Make your quarter note swing....

MG1127

Active Member
This is something I was always told and it is the information that I pass on ... simply because it is the correct information.

Jazz is not "triplet based music" as so many will lead you to believe.

It is quarter note based music.

I see so many learning to play this music asking "how do I get my ride beat to feel right?"

the answer is ... Get your quarter note to swing!

To which the common response is the dogs tilted head look.

Yes, get your quarter note to swing.

If your quarter note doesn't swing how in the world is adding notes to that going to improve it? ... it's not

You can hear Jimmy Cobb do this at the beginning of So What ... as well as countless others

But this in my opinion is the best example of what to achieve

Grady Tate on Killer Joe

Get your quarter note to swing like this and everything else will fall into place.

Think about what your body is doing in between the notes ... the approach ... create those air pockets

Swing your quarter note!!!

 
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pinstripe

Active Member
Seems to me his quarter notes feel swinging because the bass player is supplying the triplet context. He's doing "walk ... dog" and mostly leaving it up to the bass to fill in the "the." But occasionally he does throw in a "the" to make the swing feel explicit (for instance he does a full "walk the dog" right around 0:23). Whether you want to call the "the" a swung eighth note or the "let" of a triplet is kind of a technical point but that's what's creating the swing, not the quarter note pulse in and of itself. Or at least that's how it seems to me. BTW, I love the song and just ordered a CD copy of the album on eBay.
 

C. Dave Run

Gold Member
We recorded band practice one day (was like 25 years ago or so) and I couldn't help but notice that my playing was robotic. Everything was in the right places, but sounded too cold.

Some point later I was in a music store talking with a gentleman about this exact thing. Guess what he said, swing the quarter notes. He then picked up a stick, showed me robot, and showed me swung. He then told me to not be so rigid, loosen up the time and make it lazy. It didnt make sense at the time but totally does now.
 

Xstr8edgtnrdrmrX

Diamond Member
while I get the intention, I will never be convinced that ignoring the subdivision will create better feel...

no matter what, it is the subdivision that creates the space though. It is the manipulation of the space in the subdivision that gives the illusion of the single quarters swinging. It gives the delay, and the expansion or contraction of the space. That is not just some mysterious occurence...

the "loosened up/ lazy" time is a direct result of knowing where the metronymic subdivision is, and then being able alter it with the metronomic pulse as the reference.

whether or not "jazz cats" can define what they are doing from that standpoint, that is what is happening...
 

pinstripe

Active Member
while I get the intention, I will never be convinced that ignoring the subdivision will create better feel...

no matter what, it is the subdivision that creates the space though. It is the manipulation of the space in the subdivision that gives the illusion of the single quarters swinging. It gives the delay, and the expansion or contraction of the space. That is not just some mysterious occurence...

the "loosened up/ lazy" time is a direct result of knowing where the metronymic subdivision is, and then being able alter it with the metronomic pulse as the reference.

whether or not "jazz cats" can define what they are doing from that standpoint, that is what is happening...
I had someone try to convince me recently that you could swing quarter notes through sheer mojo. First he played quarter notes on the ride, then he played more quarter notes while sort of swaying his body groovily with it. He claimed the quarter notes were now swinging but I couldn't hear any difference. I realize it's kind of squaresville to think the swing comes from the subdivision but I'm pretty convinced that's the bottom line.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry" - Administrator
Staff member
Can anyone explain the difference to me between a swung quarter note and a non swung quarter note?

In my mind the quarter note is played straight and the surrounding notes create the swing feel in relation to the quarter note.

So I'm wrong about that? Yes I can imply a swing feel with only a quarter note. But is it actually swinging? My logic says it's not, because it's dead on the beat, the quarter note. So therein lies confusion for me.

I thought I needed another note, in addition to the quarter note, to achieve an actual, not implied, swing feel
 
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Swiss Matthias

Platinum Member
I believe technically and logically quarter notes are not able to swing. How should they?
I think it rather must have to do with our ears and our internal feel, even our experience
and our expectations that enables quarter notes to make us feel swing?

