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more questions on swing

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Howard K, Oct 22, 2003.


  1. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    UK
    Right, just warming up/setting levels at the gig last night and the drummer and I were just playing some swinging stuff.. I'm just ambling (very appoximatley and amateurish :( ) over a few chords on the bass and he's playing "that jazz feel", the ride, the hat, little up-beat accents on the snare etc... you know what I mean.

    Now, I'm playing quarter notes with the odd accent, which, generally, makes up the VAST majority of jazz walkin lines, and I can FEEL the swing.
    I know it's there because I can feel it and a I can hear it... obvioulsy I'm pretty darned far from a 'real' jazz bassist and I'm sure my swing is pretty rudimentary, but nevertheless I can feel it.
    ...but I'm just playing quarters?

    So I say to the drummer "how come some players have a problem with swing, we're playing now and I can feel the swing, it's definitley there"

    To which he replies "yeah, but I'm swinging while you're playing straight quarters.. the drums swing and the bass plays straight"

    Now,I dont think that's right - even jazz bass playing 4 to the bar swings surley?

    I can feel the difference, there is still a feel that I cant describe - I'm pushing into the 2 and 4 along with the ride.

    I was just confused. You dont have to play accents or skips to swing do you?

    A bass line can swing just playing 4 to the bar, is that right?
     
  2. thrash_jazz

    thrash_jazz

    Jan 11, 2002
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Artist: JAF Basses, Circle K Strings
    Sure it can.

    There are perhaps people here who can describe it better, but I believe swing "feel" is about playing each note legato, and playing eighths with a tied-triplet feel.

    I don't know where your drummer got that from. Was that his description of swing in general, or what you were doing at that point?

    If you're worried that your quarters aren't swinging, practice them to a metronome. If you can make that dry "click" sound like it's swinging, you've got it...
     
  3. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    Think of it as a triplet with the first two notes tied.

    The note on the beat is twice as long as the one on the offbeat.
     
  4. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    UK
    There are perhaps people here who can describe it better, but I believe swing "feel" is about playing each note legato, and playing eighths with a tied-triplet feel.

    >> Yes, hence the feel of pushing into beats 2 and 4. It makes sense.

    Was that his description of swing in general, or what you were doing at that point?

    >>> I'm not 100% sure, but I think it was his view in general... and I think he is wrong.

    I said at the time, "No I'm not playing straight, there's a feel there". Straight quarters feel vastly differnt from swung quarters.
    ..and I know damned well it was swinging! You 'know' when you 'know' dont you?!
    I've been playing long enough to feel a groove when I'm playing one! :)

    Re: the metronome, yes, i shall try that tonight. i mean playing with the jazz ride is pretty easy - and mid tempo at least - making an emotionless click swing, yeah, that's a test alright.
     
  5. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    UK
    thanks JMX - I've heard about about a zillion different descriptions of swing in notation terms, all of which are "almost right" - that's the quandry I guess :)

    My point really was that the drummer was saying that "the swing" came from the drums and that the bass just played straight..
    nevertheless, i thought he was wrong and i did tell him so, i just couldnt back it up with anything of substance!
     
  6. metron

    metron Fluffy does not agree

    Sep 12, 2003
    Lakewood Colorado
    I would say that trying to define "swing" is somewhat elusive. Ray Brown could play quarter notes all day and swing with the best. Swinging can be straight quaters without a doubt. Tossing in triplets and eighths in places with quarters can swing too. Whole notes and half notes will swing too with fast music. To me swinging is a mental pendulum going back and forth. Playing close to good time will not necessarily swing though. Rufus Reid (in his book) talks about playing with confidence and conviction and thats necessary to make the music swing. It is more of a feel as opposed to certain note selection.
     
  7. metron

    metron Fluffy does not agree

    Sep 12, 2003
    Lakewood Colorado
    yeeeeah no. bass must swing!!! i play in an acoustic duo and I swing/groove whatever. its feeling the music... thats what its all about. your drummer friend is slightly misinformed.

    :bassist: <-- this guy is swinging! :D
     
  8. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    UK
    OK, went home, got out the metronome and asked played to it... the Mrs came downstairs (basement) to ask which baked potato I wanted for lunch (do you need to know this?!)

    So, I asked her "Is this swinging?" and played to the click.

    She said "yes, definitely".

    Mr Mrs does not play any musical instrument to any real degree, so she's a listener - which is probably the best test IMO. A jazzer will to the degree of swing and have much deeper, ore predjudiced knowledge, but a listener will just sayd "yes" or "no".

    anyway, I asked "how do you know it's swinging" and she said - probably the best answer I have ever heard - "cause you can click your fingers to it like this" and proceeded to click her fingers like you do when something swings (you KNOW what I mean!)

    Brilliant! Why didnt I think of that?!

    :)
     
  9. JimK

    JimK

    Dec 12, 1999
    That's an approximation(which looks good on paper).
    IMO, the 'magic' is more than the math of the thing.
    ;)
     
  10. JimK

    JimK

    Dec 12, 1999

    Sometimes, you will hear certain bassists playing 'it' more straight...right now, I'm thinking Dave Holland's swing is more 'straight' than, say, Ray Brown's.

