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Re: Definition of swing.


My playing background is mainly Rock & Country. I've had a couple of wonderful experiences of playing with a big band but when I think of swing I think of some of the great Jazz drummers I've heard.

A couple of weeks ago someone posted in the video section a link to Diana Krall with Jeff Hamilton on drums. Its been a long time since I've been so taken by a singer and her music. Jeff's fine playing is one that would define "Swing" for me. I went out and got her greatest hits CD and just love it.
1/25/2009, 9:21 pm Link to this post Send Email to mainedrummer   Send PM to mainedrummer
 
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Re: Definition of swing.


...And she married Elvis Costello, for crying out loud! Shouldn't it have been some sexy, hunky movie star guy, and [sign in to see URL] Costello? Not that I don't like his music, or anything, [sign in to see URL], so I don't like his music either.

...But Elvis Costello? She coulda gotten anybody she wanted! What a doll!
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Re: Definition of swing.


New to forum, thought I'd chime in. Swing can have different meanings to different people, as you may heve noticed from the replies. Somebody here mentioned the triplet phrasing, I think that would be what most people mean if they are discussing swing and drums. It may be hard to pin down exactly what "swing" means to play but you sure "know" it if a drummer doesn't have swing!!!
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Re: Definition of swing.


quote:

tommytomms wrote:

It may be hard to pin down exactly what "swing" means to play but you sure "know" it if a drummer doesn't have swing!!!



Very Well Said!!!!!!!!!
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Re: Definition of swing.


As far as I can tell, swing is the gaps between the beats . . .

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Regards,

PK.
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Re: Definition of swing.


Mongolian throat singing ?

I have listened to alot of different music in my time but this one is new to [sign in to see URL] think I'll pass though.....

for a nice change of pace from rock I like to put on a little Leon [sign in to see URL] swing, but swag....
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Re: Definition of swing.


What a great thread!
And thanks, Throwoff, for the Ella link.
Just listening to her and watching her move was to experience a true professional at work. She knew her stuff. Damn! Almost brought tears to my eyes.

I play in both a rockabilly/blues band and a "swing" ensemble. I endorse what everyone here has said about swing. In the ensemble, we play the big band sound of the '20s, '30s, '40s. I'm not reading charts here but play from memory and by feel. I'm doing a good job, I'm told, so feel must be a large part of it. I also use some rock fills in songs where they seem to fit... not many, but where I use them, it seems to spice up the tune. That usually happens when I turn my brain off and just drift along in the zone.


 emoticon

-Joe

---
"...witness to gone times, and
To graces gone with time."
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Re: Definition of swing.


I've thought a lot about this, because I love swing and I've had an opportunity to channel that love through western swing and standards over the years. We were playing an Elks gig and we'd do songs like Choo Choo Ch'Boogie or Cab Driver and I could tell there was a certain groove I would get into that got the older folk happily dancing. I think it was because the backbeat was right in the middle, neither on top nor behind the beat.
And you absolutely must have a bass player who can play good walking 4/4 bass.
 
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Re: Definition of swing.


Hey All,

I realize this question was posted 2 years ago, but I love playing drums (all styles of music) and reading for knowledge as much as I can. So when I saw this I thought I would put my two cents in for what its worth.
To start with, swing is found in the rhythm section. The melody and soloists are allowed to take liberties with the rhythms and phrase their melody as they see fit. (They don t always do that but you can find enough exceptions to make your point). Dancers do the same thing. So forget what the melody does.

Not all swing music is written in 4/4 time, much of it is written in 2/2 time, sometimes 6/8 or 12/8, so forget about triplets, straight eights, etc. for now. Sometimes a particular song can be found in 4/4 time in one book and 2/2 time in another. Especially faster songs. I will try to get it across without using time signatures. For the people who know what swing is, but have come up with different numbers, we are sometimes talking about the same thing but using different time bases.

Forget about specific components of the rhythm section such as the ride cymbal, snare, hihat etc. the swing thing is a whole rhythm section approach. Sometimes different instruments (all working together) additively make the swing rhythm. Also, the swing notes are not the only ones played, other notes are added that either compliment or contrast the swing feel.


Without any musical jargon do the following:

Start tapping your feet in a steady, walking speed beat. Be sure the beat is steady.
Count 1,2,3,4,1,2,3,4,1,2,3,4 etc. while tapping your foot, on all the beats that your foot is tapping.
Now keeping the 1,2,3,4 in the same place, insert the word and in between them. You should be saying 1,&,2,&,3,&,4,&etc. This is two sub-divisions per beat.
Now insert syllables between them so that your foot is still tapping the 1,2,3,4, but you are counting 1,E,&,a,2,E,&,a,3,E,&,a,4,E&,a,etc. It should sound a little like an old fashioned wrist watch. You now have 4 subdivisions to the beat.
If you keep the placement of all the notes the same, and accent the 1 a,2 a,3 a,4 a, you get a beat that is the upper limit of the swing.
If you now count 1,a,ly,2,a,ly,3,a,ly,4,a,ly etc. you have three subdivisions to the beat.
By accenting the 1 ly,2 ly,3 ly,4, ly you have the lower limit of swing.
It is between the two examples. How much in between depends on the song and the people playing the song.

