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Beginner Swinging Notes

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34
#1
Hi all,

So, swinging notes.... This has got me totally stumped.

I think I'm a fairly competent player and progressing well for the time I've been playing (7 months). But I'm really struggling with swinging notes.
I completely understand the rhythmic principles and I think I have that technique sorted, however, my teacher says I'm swinging on beats 1 and 3 instead of 2 and 4 (or something to do with beats 1 and 3 instead of 2 and 4). When my teacher swings a major scale I can hear a subtle difference to mine, however, I'm struggling to apply this to change my own technique.
When I swing a major scale it sounds fine, and when I record it it sounds fine. It's only when my teacher does a side by side recording I can actually hear the difference.

Is this a common beginner issue? Is there an easy way to correct this?

Many thanks

Ian
 

Colin the Bear

Well-Known Member
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10,578
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Burnley bb9 9dn
#2
Think of a crotchet as a triplet with the first two tied. Doo bi Doo bi Doo bi Doo bi. When you get your head round that... Listen to the greats.

Swing has a back beat or sometimes called an up beat 1 2 3 4

Like this

View: https://youtu.be/ZPAmDULCVrU


It's easier to hear what a singer is doing because you register the words. Instrumental pieces tend to just wash over you till you catch the beat.

Dancing will get you there quicker than drumming
 
Messages
34
#3
Thanks Colin. What you say makes perfect sense. I think I swing well in musical pieces I know well (summertime, in the mood etc.), but when it comes to anything unfamiliar I resort back to 1 and 3.
It's interesting you said think of a crotchet as a triplet, I always imagined two crotchets.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
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#4
You only swing the quavers.

So in the score you'll see quavers. In your head pair them into crotchets, even if they're quaver rests. What Colin's saying uses the framework of a crotchet to show how to divide the time between the two written quavers.
 

tenorviol

Full of frets in North Shropshire
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#5
What Kev says. You swing pairs of quavers - you "tripletise" them with the first quaver being about 2/3 and the second 1/3 of the crotchet beat. Roughly. In French Baroque music of late C17th and early C18th they had "quavers inégale" i.e. Unequal quavers. Whether the emphasis is on beats 1&3 or 2&4 depends on the musical genre.
 
Messages
358
#6
Don't get too hung up on the triplet thing. It only works at slow to medium tempos. The quavers get more even as the tempo picks up. By mm=200 quavers are about even. Nothing swings less than overdoing "tripletisation" at faster tempos.

Articulation is important too. Generally you tongue the off beats but only lightly or it sounds stupid. There may be a slight emphasis on 2 and 4. I don't try to do that that consciously myself but it's possible that I do.

It's very subtle. Listening to a lot of music that swings and trying to copy it is the only way really.
 
Messages
358
#7
Swing is the passing of good time.
Calling time don’t swing.
Making time don’t swing.
Killing time don’t swing.
Spare time don’t swing.
People with good time got no time to spare.

People called ‘‘hip’’ swing,
or they think they do.
Money don’t swing,
though what it buys certainly can.
‘‘Money time’’ don’t swing.
‘‘It don’t mean a thing if you ain’t got that swing.’’

Monk swings—the Pope don’t.
Russians don’t swing.
Generalizations don’t swing
—it must be possible to find one swinging Russian.
Black people swing more than white people.
Buppies forget how to swing on purpose.
Black people are funky.
White people who call black people funky don’t swing.

Babies are funky (babies swing).
A smile swings.
Farts are funky
Americans get less funky all the time,
though they can still swing.
The French do not swing,
though they are funky.
Cunnilingus is funky,
but the word don’t swing.
If you don’t know what I’m talking about—
You probably don’t swing.

Mike Zwerin
 

nigeld

festina andante
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Bristol
#8
@IGoddard - I think there may be 3 separate things we are talking about here.

Firstly, swung quaver lengths. As previous posters have said, it is quavers (eighth-notes) that are swung, rather than crotchets (quarter notes), and the length of the first quaver in the pair is usually about 2/3 of a crotchet.

Secondly, swung quaver articulation. If you have, for example, 8 quavers in a bar, then a classical musician may slur the quaver pairs 1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8, (du-oo, du-oo, du-oo, du-oo) whereas a jazz musician might slur 2-3, 4-5, 6-7 (du, du-oo, du-oo, du-ooo, du). Think of Pink Panther.

