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Thread: A Question about Swing...

  1. #1
    MikeAshelby Guest

    Default A Question about Swing...

    Hi Guys,

    I have a question for you all - I'm hoping someone can help me out!

    Now, I understand that swing is based around a triplet feel. I forget the distinction between swing and shuffle (perhaps this is question 1!), but I know you can give a shuffle feel by hitting the 1st and 3rd of the triplet - ie. not hitting all 3 of the triplets...

    Here's the thing: I remember a drummer once explaining to me that straight 8ths can be gradually moved toward swing by keeping the quarter notes the same, but shifting the 8ths back. So by this reckoning, a beat can be slightly shuffled - correct?

    Now: in this scenario what happens to the 16ths? The first 16th might move toward the 2nd of triplets... but what about the 16th after the 8th? (does this make any sense?!)

    I'd really love to know your thoughts!

  2. #2

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    Default Re: A Question about Swing...

    the way I understand it...Shuffle is an unbroken string of dotted eight notes. Sounds like

    d-ding d-ding d-ding d-ding.

    Swing has a quarter note in there prececeding the dotted eight. Sounds like...

    ding ding d-ding ding d-ding ding d-ding

    Shuffles are typlified in country, gospel and blues, rock etc...

    Swing mostly associated with jazz and be bop

    Hope this helps

    all the best...

  3. #3

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    Default Re: A Question about Swing...

    IMHO the swing is a feel the others are actual beats.

  4. #4

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    Default Re: A Question about Swing...

    Triplets are an obvious swing because it is based around 3's. Broken 16th time is straight time that is made to feel like swing when it gets separated enough.

    A lot of drummers get this stuff confused. The best way to understand it is to think of it as the broken triplets being "real" swing and the dotted 8th sixteenth being "implied" swing. It all works in the end. Jazz drummers don't think about which their using on the stage. They play more along the lines of what the song calls for. Some drummers' standard swing ride pattern leans more toward the triplet pattern and other's leans toward the dotted 8th sixteenth pattern.
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  5. #5

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    Default Re: A Question about Swing...

    Quote Originally Posted by drummer View Post

    A lot of drummers get this stuff confused. The best way to understand it is to think of it as the broken triplets being "real" swing and the dotted 8th sixteenth being "implied" swing.
    To take this one step further, when writing charts, most arrangers/publishers like to notate swing as dotted 8ths and 16ths, but they usually write Swing to tell you you how to play it. I wonder if writing this way is easier somehow for them, or if it's just so standard that they don't even consider writing the broken triplets. I know that 90% of the charts I read are the first way, and when I see one written in broken triplets it almost looks odd to me.

    You also have to watch out for pieces where they change back and forth from swing to straight and the dotted 8ths/16ths become actual value.

  6. #6

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    Default Re: A Question about Swing...

    I think it's habit Johnny but I can't prove it. I'm interested in what anyone else has to say that's done a lot of jazz, big band, or show drumming.
    - Tom

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  7. #7

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    Default Re: A Question about Swing...

    When I was at the Armed Forces School of Music, because swing/big band was such a big part of military music at the time, they had a very specific method of teaching a swing-type feel to the more classically oriented players who weren't familiar with it, but who would need to know how to do it in order to be a military musician.

    It was explained as such:

    It's a triplet eigth note feel with a tie on the first two, and the emphasis on the last third of the beat.

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnnySticks View Post
    To take this one step further, when writing charts, most arrangers/publishers like to notate swing as dotted 8ths and 16ths, but they usually write Swing to tell you you how to play it.
    That's flat out annoying and hard to read - most of the time the only time I see swing written that way is for charts that are arranged specifically for a school band who otherwise would try to play the 8th figures as straight 8ths. Anything arranged for college to professional ensembles writes it as 8ths, so it's not "most" arrangers or publishers by any means. Aside from the fact that the dotted 8th-16th is totally the wrong feel if played "correctly" It would be VERY rick-a-ticky.

    To add another element onto this, when talking about "swing" there really is no single way to interpret it, and a lot of it depends on how hard the band is swinging in the context of the line. For some swing charts that triplet feel on the 8ths is really straightened out and it's hardly even there. For other charts, it's very defined. That's been my experience as a big band trumpet player anyway.
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  8. #8

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    Default Re: A Question about Swing...

    I remember hearing that a simple way to understand the meaning of swing is the nursey rhyme "Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of wa-ter".

    I'm think a lot of nursery rhymes have a swing feel to them.
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  9. #9

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    Default Re: A Question about Swing...

