Degree of swing

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
Comments about Tony Royster Jr's spot on Letterman:

No sense of swing at all
He does have a sense of swing but it's that swung 16th hip-hop feel rather than a jazz swung 8th feel. It's actually very interesting to watch.
Here's where the spang-a-lang comes in: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AF8JAYEGi4I#t=65s

I probably have cloth ears but I didn't notice anything off. A bit heavier for jazz than I'd have liked in spots but that's all.

Ben, with that "swung 16th hip-hop feel" are you saying that it's a bit straighter - less swung - like the half straight/half shuffle feel Ringo used to play at times?

Who here explores part-swung feels?
 
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sticks4drums

Guest
I think the tempo at which the piece is played dictates to some extent the amount of swing you can apply to the piece. I went back and listened to his playing again and thought he did a great job with the feel for the pace of the piece. He is a very talented young man. He got my foot tapping.
 
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mediocrefunkybeat

Guest
Ok, I'm going to answer this with an example of what really swings.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_JChB1KjX4M

Can you hear the difference? It's not necessarily in the cymbal tone but it's in the blending of the notes. If you listen to Elvin's ride cymbal, you hear a forward-pushing part that is relaxed enough to gently urge the soloists towards greater momentum. The timing is fluid and there is great variation in how he's playing the cymbal - rarely is he playing it quite the same way twice. He's adding colour from his bass drum, hi-hat and snare as well as different parts of his sticks and all of that is gently urging the piece forward.

The whole thing has a beautiful elegance to it. It's the fluidity of his right hand that's really driving the piece.

Contrast that with Royster and although the ride cymbal doesn't help, it sounds like he's just playing the notes. The swing feel is more disrupted and although he's actually playing fewer notes there is a lot less 'space' in what he's playing because it's being tightly controlled and not allowed to really push anything.
 
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sticks4drums

Guest
Hey Duncan. Really trying to hear the difference but that darn sax guy is way too loud. :) Honestly I really like Tony's feel better but maybe that is because I am a rock guy and can't appreciate the loose jazz feel. I can listen to jazz but it has to be tighter like the way Tony and the band played it. Tony's cymbal was not as washy and was also easier to pick up. Just my 2 cents. Thanks for trying to help us see the difference.
 

Mark_S

Silver Member
I can't listen right now as I'm at work, but when I listened on Monday night to me it felt like he was being led rather than leading during the spang-a-lang bit, if that makes sense, kinda sluggish almost. I'm a complete novice when it comes to jazz so I could be talking rubbish, but that's how it felt compared to some of the great jazz players that I've heard.

However, despite that I found Tony's performance amazing, thoroughly enjoyed it.
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
Ok, I'm going to answer this with an example of what really swings.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_JChB1KjX4M

Can you hear the difference? It's not necessarily in the cymbal tone but it's in the blending of the notes. If you listen to Elvin's ride cymbal, you hear a forward-pushing part that is relaxed enough to gently urge the soloists towards greater momentum. The timing is fluid and there is great variation in how he's playing the cymbal - rarely is he playing it quite the same way twice. He's adding colour from his bass drum, hi-hat and snare as well as different parts of his sticks and all of that is gently urging the piece forward.

The whole thing has a beautiful elegance to it. It's the fluidity of his right hand that's really driving the piece.

Contrast that with Royster and although the ride cymbal doesn't help, it sounds like he's just playing the notes. The swing feel is more disrupted and although he's actually playing fewer notes there is a lot less 'space' in what he's playing because it's being tightly controlled and not allowed to really push anything.
There's stuff going over my head here, D. I'd like to break things down a bit.

How about the swing itself? Not the choice of notes or sound but the actual degree of bounce. They say a good jazzer can swing quarters on the ride - just time and dynamics.I'm hearing the bounce in TRJ's playing but not the upbeat accents like Art has (the Trane tune is a bit pacey for me to dissect). Am I hearing it right?
 

MLdrum

Senior Member
To me Tony Royster Jr. sounds like a hiphoper, while Elvin Jones sounds like a jazzer.
And I think it's all in how the quarter notes "swing". Tony Royster Jr.'s riding sounds a
bit flat, or maybe artificial/synthetic. And Elvin Jones's riding is more sort of organic.
More highs and lows. More flowing and driving.

In short: Tony swings like a rock, and Elvin like a running river (-x


...and yes...
I like using metaphors to characterize a groove/swing...
 
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mediocrefunkybeat

Guest
'Like a running river'. That is a fantastic way of describing Elvin's feel in that clip I posted.

There's not really that much to really dissect Pol. It's a sense of changing momentum or of fluidity. In fact, even the potential for fluidity if the actual feel is static. If we just take that clip I posted up earlier as an example, you can hear Elvin clearly working around a basic pattern (that changes, but keeps the same pulse) and blending in disparate elements.

There's also different weighting on each individual note. Listen for the ride accents and you'll hear that there's a constant accent on the first note of his 'swing' pattern. That remains fairly constant when he's playing the pattern and you can hear that it's driving the rest of the band. It's perfectly possible to get the same effect by just playing crotchets (quarters) if you accent and blend in the same way - but the blend is important. The notes have to 'run' into each other to create that kind of fluidity and technically that involves relaxation of the hand and forearm as well as confidence in what you're doing.

