Secrets to swinging (not that sort)

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Zerozeddy, Nov 28, 2005.

  1. When I write stuff it always has a driving feel - i.e. I can do rock and funk fairly well. But I can't write things that swing properly. This either because I simply don't have a swing bone in my body*, or because I'm missing a trick... e.g. I automatically put an emphasis on the first beat of the bar, whereas jazzy rhythms might sound (erm) jazzier if you put that accent elsewhere.

    * being English and 35 and growing up with the likes of AC/DC, NWOBHM and favouring prog rock.
  2. EPrendergast


    Sep 23, 2005
    Wales, UK
    Funny problem - I was having a jam with a prog style guitarist the other day and he accused me of putting too much swing in.

    Listen to some Sinatra and Simone - Those double bass players make some interesting use of doublettes and missing out beats to get the body moving. They use tricks like dropping the 1 in certain bars and other swinging tricks... they add challenge and resolution in all sorts of interesting ways whilst still keeping it simple and holding down the track.
  3. AGCurry


    Jun 29, 2005
    Kansas City
    Yes, the best advice I can give is to listen - closely and a lot - to swing music.
  4. brake


    Jun 23, 2003
    Nova Scotia, Canada
    make friends with the 2 and the 4.
  5. teachbass


    Dec 13, 2004
    Listen to Glen Miller, Duke Ellington, Miles Davis and The Oscar Peterson Trio.

    Also....put foam underneathe the strings at the bridge to get the right decay. Foam does the trick everytime. A double bass has a quick decay and an electric bass has sustain that messes with the feel.
  6. AGCurry


    Jun 29, 2005
    Kansas City
    While the emphasis of the upbeats is present in a lot of swing music, it is not the characteristic which defines swing, and it doesn't really have much to do with playing bass in swing music, where you will want to maintain either a consistent attack across the beats (4-beat swing) or an emphasis on the downbeats (2- and 3-beat swing).
  7. WillBuckingham


    Mar 30, 2005
    Teachbass, I'm not sure I agree with you on the foam thing or the statement about upright bass. I don't think that you need to lessen your sustain to acheive more swing. I just saw James Singleton on Friday nite and he definitely gets more sustain out of his upright than a lot of electric players do, and he was definitely swinging hard.
  8. WalterBush


    Feb 27, 2005
    Yuma, Az
    The time "feel" is everything. Most swing has the bass player on top of the beat, pushing the drummer and the rest of the band, without rushing. I'm not sure if there's a science to it or not, but if your drummer can groove that way, it sounds and feels fantastic.
  9. teachbass


    Dec 13, 2004
    There are many ways to achieve "the sound" one hears on recordings and in our heads.

    The best way to swing is to listen to recordings that swing and then to play with people that swing.

    We can all agree on that.

    Have fun.
  10. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    In music nerd terms, swing feel is defined by a triplet. Playing the 1st and last notes of a quarter note triplet. That may given you some insight, other than that, it really is just a feel thing that cannot really be quantified.
  11. I agree completely about the feel of it, because to a sense that is the point to music and bass'.

    The best advice I can give you is to look at some videos from the above mentioned artists, and pay close attention to the bassists fingerwork in correlation to the rest of the band. Really listen to it and get a true feel for it via listening, but I myself best understand things by visualizing or playing with other people.

    Best of luck :smug:

    Edit: Sorry that post didn't seem to be directed to the right person and was unintentional. I'm... alittle preoccupied. This was intended towards the thread starter, Zerozeddy.
  12. groove100


    Jan 22, 2005
    listen to count basie orchestra...

    It also has a lot to do with listening to records, and listening to all the musicians when you are in playing or in jam situation.

    Even if you use such swing techniques as: the triplet feel, the "kick" or any rhythmic and melodic devices, If your feel is off or you play these devices in a wrong parts of the tune, i guess you swing less.

    But i want to emphasize that learning of such techniques mentioned above (or others not mentioned)

    Markus Huber
  13. EPrendergast


    Sep 23, 2005
    Wales, UK
    Is there a pattern for where to insert these quick double notes? When I'm going for the swing I just tend to pop them in where 'feels' right and it usually comes out sounding a-okay but it would be nice to know what's at work behind this intuition.
  14. If you were only going to use them on one beat in the bar, I would think the 4th would be the best option in many cases... but it certainly isn't a rule.
  15. bad_andy


    Sep 21, 2005
    Omaha, NE
    +1 on the sustain thing. Thomastik Spirocores are one of the most popular upright string sets out there for pizz players precisely because they have so much sustain. The bigger difference I notice with my upright vs my electrics is that when I play the upright the notes have more of a "bloom" and that it opens slightly after the attack. This tends to make the notes lay just behind the beat naturally.

    As far as the foam trick goes for imitating upright sounds on an electric, I've always hand more luck with using right hand palm muting, combined with my thumb for plucking, combined with playing a note on the heaviest string possible for a darker sound (i.e. playing open A on the 10th fret of the B string of a 5 or 6 string bass).
  16. teachbass


    Dec 13, 2004
    I do agree with you that the thumb/ palm muting works good up until a certain tempo for me.

    The bloom that the spirocores gives is nice.
    Especially for ballads. It also has to do with string height and sound concept. I prefer the sound of "boom boom boom" to "dah
    dah dah dah" when walking. You can get that on any bass/string. Just might have to work harder.

    The foam (not too much) will give the bass the right initial punch and the "sort" of sustain that gut strings would give on a double bass. Walking at 180-260 bpm I'll use the foam and every one in the band notices the difference. I can see why Leo Fender designed the precision bass with flats and foam bridge mute.

    If you play a lot of swing and have to do it on a electric...
    You might want to experiment with this....
    or maybye not.