    I'm learning shuffles and "swing" right now from my drum teacher.

    Shuffles are explicitly written out to have the shuffle feel. It's not implied. The music is written explicitly so that you'll hit on the quarter and the last triplet (or the quarter and the "a" in 16ths). Depending on the type of shuffle (rock, blues, etc) this might be a right handed pattern on the ride or hats, or it could be a pattern you play on the bass while you play quarter with the right hand. The left hand plays the back beat on the snare and may or may not ghost the pattern. The important thing to take away is you are playing the music exactly as it was written.

    Swing feel is implied. It generally means playing something that was originally written in straight eighths and making it swing. This is done by playing all the quarters as they are written and by displacing the "ands" to be "lets". So if you were playing a straight ahead rock beat on the bass that was the standard "1---3&--" it would becomes "1------3-L---".

    My teacher spent a few minutes playing a bunch of simple straight ahead 8th note rock beats. He'd alternate between playing them straight and then swinging them It's amazing how the feel changes by making that slight displacement.

    I just learned this in my last two lessons so I still suck at turning the swing feel on and off at will. I have to think about it too much still. It'll probably take me a while before it becomes automatic. Also I've only learned to swing eighth note grooves. I'm not sure how to make 16th note grooves swing.
    Last edited by Doc_d; 10-22-2011 at 11:16 AM.

  10. #10

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    Default Re: A Question about Swing...

    Doc, I'm not trying to a jerk here, but how much sheet music have your read over the course of your musical career? The reason I ask is because I have plenty of shuffle charts in my music book (the trumpet parts for the charts for the wedding band I play in) that aren't explicitly written with dotted eighth/sixteenth figures - they are written as 8ths.

    Swing feel is of course implied on any swing chart, unless of course it's arranged for a beginning band, in which case it will be explicitly notated.

    When writing and arranging music, there aren't really any hard and fast rules about how a chart is notated, and for every "rule" regarding that kind of thing, I've read plenty of charts that completely break the rules. It's like saying Latin music, specifically Merengues and Salsas, are written in cut time. Well, not always - I've read some that were written in common time 2/4, which are both a bear to read for that kind of music, but it's what the arranger chose to use.

    I've also read charts that technically should be in specific key signatures, but where the key is left off, and the sharp of flat notes that would normally be a part of the key signature are notated individually as accidentals. While it's easier to read from a playing perspective, (for me it's easier to read individually notated accidentals than trying to remember a key signature that has more than 5 sharps or flats) technically it's not "correct."

    While this isn't directly related to the idea of figuring out a correct swing feel, at the same time I don't thing we should over-generalize and possibly confuse someone who reads this.
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  11. #11

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    Default Re: A Question about Swing...

    Quote Originally Posted by trickg View Post
    When I was at the Armed Forces School of Music, because swing/big band was such a big part of military music at the time, they had a very specific method of teaching a swing-type feel to the more classically oriented players who weren't familiar with it, but who would need to know how to do it in order to be a military musician.

    It was explained as such:

    It's a triplet eigth note feel with a tie on the first two, and the emphasis on the last third of the beat.


    That's flat out annoying and hard to read - most of the time the only time I see swing written that way is for charts that are arranged specifically for a school band who otherwise would try to play the 8th figures as straight 8ths. Anything arranged for college to professional ensembles writes it as 8ths, so it's not "most" arrangers or publishers by any means. Aside from the fact that the dotted 8th-16th is totally the wrong feel if played "correctly" It would be VERY rick-a-ticky.

    To add another element onto this, when talking about "swing" there really is no single way to interpret it, and a lot of it depends on how hard the band is swinging in the context of the line. For some swing charts that triplet feel on the 8ths is really straightened out and it's hardly even there. For other charts, it's very defined. That's been my experience as a big band trumpet player anyway.
    So, a trumpet player, and a military drummer? we should start a club.

    anywho.

    yes, swing is definitely an interpretation, with the basic understanding being as stated by trickg.

    the most important thing about swing is feel. you can play "ding chick bading chick bading" and it feel like nothing but a stale pattern. you really want to check out the way elvin jones philly joe jones swung and compare it to the way the big band guys swing such as buddy rich.
    combo swing and big band swing can feel much different, but there is a similar essence to the styles. embrace that, and you will be good.
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  12. #12

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    Default Re: A Question about Swing...

    andaone andatwo andathree andafour anda. repeat until your weep.

    then change it up.



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