Concept: Canon
Time Period: 1940s – 1950s (Jazz)

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Commonly Used Transitions:

Cause and Effect

accordingly; as a result; consequently; hence; it follows, then; since; so; then; therefore; thus


as a result; consequently; hence; in conclusion, then; in short; in sum; it follows, then; so; therefore; thus; to sum up; to summarize


along the same lines; in the same way, likewise; similarly


although, but, by contrast, conversely, despite the fact that, even though, in contrast, nevertheless, on the contrary, on the other hand, regardless, whereas, while, yet


also; and; besides; furthermore; in addition; in fact; indeed; moreover; so too


admittedly; although it is true that; granted; I concede that; of course; naturally; to be sure


after all; as an illustration; consider; for example; for instance; specifically; to take a case in point


actually; by extension; in short; that is; in other words; to put it another way; to put it bluntly; to put it succinctly; ultimately (adapted from Graff and Birkenstein 2006, 174-75)


Western Canon (Wikipedia) “…denotes a body of books and, more broadly, music [including musical composers/performers] and art that have been traditionally accepted by Western scholars as the most important and influential in shaping Western culture.”

“Many scholars across the sciences and the humanities have taken humor seriously, seeking to answer the central questions about human belief and behavior as well as to discover what humor reveals about human psychology, social interaction, creative expression, playfulness, and pleasure. Such research is quite rare in the field of musicology, however, and is confined mainly to a handful of studies centered on canonical figures, including Mozart, Haydn, and Beethoven, whose credentials as serious artists are already firmly established…[this] can be explained in part because musical scholarship has historically championed aesthetic coherence and unity – music that makes sense – whereas musical humorists often poke fun at aesthetic conventions and embrace irreverence.” (Garrett 2012, 51)

Performance Example (1940s – 1950s/Jazz)

This video contrasts two artists mentioned by Garrett (2012): Sarah Vaughan (singer) and duo Slim & Slam (Slim Gaillard, piano and Slam Stewart, bass). Vaughan sings “They Can’t Take that Away From Me” (performed in 1954 and original composed by the famous American composer George Gershwin) and Slim and Slam perform as part of the film “Hellzapoppin'” (1941). Garrett argues that the former (which uses more subtle humor such as singing “off-key” to match the lyrics) is generally taken more seriously than than the latter (which uses theatrical antics) by scholars.

See Also:

Sarah Vaughan on YouTube

Slim and Slam on YouTube

Reading Questions

  • Have you noticed any canonical figures in your education or in any musical/comedic cultures in which you participate?
  • Why is musical humor is not taken seriously by many scholars? Have you encountered these attitudes in your everyday life?
  • How does Garrett use transitions in this passage?

Performance Questions

  • How do these two performances differ in their use of humor?
  • Why do you think Vaughan was classified as a canonical figure while Slim and Slam were not?
  • Are these distinctions still present in contemporary musical comedy?


Review your written materials from Weeks 2-7. Compile these materials into one document (this will save some time when writing your final project). Identify any transitions that you have already used (use the highlighter function) and add at least 3 additional transitions (use the underline function). Post as a Word file. (Due the Friday after class @ 5pm PST)

Other Sources for Canon

Tucker, Sherrie. 2000. Swing shift: “All-girl” bands of the 1940s. Durham: Duke University Press.

Other Jazz Performers (multiple time periods)

YouTube Links

Bobby McFerrin

Dorothy Donegan

Horace Silver, from “Jazz… Has… A Sense Of Humor” (1999)

Lenny Bruce, Psychopathia Sexualis (1958) [Bruce was an extremely influential stand-up comedian]

Louis Armstrong

Pete Barbutti joke on “Somewhere over the Rainbow” (Date Unknown)

Sex Mob, “Macarena” (1998)

Blog Posts

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