    Swing can also be defined as 'playing with constant tempo'.

    Howard-
    The skips are a device to break things up; learn a few of the classic ones & when/where to use them.
    ...don't be put off if you need to use OPEN strings, too.
     
  11. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    UK
    cheers Jim - you know, it's odd, cause pretty much all of what has been said on here I already knew... but when my dummer.. I mean drummer (freudian or what?!), said what he said I questioned my knowledge, simply because he's a very experienced and talented musician, not just a good drummer as it happens.

    I guess I just needed confirmation from others.

    thanks
    H
     
  12. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    Yes, like with all notation.
     
  13. wulf

    wulf

    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    I think there's a portion of 'swing' which exists only as the sound of the whole band blends together. For example, you could play a metronomically precise succession of crotchets against the jazzy drummer and the whole thing would 'swing'. If you recorded that and then substituted the drum track with a metronomically precise simple rock beat on a drum machine, exactly the same bassline might not swing at all. Likewise, if you listened to the original drum track without the bass nailing the pulse, it might also not reach the same level of toe-tapping swing.

    In practise, the bassline may sound consistent but need not even be metronomically precise for every beat, as you play around with being on, ahead of or behind the beat. Playing live, you're interacting with the other musicians and 'swing' happens. I suspect (although I've not tried it) that if you took two groups of jazz musicians playing the same written parts to a reference metronome tempo, both would swing but you might loose that if you tried to mix and match tracks from the two performances - even with the bass player laying down exactly the same simple line, it might work with the original drum part and clash with the alternative one!

    I wonder if anyone could try this out to verify my theory?

    Wulf
     
  14. Slot

    Slot

    Oct 17, 2003
    Sydney - The Shire
    The drummer was right in the sense that you're not "technically" swinging the crotchets........But it sounds like a fairly ignorant and uneducated statement if you ask me.

    Btw ...just a tip if you were wanting to practise your walking basslines. Set the metronome so it only clicks on 2 & 4. It may take a bit to get used to, but you will be able to capature the essence of the feel alot better than you would if you had the clicks placed on the down beats.
     
  15. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    UK
    Well, igtnorant and uneductaed he is definitley not, but the staement might well be.

    please elaborate - how was i not "not "technically" swinging the crotchets" if there is no technical definition of swing?

    I mean, if you cant put swing into words - and we all seem to agree you cant adeqately describe swing using standard musical terms - how can you say I was not technically swinging?

    So, what is technically swing in your opinion?

    Not being picky, but what you've said seems to contradict what else is being said?

    cheers
    H :)
     
  16. Slot

    Slot

    Oct 17, 2003
    Sydney - The Shire
    Sorry if i came across as patronising in anyway, that wasnt the intention....

    I'll try and explain what i mean...

    If you were to record yourself playing a walking line with ZERO fills, just straight crotchets, and then turn down any kind of back beat in the mix so all you can hear is the crotchets.....you could say that they are just straight crotchets.....

    Like, if you had your drummer then set up a 4/4 groove, and you dropped your quaverless walking line into the mix, it would no longer be technically classified as swing.......yet its the exact same thing that you were playing in the swing pattern

    This is only a very "text book" example though ......because 99% of bassplayers would never play just straight crotchets without any kind of improv'd fills............The second you even play the quietest of dead notes proceeding into the next beat, you're line will immediately becomes swung because you're implying the underlining triplet pulse...


    ........Hey man, i agree with you that straight crotchets can feel swung, and ARE swung(its a mind set)...........But if you were to never imply the underlining triplet pulse, someone could "technically" say that you are playing straight ................They would deserve a very funny look if they were to say it though IMO
     
  17. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I'm not sure that's true at all - I've heard many Jazz 'greats' - - DB'ers playing strictly four quarter notes per bar on recordings - for whole albums and even in live peformances.

    Ask that question on the DB side!! ;)
     
  18. Slot

    Slot

    Oct 17, 2003
    Sydney - The Shire
    true... I blew wind with that statement........I bet their drummers didnt think they were playing straight though...

    If you can hear the triplet, you're swingin'....
     
  19. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    UK
    No, no not at all, tis cool :)

    This is what my drummer was saying, but I disagree. I think that straight quarters are straight, whereas when you play with a swing feel there is a noticable but intangible difference. Hence you can make a click swing.


    Ys, technically in terms of notation, but there is a difference - "the swing" :D

    This is what I tried when I asked the Mrs to listen to what I was playing and tell me if it was swinging. I played straight, Sabbath style quarters straight as you like - no swing, then I played a sinple blues lines, four to the bar, as swung as I could make it, with no accents. She definitley noticed the difference.

    Yes, I agree, but the swing is more than the presence of a triplet note preceding the beat. It's a feel that is there regardless of any accents.
    Also, you could play a dead note, or a triplet or whatever preceding the beat and still not be swinging.


    Yeah, and he'll get some funny looks at the gig tonight I assure you!

    cheers :)
    H