It is quite challenging to determine the genre of Frank Sinatra’s song. Some say he’s a jazz singer because he sang with the best jazz bands during his time. If there’s a Frank Sinatra genre – what genre is it?
It is best to classify the main genre of Frank Sinatra as “classic pop” or “traditional pop.” But some will say the songs he sang were a cross of several genres such as big-band, swing, jazz, and “easy listening.”
Since Frank Sinatra performed with the big jazz musicians and jazz bands his age, many casual fans say he was a jazz musician. However, he also sang with some pop and rock and roll artists of his day. So, Frank Sinatra’s particular genre is tough to isolate.
Read on to learn more about the genre of Frank Sinatra and how we can pinpoint what it is.
Frank Sinatra Genre
Classic or Traditional Pop
It is quite difficult to classify the main genre of the songs of Frank Sinatra because he sang different types of songs during his heyday. Perhaps the best way to describe the main genre of Frank Sinatra’s songs is “classic pop” or “traditional pop.”
Most of his casual fans will say he is a jazz singer since he sang with the most famous jazz artists and bands during his time. However, he also sang with different pop and rock and roll artists in his day.
One of the Greatest Musical Artists of the 20th Century
This was one of the reasons why he became so popular all over the world. He is believed to be one of the greatest musical artists of the 20th century. Records say that he was able to sell approximately 150 million records around the world during his time. Frank Sinatra also received several Grammy Awards. He also starred in several Hollywood movies.
Generally, it is safe to say that Frank Sinatra is a pop singer. But you need to consider that the pop genre refers explicitly to popular music before the emergence of the rock and roll genre. Sinatra’s music, others would say, is referring to what is now called classic pop or traditional pop.
Meaning of Pop Is Different from the Pop Today
But you should also understand that the meaning of ‘pop’ in Sinatra’s day is vastly different from what is called ‘pop music’ today. What we call pop today is very different from the pop of Sinatra’s day.
Sinatra’s song styles could be best described today as “American Popular.” This American genre can trace its roots in several musical styles, including folk, blues, jazz, and pop. But you need always to remember that it is different from modern pop and its related genres.
Traditional Pop Nature
Music Genre Created After Jazz and Big Band Era
Traditional pop is the popular music people knew then before the birth of rock and roll. It was the music genre that was created right after the jazz and big band era. Some people believe that the birth of traditional pop was slightly before or even at the same time as rock and roll.
During that time, professional songwriters wrote songs. Most often, they choose who gets to sing their songs. Usually, the singer also is part of a small combo or band or maybe an orchestra member.
Traditional Pop Artists
The traditional pop artists of those days also refer to the arrangers or orchestra leaders who choose and manage musical instruments to back up the singer in their recordings and performances.
Sinatra’s Popularity Started During America’s Big Band Era
To his credit, Frank Sinatra’s popularity started during America’s Big Band era. This is the musical genre that dominated the early 1940s. Sinatra’s popularity persisted throughout the 1950s before the rise of rock and roll.
But even after that, Sinatra still enjoyed some level of popularity. To help you appreciate Sinatra’s voice, listen to this video of him singing “That’s Life:”
How Pop Music Evolved
Big Bands and Jazz Influenced the Traditional Pop Genre Development
Remember that traditional pop music was born after the jazz or the big band era. However, that does not mean that big bands and jazz never influenced the development of the traditional pop genre.
Jazz Was Borne After Ragtime
Jazz itself was borne out of Ragtime, which was then popular with the African-American communities during the early 20th century. Ragtime eventually transformed into Swing and Swing, then developed into jazz.
Jazz most often involved different musical instruments, with the number of instruments slightly lesser than the instruments in a small orchestra. That’s why jazz bands were then also called ‘big bands.’ They became popular because of their improvisations, which orchestras in those days didn’t usually do.
Country and Blues Music
From here, musical artists began creating what is called Country and Blues music. They, together with jazz music, became popular during the period between 1930 and the early 1940s. Somehow, the three genres were combined and blended by some artists and became ‘Rockability’ music.
In the early 1940s, some singers pioneered a new music genre. These singers used their emotions even as much as crying while they were singing. This music genre is what would be known as popular music. It is the genre that developed into what is now called traditional pop music.
Going on to the 1950s, Frank Sinatra, together with Peggy Lee and Elvis Presley, who were all popular among the young generation, paved the way for later musical artists and singers to create more music in this genre.