 Since the Music Dictionary defines swing with Duke Ellington , listen to Satin Doll, Perdido, Take The A Train, I Let A Song Go Out Of My Heart, I m Just A Lucky So And So, Love You Madly, etc. The basic beat's subdivision is the same swing.

Someone mentioned Benny Goodman, How About Sing, Sing, Sing? The beat is subdivided the same way I described.

Glenn Miller, In The Mood (here the melody itself is a classic example of the swing thing), Tuxedo Junction, Chattanooga Choo-Choo

Some one else mentioned Bop tunes. Most Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie tunes swing exactly as I described Conformation, Groovin. High, Ornithology,

Someone else mentioned the blues (Not usually considered a swing rhythm but it often does) St. James Infirmary, Baby What You Want Me To Do, Kansas City, Night Train (here again, the melody itself is a classic example of the swing thing).

In all these tunes if you clap your hands both on each beat and somewhere between 2/3 and 3/4 of the beat, you will not conflict with anything in the rhythm section because you will be swinging.

The professional level musical products, the swing bands, and other examples all support my original definition of swing. We cant all be wrong. If you want to use different terminology to describe the same thing, it is OK. If you want to subdivide the beat in any other way, you can still make music, but you wont be swinging.


Thanks for reading.

Robert

Last edited by onecooldrummer, 11/28/2010, 10:23 pm
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Adius Profile
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Swing in playing context


Great descriptions about swing and syncopations and I'd add some observations from experience that might apply. I'll ask for your forgiveness here in case this gets too preachy for you. Playing behind, on or in front of the beat gives texture to the tune (tension or laid back) but in doing so, you have to be rock solid with the tempo. That's just another element that contributes to swing. If the tempo changes too quickly, it can break up the timing of the rest of the band and take the sense of swing with it. Space and consistency in playing drums help develop the underlying spell where swing exists. I have to keep reminding myself that it's all about the tune, not the great fill that I think ill work. We drummers are usually the foundation of the groove - with our bass playing friends - and can throw it off the tracks so easily. Generally less is more from us. It gives space for the others to use. That said, playing fusion or something with a lot of fills is the hardest for me to do. If my chops are strong, I can do it but I have to split my awareness between the the overall feel, the riff and how I want to contribute the most with the least to the tune. I now leave that to you younger folk. So, there is the element of your skill level as it applies to what you're playing because if you can't deliver, it ain't gonna swing. That multiple level awareness has become more difficult as I age. I love it when I don't think and it just flows. Stating the obvious: If you're not nailed to the here and now, that is, keeping you awareness in the tune, you're in danger of losing it. Lacking that, the sense of swing will morph to choppy syncopations and the swing feel evaporates (voice of experience). You'll know if you're the cause from the looks you get from everyone. I learned long ago that ears are the most important part of playing and for me, to swing. And to that end, your relationship with the players is important simply because we don't swing alone, we swing together. There are micro adjustments that are made playing with long term music buddies. Sitting down to a session and reading a chart cold with strangers is the ultimate test in my mind. I need some practice takes to get to it. I am so impressed with those who bond in one take and make it sound like they've been together for years. I wish I could do that.

Here's a simple trick my old drum instructor gave me: If the band isn't pulling together - if you are right handed/footed. - focus on your left foot for tempo control, cut your BD beats by one-half and raise the BD volume. You can also go to quarter notes on the ride as long as you judge it to be needed. You don't have to fore warn your fellow musicians about it, in fact I think it's best that you don't. It creates space and seems to work quickly depending on your fellow musicians. Unfortunately it is exctly the opposite of my never-ending reflex to do more with the right foot ("Hmmm, maybe some 1/16th notes on the BD will get their attention...").
That last bit is just a long standing personal shortcoming so take that for what it's worth to you. Swing is like a really good piece of music regardless of genre, I can't define it exctly but I know it when I hear it or am in it and so does everyone else in the band. You know when you're in it and when you're not.

Bonus rant: If you can't hear everyone else in the band easily, you're too damn loud. Don't ask me how I learned that lesson.

So much for this thrip through the etherial. Sorry if it was confusing. This may have been more of a confession than advice. emoticon

Last edited by Adius, 7/30/2012, 7:41 am


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Adius
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