Thirdly, when playing 4 crotchets (quarter notes) in a bar, classical players tend to emphasise beats 1 and 3, whereas jazz players tend to emphasise beats 2 and 4. This is a feature of jazz "swing", but it is different from swung quavers.
 

Colin the Bear

Well-Known Member
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10,578
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Burnley bb9 9dn
#9
Swing derived from Jazz and New Orleans as a dance music and had many sub genres and proponents till it arrived at rock and roll.

You can follow its development and better understand it on youtube. Look for names like

Bix Beiderbecke, Frankie Trumbauer, Adrian Rollini, Eddie Lang and Joe Venutti, Fletcher Henderson, Teagarden from the early days

Paul Whiteman 1920's

Duke Ellington, Erskine Hawkins, Count Basie, Glen Miller, Artie Shaw, Benny Goodman were recording 1930's and some until the 1970's and are very accessible

View: https://youtu.be/IFeFaZoj2QY


View: https://youtu.be/iBTYcqtaOjg


Try and keep still to this one....

View: https://youtu.be/cb2w2m1JmCY



Louis Jordan and Louis Prima are worth a listen.

You may be surprised that you've heard a lot of recordings already in Tv programs, adds and films.

Who could forget this one from Louis Prima

YouTube
 

jbtsax

old and opinionated
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Beautiful Springville, Utah USA
#10


The illustration above shows the rhythmic interpretation of "swing eighth notes (quavers)". As Dibbs indicated, at faster "Be-Bop" tempos the notes are played more evenly.

Jazz articulation for "swing notes" slurs the note on the beat and tongues the note on the off beat with a legato syllable. One exception is that the first note of a group is tongued even though it is on a beat. A scale up to the 9th and back down to a long tone would be articulated like this:

DA - DA - AH - DA - AH - DA - AH - DA - AH - DA - AH - DA - AH - DA - AH - DA - AHHHHH

Another exception is that the last eighth note (quaver) before a rest is tongued short.

DA - DA - AH - DA - AH - DA - AH - Dot or DA - DA - AH - Dot

In my view, the emphasis on 2 and 4 has more to do with the rhythm section than the the instruments playing the melodic lines.
 
Messages
34
#11
Lots of great advice, thanks guys. I had no idea there was so many variations of swing!
I'm currently learning afternoon in Paris, at a medium tempo. A piece which is played a such a spreed the swing is hard to anslyse.
 

Colin the Bear

Well-Known Member
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10,578
Location
Burnley bb9 9dn
#12
@jbtsax It's why I don't teach. I know what I mean but nobody else does.

The rhythm section emphasise two beats. Where you come in makes them 2 4 or 1 3.

Lots of great advice, thanks guys. I had no idea there was so many variations of swing!
I'm currently learning afternoon in Paris, at a medium tempo. A piece which is played a such a spreed the swing is hard to anslyse.

It's hard to play a fast piece at a medium tempo. And that's not really a swing piece, Jazz bordering on bebop imo


2 3 4
View: https://youtu.be/KyR0FDjNKKE


View: https://youtu.be/KYJDev3O1oY
 

sdt99

Member
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Messages
180
#13
Don't get too hung up on the triplet thing. It only works at slow to medium tempos. The quavers get more even as the tempo picks up. By mm=200 quavers are about even. Nothing swings less than overdoing "tripletisation" at faster tempos.

Articulation is important too. Generally you tongue the off beats but only lightly or it sounds stupid. There may be a slight emphasis on 2 and 4. I don't try to do that that consciously myself but it's possible that I do.

It's very subtle. Listening to a lot of music that swings and trying to copy it is the only way really.
I think this is the best response. I think you've got to listen and get the sound in your head and not think about 6/8, dotted quavers and semiquavers etc.

Also, I would say that more important than swinging is overall timing - when you record yourself along with a metronome or backing track how is your timing ? Is it rock solid (a little behind the beat is OK) or does it waiver a bit ? Rock solid timing is what IMO separates the great players from mere mortals. If you over-think the swing you'll likely mess up your timing.

Perhaps listen to some early Lester Young with Count Basie.

