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Need help playing semi-quavers in swing rhythm

Tobes

Member
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174
Hey there, I can play swung (?) quavers and straight semi-quavers, just after some pointers on best way to play swung semi-quavers? Have been listening to a lot of Sonny Stitt and Phil Woods and noticed that they seem to be playing some really cool semi-quaver lines, which I can't seem to do. Was thinking about just gradually increasing speed of quavers in swing rhythm but wondering it there is some trick that I am missing...Best, Tobs
 

Pete Thomas

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You can "swing" (bounce) quavers or semiquavers. Usually for faster tempos the quavers or semiquavers become straighter.

In a typical mainstream jazz context when there are lots of quavers, then doubletime semiquavers are usually more or less straight, due to the speed of them.

When semiquavers are usually bounced I find is when they are used in funk rhythms, e.g. the Meters. In this case the quavers are straight and the semiquavers can be either straight or swung.

NB: quavers often have a swing feel even when played straight, but with bebop tonguing. Off the top of my head I think you might find good examples of this with some of the cool players such as Desmond and Konitz
 

Two Voices

Senior Member
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The way I figure it, guys such as Sonny Stitt who swung quavers is to play the quaver on the beat longer than off beat quaver. The exact rhythm is difficult to notate, its something you get a feel for. Try playing the phrase slowly getting a feel for it and then speed up to the correct speed and it’ll swing ;}
 

Tobes

Member
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174
NB: quavers often have a swing feel even when played straight, but with bebop tonguing. Off the top of my head I think you might find good examples of this with some of the cool players such as Desmond and Konitz
Maybe it's just the bebop tonguing then that the bebop masters use to bounce semi-quavers and the semi-quavers are in fact almost straight? Either way, its sounds pretty cool! Having tried it a few times my articulation tends to trip me up as I don't think my tongue can actually move that fast or co-ordinated?
 

baritonesax

Member
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256
Having tried it a few times my articulation tends to trip me up as I don't think my tongue can actually move that fast or co-ordinated?
You're not the only one! However, practising lines of swung quavers at increasing speeds will yield results - even quite quickly. I can play lines of quavers across most of the horn's registers pretty reliably at speeds of up to 250bpm(-ish) - faster than that then the wheels start to come off! Five years ago I could probably only manage 180bpm. I have spent a lot of time practising this.

On the matter of jazz articulation - one way of thinking about swung quavers is oo-da-oo-da-oo-da if you start on the beat, and da-oo-da-oo-da etc. if you start off the beat. I think that visualising (if that's the word) tat -tat,tat -tat,tat may possibly yield less swinging, more pedantic-sounding lines.
 

MandyH

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Being a radio amateur, I've always swung my quavers morse-style: dah-dit dah-dit dah-dit etc !!

:shocked: :)))
 

ArtyLady

Well-Known Member
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1,030
Gosh never had to think about it - just seem to do it....have you tried playing the scale slurring the notes together in pairs?
 

baritonesax

Member
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256
Yeah I think that's probably the only way to do it and then gradually speed it up. Probably better if I give an example of what I am trying to do.

Here's Sonny Stitt playing tenor in Tune-Up: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/30652037/Tune%20Up%20Sonny%20Stitt.aiff
Oh, you're trying to do that! Basic blazing bebop lines!

No substitute for getting the Charlie Parker Omnnibook, or transcriptions of a favourite player, and working through them with a metronome. As Pete was saying, the faster the tune, the less "swung" the quavers. Semi-quavers are never swung, at least not by the jazzers I've been listening to these years anyway.
 

Pete Thomas

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Tounge the offbeats, not onbeats. It's also called back-tounging. It helps me a lot.
I agree this is veruy good, except at very very fast tempos when it is not possible. Then it can help sometimes to tongue the onbeats, so semiquavers (or quavers) are groups of 4 with the first one tongued. This must be done very lightly, as imperceptibly as possible.
 

Young Col

Well-Known Member
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2,419
Being a radio amateur, I've always swung my quavers morse-style: dah-dit dah-dit dah-dit etc !!

:shocked: :)))
Mandy, sorry to others for off topic, but for the same reason it falls quite naturaly to me too. The 3:1 ratio is correct too! I often vary warm up scales using dah-dit or di-dah for a bit of interest. Not really thought about longer Morse sequences although Barrington Phelong did it brilliantly for the Morse detective series.
YC
 
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