Again, what is the Frank Sinatra genre called? Frank Sinatra’s main genre is classic or traditional pop. However, he also sang songs with big-band, swing, jazz, and “easy listening” genres.
How Different Is Jazz from Traditional Pop?
Jazz Evolved from the Classical Music
Jazz, as a musical genre, evolved from classical music. Its primary difference with any orchestra that plays classical music is that it improvises. A regular orchestra, either a symphony or a small orchestra, always plays strictly what is on the music sheet.
Jazz Group Uses Improvisation When Playing
Whether a band or an orchestra, a jazz group always uses improvisation when playing a music piece. They improvise in most parts of the music piece they are playing. They also use so much syncopation as they play, especially with the instruments or the vocals that carry the melody line.
No Particular Order or Arrangement When You Hear a Jazz Music Piece
It’s almost as if there was no particular order or arrangement when you hear a jazz music piece. It appears that every instrument, even if there are vocals in the piece, is going on its own. However, there is still a sense of order due to the harmony and organization that the musicians get across.
Similarities and Differences Between Traditional Pop and Modern Pop
Traditional pop and modern pop share several similarities. Both convey a particular message related to emotions, love, loss, among others. Traditional pop singers like Frank Sinatra sang about love affairs, parties, money, champagnes, etc. Meanwhile, modern pop singers croon about parties, love affairs, money, and drugs.
While there are many similarities between traditional pop and modern pop music, they differ in musicians’ musical instruments to produce both.
Traditional pop music relied heavily on the organic orchestra and band instruments, including:
- Guitars, and
Modern pop music still uses the instruments mentioned above, plus synthesizers, computer-enhanced vocalizations and unheard-of musical elements, and other modern musical instruments.
Modern pop has also taken some heavy influence from Rap and Blue or R&B. The musical artists that greatly contributed to this development are Eminem and Rihanna.
Frank Sinatra Delved in Other Musical Genres
Contrary to popular opinion, Frank Sinatra did not exclusively limit himself to singing traditional pop tunes. He also involved himself and sang and recorded songs that belonged to several music genres. Here are the music genres that Sinatra involved himself with when he was still alive:
This music genre can be considered as a sub-genre of jazz. It is a jazz variation that became popular in the 1930s through the 1940s. This genre also experienced a resurgence in the late 1970s.
Most people think that the songs of Frank Sinatra belong to this genre. Admittedly, many of his songs have a jazz nature. Examples are “Girl from Ipanema” and “That’s Life.” But certainly, you won’t consider his most famous song, “My Way,” to be a jazz song. He sang many more songs with that same spirit.
3. Easy Listening
This music genre was very popular during the 1950s, going all the way to the 1970s. The song “I Won’t Dance” by Frank Sinatra certainly falls into this category. So is “Strangers in the Night.”
4. Big Band
This genre was created by big bands, which were usually composed of ten or more members. This genre dominated the music scene during the early 1940s. Frank Sinatra rose to fame at the same time that these big bands were popular.
His big band songs include “Fly Me To The Moon” and “New York, New York.” Sinatra started his musical career as a big bands’ singer like the Harry James Band and the Tommy Dorsey band. As proof of this, here’s a video of Sinatra singing “Fly Me To The Moon.”
Why Frank Sinatra Became the Greatest American Singer of the 20th Century
Frank Sinatra’s uniqueness of voice made him one of America’s greatest singers of the 20th century. His is a warm, baritone voice, which is being mimicked by most pop-jazz singers today.
Another reason is his ability to internalize songs and deliver lyrics with emotions in front of an audience. Sinatra also strove to improve his craft by exercising his vocal cords.
It is not well known, but Sinatra practiced his vocal cords by imitating the melody delivered by a trombone. This exercise allowed him to sing seamlessly, smoothly, and in a very pleasant manner.
As his singing skills and his fame grew, it came to the point that most bands adjusted their playing to the way he sang. This enabled his star to shine even more. He became the center and the focus of every entertainment event he involved himself with because of his ability to sing up-tempo music, as well as the most popular ballads of the day.
Conclusion: Frank Sinatra Genre
What can best describe the genre of the songs that Frank Sinatra sang is “classic pop” or “traditional pop.” However, others will say it is a cross between different genres such as swing, big band, “easy listening,” and jazz.
During his heyday, Frank Sinatra sang a lot of songs in many different genres. He sang with the best-known jazz musicians and bands in those days, as well as pop and rock and roll singers. That’s the reason why his main genre is rather difficult to isolate.