Swing Feel & Science

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by matthewbrown, Jan 31, 2020.

  1. Carl Hillman

    Carl Hillman

    Jan 1, 2010
    So, not only will practicing with a metronome NOT kill your swing feel, it'll actually make you more swinging.

    It's always nice to know that science™ supports my biased assumptions! :smug:
  2. Assuming that practicing with a metronome will make you play swing in a more strict way.
  3. The flaws in that study IMO were
    - all three version were manipulated. They didn’t provide a control (ie the original unadulterated version).
    - if the bass/drums were on the beat, then the quantised version would sound more “in sync” with the backing track, biasing that sample group.
    matthewbrown likes this.
  4. statsc

    statsc Supporting Member

    Apr 23, 2010
    Burlington, VT
    There certainly is a place for science; this isn’t it!
    jamro217 likes this.
  5. Did you read the study or just the abstract?
  6. AGCurry

    AGCurry Supporting Member

    Jun 29, 2005
    St. Louis
    Rather than manipulating the "microtiming" of a piece, why not have listeners rate the "swingfulness" of several pieces and then analyze how each piece deviated from exact quantization?

    Of course, all this brings to mind Elmer Fudd in a white coat, with a magnifying glass. There are infinite variations to swing, and each brings something different to the ear and hips.
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  7. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol

    Daniel Humair spent years studying this and putting swing into equations. He wrote books about it too.
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  8. lowphatbass

    lowphatbass **** Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2005
    west coast
    I may be wrong(as usual) but I’d say simple note selection has some influence on how “hard” something swings...not to mention what, when and how every musician on stage is playing and how that all interacts.
    This is way more complex than tempo, IMO.
  9. I read the link.
  10. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Gold Supporting Member

    - in the same tune
    - the same section
    - the same measure/phrase
    - among multiple players
    - between any two players at the same time

    i like the use of the term "microtiming" but to micro-time with scientific/mathematical precision to 'test' anything related to swing = bogus. YMMV.

    it ain't got that swing if it's got that scientific thing!
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  11. One thing that even the most advanced scientific knowledge has never managed to do: Remove the mystery from life. That's equally true of musical expression. No amount of scientific investigation can remove the mystery from that. Still, no harm in advancing the frontiers of knowledge, I think.
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  12. This way of thinking about it is basically trying pull fried eggs out of french toast. It doesn't work like that. It is about the core recipe!
    You have to work from a two-dimensional basis of 3 and 4 at the same time - not 3 over 4 - 3 and 4 equally. When you can fluidly move between 3, 4, 6, 12 ect. in a walking line as well perceive the 3, 6, 12 while playing 4 quarter notes you are part of the way there.
    After that you need to play with other musicians who swing.
    oren and Sam Sherry like this.
  13. Too bad the musical examples were not provided, to hear.
    matthewbrown likes this.
  14. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011
    Skilled soloists use back phrasing, so they may intentionally push or pull time to emphasize the swing feel.

    Also swing feel is not fixed from song to song. Some songs have a loose swing feel that is pretty much straight triplet 8th notes, and some are really tight; almost like a double dotted 1/4 and 16th note.

    The other aspect that gets wadded up with swing feel is "the pocket." If the feel has a wide pocket and the swing is super relaxed, most bands can't hold time in one place.

    I have played Freckle Face with several really good bands and most of them have struggled to not drag. The common problem is people seem to think they simply need to play behind the beat, but that's not quite right. There has to be a certain rhythmic tension (the pocket), and the swing feel also has to have a certain tension. Perhaps some back phrasing is required as well, as you have to make up time somewhere. What I have typically seen happen is the saxes in the soli get progressively further behind the beat, and this either drags time down or everything falls apart.

    ...and it's sounds like such a simple tune.

    Last edited: Feb 1, 2020
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  15. Not to say that I disagree, but scientific analysis is...analysis. It means breaking things down into parts to understand the data. Again, I don't think that scientists can come up with a formula for swing, but the data and analysis can give some insight into how swing works as a performance phenomenon, without necessarily giving an understanding of HOW IT'S DONE.
  16. oren

    oren Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2007
    Salem, OR
    I’m not on sure ground here, but I believe that there are many different ways to swing. The elements that made Louis Armstrong swing can be very different from what made Coltrane swing, and different from what makes Maria Grande swing. It also seems to me that swing is somewhat of a subjective judgement. You and I may agree that a given performance swings hard, or we may not.

    Given that, it seems that once a specific performance is identified as swinging by someone(s), it is then possible to describe characteristics of that performance that might contribute to that - the drummer played right on the beat while the bass pushed it, or whatever. And that might be useful information when comparing different kinds of swinging performances, at least intellectually.

    But no description will ever be as wonderful as listening to Art Blakey dig into a shuffle.
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  17. dhergert

    dhergert Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 17, 2018
    Blue Zone, California
    Technology, and via that, science, can in a very focused study analyze how swing was done in certain discrete samples. That might help some people who want to do it. But because there are so many variations and because a part of the equation is emotional response, science cannot analyze how swing has always been done, nor really can it explain how to do it.

    As has been mentioned, the best way to learn how to swing is to do it with people who know how. Swing is very contagious.

    Edit: For me, often the more important question is how to not swing.
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2020
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  18. GutJazz


    Mar 5, 2019
    Roma - Italy
    What I get from that study is that a "regular" timing (no matter if before or after the beat) is felt more swinging than others, and it's not hard to trust for me
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  19. pdbass


    Jan 2, 2007
    reviving this thread...

    I think we need to consider many elements: time, note choice, accents, note length, emotion, but also subdivision...which I just so happen to touch on here:

    Chad Michael likes this.