It's possible to 'fake it' but you'll never sound convincing because knowing exactly how to blend that ride cymbal is what really matters and that's a matter of practice and experience.

The other way is to aggressively 'drive' with power. I'll get onto that later...

And by no means am I an expert. I'll happily say that my playing sucks and that I can't do half of what I'm talking about convincingly.
 

jon e rotten

Senior Member
I can't watch the Elvin clip at work, but I did watch some of John Riley's videos on up tempo ride patterns, and honestly I don't here much difference between what Tony and John play. I don't, however, think Tony's snare tone lends itself to the 'swing' at all.
 

wsabol

Gold Member
There is also a huge rift in feel of not only how you play, but what you play. In hip-hop and rock drumming, the backbeat and kick is really what carry the tune. In jazz, the time, groove, and feel are all centered around the ride and hi hat. the drums are just there for ornamentation.

I think Tony's real down fall, and the down fall of a lot of drummers who try to go from rock to jazz, is this complete change of focus from the drums to the cymbals. Tony's playing isn't bad jazz playing, but when you are used to placing the groove around the drums its hard to change gears and groove with cymbals while keeping time and using the drums to accent and comp. Tony really just feels out of place. To me, it felt the same way Neil Peart did in the buddy rich tribute concerts.
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
Ben, with that "swung 16th hip-hop feel" are you saying that it's a bit straighter - less swung - like the half straight/half shuffle feel Ringo used to play at times?

Who here explores part-swung feels?
Me!

There are two dimensions to examine: spacing and dynamics. I'll stay away from loosely defined terms like groove or feel.

No, Royster's spacing is very close (if not exactly) a triplet swing, with no in-between feel whatsoever -- a pure "One, Two (trip) Let Three, Four (trip) Let One...". Although he varies the ride cymbal pattern a bit (as he should), if he were to simply play a regular spang-a-lang, the 2 and 4 are intense, and the "let-1" and "let-3" are played evenly, and more quietly (watch the stick heights).

Elvin's swing is, of course, more nuanced, but also completely different in both spacing and dynamics. The the "swing note" is spaced past the triplet, approaching a dotted eighth spacing, so there is an "in between swing (triplets) and straight (16ths here, not 8ths). Dynamically, the "swing note" is almost always played more loudly than the note after it, at times even louder than the 2 or 4. In Elvin's "typical spang-a-lang", the 1 and 3 are the quietest beats, but they are also spaced to great effect!

Pol, you mention Ringo's lopey rock beat feel. Here's Steve Jordan doing that same thing, but better!
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
The way he plays his ride is OK- it's kind of MOR big band, pretty squarely on the triplet. He puts those cymbal accents on the &s in kind of a funny spot- they fall on the early side which doesn't help it feel real swinging to me. The rest of it is sort of funk drummer jazz, but whatever- I don't think anyone is going to sound real great in that goofy format.
 

con struct

Platinum Member
Nope. Doesn't swing at all. And his drums sound terrible, to my ears anyway, like he's playing on rubber buckets.

But I don't think that Tony Royster considers himself or even wants to be a jazz drummer, does he? He sure doesn't play like it. And he can definitely play.
 
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mediocrefunkybeat

Guest
Nope. Doesn't swing at all. And his drums sound terrible, to my ears anyway, like he's playing on rubber buckets.

But I don't think that Tony Royster considers himself or even wants to be a jazz drummer, does he? He sure doesn't play like it. And he can definitely play.
I have to ask the obvious though:

Why does he try to play 'Caravan' then?

Surely - being the player he is - he would know what his limitations are. The band clearly can swing (I think the guitarist comes out of that rather well for instance) so you would hope that they also understand his limitations and work around that. Instead, I'm hearing a guy who can't really swing (in the right way) trying to play a swung piece with a band that seem to know what they're doing.

He may have no obvious pretensions to be a Jazz player but if you're trying to play something in a professional context then you should be able to play it well - especially if you're as good a player (technically) as Royster Jr. is. Sure he can play and play very well. It's not for me but he can definitely play. Why not play to his own strengths? Why is he bashing around with 'Caravan'?

Oh and speed has nothing to do with how much 'swing' you play with. If you want to swing, you can just play fewer notes at high speed. Above a certain tempo the 'swing pattern' is almost never played. The best players can manage it around 300BPM (for the serious bop players) but that doesn't mean they will necessarily. It just takes more skill to be able to control the swing at those tempi.
 
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Coldhardsteel

Gold Member
Tony was very close to playing the wrong kind of swing. He was very nearly crushing the interval between that swung note and the latter note, but I heard nothing wrong with his primary beat.

What I heard was him shifting every split second during his solo between straight and triplet. That was weird to listen to.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
A rock solo in a jazz tune is like wearing a plaid shirt with striped pants. He's a great player, but I question his motive and choices. And his fashion sense.
 
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