 
Messages
34
#14
I think this is the best response. I think you've got to listen and get the sound in your head and not think about 6/8, dotted quavers and semiquavers etc.

Also, I would say that more important than swinging is overall timing - when you record yourself along with a metronome or backing track how is your timing ? Is it rock solid (a little behind the beat is OK) or does it waiver a bit ? Rock solid timing is what IMO separates the great players from mere mortals. If you over-think the swing you'll likely mess up your timing.

Perhaps listen to some early Lester Young with Count Basie.

I think my timing is on point, I probably edge slightly too fast if anything. But as you say, over thinking any aspect of the music completely mucks up the timing
 

sdt99

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Messages
180
#15
I think my timing is on point, I probably edge slightly too fast if anything. But as you say, over thinking any aspect of the music completely mucks up the timing
Are you recording yourself to a backing track e.g. irealPro ? If not I recommend it - it can be painful, but the mic. doesn't lie, and the timing you feel is on point can be anything but. Timing has been my priority for most of 2017, and I've been playing well over 10 years (off an on for about 30 years).

I've known musicians who've studied at Berklee in Boston who have encyclopedic knowledge of chords, progressions, scales, etc, but whose playing sounds amateur and stilted because their timing is poor - it's often very overlooked in jazz IMO.
 
Messages
34
#16
Are you recording yourself to a backing track e.g. irealPro ? If not I recommend it - it can be painful, but the mic. doesn't lie, and the timing you feel is on point can be anything but. Timing has been my priority for most of 2017, and I've been playing well over 10 years (off an on for about 30 years).

I've known musicians who've studied at Berklee in Boston who have encyclopedic knowledge of chords, progressions, scales, etc, but whose playing sounds amateur and stilted because their timing is poor - it's often very overlooked in jazz IMO.
Self recording isn't something I do but I know I should. I do use iReal pro, I also play to a metronome as part of my daily routine. I have previous musical experience in the piano and violin so I'm well practised with a metronome, making the swap from classical to jazz seems to be more difficult than expected.
 

MandyH

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#17
It took me ages to learn to swing. Now I have to make a concerted effort to play straight when needed!

Being a Radio Amateur, I tend to think of my swing as Morse code! Dah Dit Dah Dit Dah Dit.

In theory the Dah's should be twice as long as the Dit's.

Try putting a Dah and a Dit into one beat. So if you clap or tap you foot on the beat, you need to sing or play a Dah-Dit in the space of one clap/tap.

Being an engineer, I also see a wave form in my mind's eye! (probably not a great deal of help to anyone else - but it looks a bit like those handwriting exercises you did when you were 4, and practicing your "U"s or "W"s - a curved bottom and a pointed top!)

I went to a Jazz workshop a while ago, and the tutor suggested putting a little more emphasis on the Dit's than the Dah's, to make them short and sharp.

However you manage it, keep practicing you will crack it one day.
 

Young Col

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Coulsdon, London/Surrey
#18
Louis Armstrong was really the first to bring out the emphasis of swing quavers on recordings, which is why it is said he taught the world to swing. Bechet and Bessie Smith were also progenitors. If you listen to the early recordings of King Oliver and the later ones of Bunk Johnson (but still in his early style) you find a more ragtime feel with its more upright rhythm. It's also worth a listen to Armand Piron's New Orleans Orchestra. A number like Lou'sianna Swing is on the cusp of ragtime to swing timing and shows a loosening of rhythm in successive choruses. Although recorded in 1924 there is good reason to believe they played like this for years earlier [I claim no originality for this - Alyn Shipton points it out perceptively in his New History of Jazz] . Piron's orchestra contained Lorenzo Tio on clarinet who taught Bechet and a good number of other New Orleans clarinetists.

Some basic written jazz and early swing dance music does show the triplet feel pointed out by other posters as a dotted quaver and semiquaver. If it's played like that it may be OK for the strict needs of formal dancing but it sounds somewhat tight. When you get used to playing jazz swing quavers come naturally as anything else sounds stilted. I find a lot of written jazz arrangements have no instruction about this as it's just accepted, but they do need to point out a change to rock or straight eights. Finally Humphrey Lyttelton suggested that the triplet like feel of swung quavers makes it more like a time signature of 12/8 than 4/4.