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Swing questions

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Pthump, May 14, 2005.


  1. Pthump

    Pthump

    Nov 18, 2004
    I play in the school jazz band. At the last cotnest we went to, we took first place, but the person who was running our clinic gave me some weird advice. He told me to play each note longer in swing style tunes, I've been taught to keep them short and with the hi-hat. He also told me to pluck harder, which is also contrary to what I've been taught. Any opinions?
     
  2. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    Listen to your teacher - long tones, with a firm attack.
     
  3. battousai

    battousai

    Sep 3, 2004
    Nashville, TN
    I've been given tons of weird of advice when I was in school. I think many band directors are only trained in wind instruments and percussion and they don't know how to deal with the bass guitar or double bass, so they tend to act like they know what they are talking about.

    When it comes to swing, long notes are what to play.
     
  4. He was telling you to dig in more. so you will be ever so slightly behind the beat. In being slightly behind the beat you actually sound better than if you were right on the beat.
     
  5. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    No, no no! Swing is played ahead of the beat, not behind it. (At least, if you want to actually swing.)

    Second piece of advice: Listen to as much jazz and swing as you can.
     
  6. Yes that was my mistake, got a little confused there. I was thinking of something else.
     
  7. a. meyer

    a. meyer

    Dec 10, 2004
    portland, oregon
    You should also practice walking lines with the metronome set to click on 2 and 4. This will make you push the 2nd and 4th beats ever so slightly, which is what swing is all about. If all notes are the same, then there's no pulse.
     
  8. slybass3000

    slybass3000 Banned

    Nov 5, 2004
    Montréal,Qc,Canada
    One other thing, Tap your foot on 2&4 AND play with the ride cymbal which should be a little ahead . Good Luck
    SB
     
  9. Listen to the greats and check out there note durations esp. when it is swinging ie: P.C or Ron Carter
     

  10. +1

    Also, Milt Hinton and the great Ray Brown.
     
  11. lowphatbass

    lowphatbass ****

    Feb 25, 2005
    west coast
    5{\0\0\0\0\0\0\0\0yer]You should also practice walking lines with the metronome set to click on 2 and 4. This will make you push the 2nd and 4th beats ever so slightly, which is what swing is all about. If all notes are the same, then there's no pulse.[/QUOTE]
    I strongly disagree with this statement. Metronome=good idea
    "pushing" any beats=not a good idea!!!!!!

    Pushing 2 and 4 or 1 and 3 is something that beginning bassists will do to "simulate" swing, DON'T start this habit. Pushing or accenting the up-beats is something that soloists will do when playing 8TH NOTES.
    Generally the thing you should be listening to is the Hi-Hat, make your quarter notes as long and even as you can. Think of yourself as the Wheels that the car(the jazz band) is riding on. Most would agree that your "pulse" is more important than the notes you are playing. Don't get me wrong, they are both important, but most jazz educators would rather hear you hit a wrong note or two than drop time, have poor time(rush or drag) or push 2 and 4...

    Later on you will come across certain musical situations where pushing certain beats on a walking 1/4 note bass line may be o.k., or even good, but let this happen naturally, this is not something that should be "practiced", IMO!
     
  12. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    So to sum up, play long short tones with a loose firm attack, play behind, in front of, and right on the beat, and push the 1 and 3 and the 2 and 4 but don't push the 2 and 4 and 1 and 3.

    And for your next note...
     
  13. See, now that's just going to confuse the lad....
    The trick is never to play behind, in front of, and right on the beat at the same time.

    Randy
     
  14. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    LO FAT BASE - my man.

