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Teaching someone to swing 8ths

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by sworkman, Dec 24, 2011.

  1. sworkman


    Nov 24, 2011
    I'll try to keep it short: I've got a friend who plays cello and who's getting into jazz and he's got mad chops but he's clueless when it comes to feeling anything but straight 8ths. Any suggestions on how to help him?
  2. _chrispy


    Jul 20, 2011
    he needs to listen to more jazz and explain how it can be felt in a 12/8 time.
  3. kingtc


    Jun 4, 2011
    It may be easier for a classical player to think of it as an eighth note triplet with the first two notes tied. Tell him when practising to set the metronome to half tempo and count beats two and four, which creates more of a swung feel. Of course listening to lots of recordings helps too
  4. f.c.geil


    May 12, 2011
    Another way to explain is that it is a heartbeat. There's a reason Huey Lewis called it the "Heart of Rock and Roll."
  5. anonymous02282011

    anonymous02282011 Guest

    Jun 27, 2007

  6. iiipopes

    iiipopes Supporting Member

    May 4, 2009
    With a tenuto mark under the first of the three eighth notes in the triplet. Remember, going in, you have to speak his language to get him to come over to yours.

    Also, have him study the French baroque "notes inégales" as it is basically (pun intended) the same thing.
  7. Make your friend sing/hum the music first. I had trouble learning to swing eights until my instructor made me start singing blues scales. Once I had the singing down, I would sing and play the scale. Just an idea.
  8. ms1369


    Feb 16, 2008
    chicago burbs
    Hal Garper's book Forward Motion can be very good for helping to hear and feel lines in a different way. Alot of good practice idea's to force your mind to swing.
  9. eee


    Jan 17, 2009
    Man, listening! And it's not just 12/8....swing 8ths are straighter than you think.
  10. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    How would you get someone who has fluently read French to actually speak it? Have them actively listen to people who have spoken French all their lives and then speak with them directly.
    If it were me, I'd get them a bunch of Prez solos and get them to sing along with them, first at half tempo, then at full tempo. At half tempo, get them to match all the nuances - legato, staccato, dynamics, vibrato, ghost notes, EVERYTHING. Then do the same at full tempo. THEN pick up the instrument and play the notes that they are singing.

    They do that for three or four Prez solos, the won't have to worry about "thinking" about what a swing feel is.
  11. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    Not that I'm turning into a Mike Longo fan boy or something, but he said something like 'Jazz can't be 'learned', it has to be experienced' (paraphrasing).
  12. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    +1 and doo-de-la doo-de-la doo-de-la doo-de-la doo-de-la
  13. iiipopes

    iiipopes Supporting Member

    May 4, 2009
    And now, a completely different approach to learning to transition from "classical" straight-8th to swing-8th, using literary quotes:

    "To be is to do."
    Jean Paul Sartre:
    "To do is to be."
    "To be, or not to be...."
    "Doo-bee, doo-bee do."
  14. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    First you will need a beret. some very dark round sunglasses, some French cigarettes, and some Kerouac.
  15. iiipopes

    iiipopes Supporting Member

    May 4, 2009
    Or Pernod Anise or Absinthe, or if that's a little too intense, Campari or Cointreau....
  16. PocketGroove82


    Oct 18, 2006
    I absolutely agree with the listening, transcribing/singing along, mimicry, and internalizing type advice mentioned here. Recently, I was turned onto another exercise that may help some students understand the subject from another angle: analyzing exactly what a a pair of swung 8th notes actually is.

    This past year, when comping in an improv class for 15 different soloists on different instruments it was interesting to hear that some people were playing relatively straight 8ths , others were doing that whole "two tied eight note triplets then a single eight note triplet", and others were swinging somewhere in between.

    If true swing resides somewhere in the indefinable space between straight 8s (50%/50%) and the incorrect 8th note triplet pattern (66.66%/33.33%), written at the top of many well meaning swing charts, then learning to sing/play alternating between the two styles with a metronome or drum machine helps to illustrate the outer perimeters of the style. Just sing or play a stream of eighth notes on a single pitch or scale for a period of time, switching back and forth between the two feels. After the perimeters are internalized, the ultimate goal of the exercise is to find that space between the two (it's a fine line) and develop your own individual swing feel, cultivate it, and maintain awareness as not to slip back into the other feels, unless, of course, it's a conscious choice. It's very basic, but it can help one find that even swung 8th feel that's elusive and impossible to write out.

    Does anyone have a .pdf of that chart that analyzes mathematically how many of the great players swing ever so differently?
  17. MR PC

    MR PC Banned

    Dec 1, 2007
    Tom Waits called it Searching for the Heart of Saturday Night. But you'd be better off taking Ed's advice and listening to Lester Young.
  18. Les Fret

    Les Fret

    Sep 9, 2009
    Yes, my first teacher told me that my swung eights were too much like a triplet with a tied first note. He told me that they need to be more straight. In books they always tell you to play it like the triplet. You almost never read that you play somewhere in between the triplet en the straight eights.
    (Pockergroove82 has pointed this out very well)

    Also I think the higher the tempo the more straight the eight notes become.
  19. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    Hey how about this: Get a jazz teacher! Jazz DB teacher should suffice.
  20. iiipopes

    iiipopes Supporting Member

    May 4, 2009
    A third way to learn to swing: find a left-handed drummer who plays a kit right handed. He will have a natural shuffle very akin to swing, as the off-hand is what is keeping time on the ride cymbal. Have you cello friend try to play straight 8ths on his cello with his hands reversed: have him hold the cello on his left side, and try to stop a note with his right hand while playing straight 8ths with the bow with his left. I would bet the next cup of coffee they won't be even, and have him take note of that (pun intended).

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