    Swing is as much about note choice as it is rhythmic placement. You can make a line swing even if all you are doing is playing quarter notes dead in the center of beat, as long as you are choosing notes that propels the harmony forward. As others have said
    1. LISTEN LISTEN LISTEN - hear what the language sounds like
    2. DIG DEEP - when you hear something that makes you want to move/dance TAKE THE LINE OFF (transcribe) and see what's happening, why is the bassist playing that line at that moment in time.
    3. PRACTICE PLAYING TIME -metronome. play walking lines over form by yourself. Try this - set the nome to quarternote= 60bpm, play a chorus of just apreggios of the changes. If it's a triad play 1 3 5 octave. Try to maintain some sense of "proximity" by using inversions.
    EXAMPLE - ii V I in C, instead of arpeggiating all from the root ( DFAG GBDF CEGB) use root, 2nd inv, root (DFAG DFGB CEGB). See how you only change two notes of each chord, moving from chord to chord?. After your "arp" chorus, play a chorus of quarter notes of your choice walking through the changes. PAY ATTENTION. You want to maintain both a sense of the harmony (vertical playing) AND a sense of forward melodic momentum (horizontal playing) in the line.
    Alternate arp choruses and improv choruses for 4 or 5 minutes on each tune.
    4. LEARN MELODIES - yes even bassists can benefit from learning the melody to a tune. You get to the point where you can hear the melody AND hear the changes (by playing them arpeggiated, right?) in your head at the same time, coming up with a walking quarter note line that "fits" and makes some kind of sense ain't so hard.
    5. PRACTICE PLAYING TIME MORE -if you can get together with your drummer, do a couple of things. Play tunes, you play the melody, walk a few choruses, play the melody out. But also try the exercise from #3 and have the drummer JUST PLAY QUARTER NOTES on the ride cymbal. You get a good, solid, logical quarter note line hooked up with the drummer's ride, you get that sucker to dance, you can swing a band full of dead people. THAT'S gonna be the rock your church is built on. No matter how lost or unfocused or loud or whatever the **** gets, you and the drummer drop back down to that locked in quarter note, it's going to have a calming AND revitalizing affect on teh band and the music.
     
  15. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    I think between my message and Ed Fuqua's, that's all you need to know about swing. People who make definitive statements about how to play it one way in every situation aren't really taking into account that the situations might be different. There's a huge difference between the swing of "Take The A Train" and the swing of "Jump, Jive 'n' Wail," so Ed is right...study the music and play accordingly based on examples of the stuff that works the best.

    My first post may have been a joke post, but there was a lot of truth to it ;)
     
  16. lowphatbass

    lowphatbass ****

    Feb 25, 2005
    west coast
    Did you say playing quarter notes in the dead center of the beat? I thought so.
    My point here was aiming for the center of the beat is what Pthump should be doing, not accenting or pushing any specific beats.
    I've got to stand behind my comments regarding good time being more important than note selection, but/and I absolutely agree with your comments on the melodic movement of the bass line supporting and "propelling" the groove forward!!
    I did not mean to intend that note selection was not important.
    In the context of a high school jazz band, more often than not the bass lines are given, generally the bass player is not reading "changes", also a bassists with poor time will, IMO, detract more from the feel and groove than a bassist with poor intonation or note selection.
    In short: both are important but sacraficing time for notes, rythym for melody, in this situation is not a good trade-off.
     
  17. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Perhaps I should have been more clear.

    LO PHAT - my man. = THANK GOD SOMEBODY ****ING SAID "PUSHING ANY BEATS=NOT A GOOD IDEA".

    And then by leaving a big space, I was going on with MY discourse about playing swing. Adding to, not disagreeing with what you said.

    Clear? Cool? Cool.
     
  18. lowphatbass

    lowphatbass ****

    Feb 25, 2005
    west coast
    I feel much, much better Ed!!
    Thanks!
     
  19. my quick .02, being a highschool jazz band player too. all of my directors, when I first started, told me to emphasize the 2 and 4. It didnt matter if we were playing a shuffle, a fast swing, or a slow blues. Once you get that feel down, you can change how you play. For example, we have a song written in the style of count basie. It's pretty fast, but its straight quarter notes for me. after getting the 2 and 4 feel down, i added in 8th/16th notes on the 1 and 3, on random measures, and it sounded pretty swinging.
     
  20. We can derive the correct mathematical formulas to define swing and give them to you. You wouldn't swing any better.

    You have to listen to it, a LOT of it, and imitate the feel. That's the only way to get swing. Or any groove or genre, actually. Its not describable in words.

    Randy