Maybe our mind tricks us, too? If we're in a jazz context and know the intention of the
drummer is to swing, even if we just hear quarters? Maybe it's the look of the double
bass next to the jazzy-looking drumkit? :ROFLMAO:

Would be interesting to expose someone who never heard jazz to a "swinging" quarter
note ride beat and see what he hears and feels ...!
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry" - Administrator
Staff member
I had someone try to convince me recently that you could swing quarter notes through sheer mojo. First he played quarter notes on the ride, then he played more quarter notes while sort of swaying his body groovily with it. He claimed the quarter notes were now swinging but I couldn't hear any difference. I realize it's kind of squaresville to think the swing comes from the subdivision but I'm pretty convinced that's the bottom line.
I find this funny. In his head he's swinging but to your ears there was no difference.
 

NouveauCliche

Senior Member
This is something I was always told and it is the information that I pass on ... simply because it is the correct information.

Jazz is not "triplet based music" as so many will lead you to believe.

It is quarter note based music.

I see so many learning to play this music asking "how do I get my ride beat to feel right?"

the answer is ... Get your quarter note to swing!

To which the common response is the dogs tilted head look.

Yes, get your quarter note to swing.

If your quarter note doesn't swing how in the world is adding notes to that going to improve it? ... it's not

You can hear Jimmy Cobb do this at the beginning of So What ... as well as countless others

But this in my opinion is the best example of what to achieve

Grady Tate on Killer Joe

Get your quarter note to swing like this and everything else will fall into place.

Think about what your body is doing in between the notes ... the approach ... create those air pockets

Swing your quarter note!!!

100%


I learned this lesson too watching the Burning for Buddy tapes and seeing Gadd swing the whole tune with JUST quarters.

Good stuff!
 

pinstripe

Active Member
I find this funny. In his head he's swinging but to your ears there was no difference.
It was kind of funny. He's a jazz cat and a great drummer and can swing hard but those quarter notes all by themselves with no triplet context were just quarter notes. I knew there was no point in arguing about it, though, which was fine. That's what the internet is for :)
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
100%


I learned this lesson too watching the Burning for Buddy tapes and seeing Gadd swing the whole tune with JUST quarters.

Good stuff!
To be fair, you watched an entire band (and a fine one at that), not just Gadd.
I had someone try to convince me recently that you could swing quarter notes through sheer mojo. First he played quarter notes on the ride, then he played more quarter notes while sort of swaying his body groovily with it. He claimed the quarter notes were now swinging but I couldn't hear any difference. I realize it's kind of squaresville to think the swing comes from the subdivision but I'm pretty convinced that's the bottom line.
If a quarter note swings in the forest...
 

GetAgrippa

Diamond Member
Don’t you think microtiming in space and accenting (how and where you hit it) changes the quarter feel-more melodic than just linear pinging? Hmmm maybe not space as much where and how you hit cymbal?
 

s1212z

Silver Member
Steve often mentions Cobb. Here, he has got some accent on 2 & 4. The cymbal is dry but sounds like a stiffer grip (maybe similar to what I've heard Bill Stewart may do to manipulate a cymbal tone). Both of these I've intentionally worked on lately (quarters and grip tension) and considerably opened a world to let the music breath and get alot more out my cymbals.

It's interesting in free-er jazz but swing may be more implied than heard...but at least a skilled player can break it out at any given moment. Much like a difference between someone skilled in realism going abstract to someone with no art skill whatsoever going abstract...there is a mile wide difference. I think the same concept applies to some who swing with quarters vs. a metronome click here.

 

jansara

Junior Member
Jazz is not "triplet based music" as so many will lead you to believe.

It is quarter note based music.
Standard jazz is based on a triplet feel. Listen to the tunes you refer to. In each of them, the musicians' note structures are played with a triplet feel. Jazz sheet music scores often indicate two eighth notes = two triplet notes. The drummer is playing quarters against the implied triplets. Quarter notes by themselves don't swing.
 

MG1127

Active Member
Standard jazz is based on a triplet feel. Listen to the tunes you refer to. In each of them, the musicians' note structures are played with a triplet feel. Jazz sheet music scores often indicate two eighth notes = two triplet notes. The drummer is playing quarters against the implied triplets. Quarter notes by themselves don't swing.

My gut tells me no one has ever hired you to play this music.
 

JimmyM

Platinum Member
I am a theory nerd even though I choose to forget all about it when I go play. And I totally get the concept of swinging quarter notes. It’s one of those things that you have to turn your brain off or at least dial it down a bit, but I do get the very subtle difference, and it’s all about your mindset. I think, therefore I swing.
 

pinstripe

Active Member
I am a theory nerd even though I choose to forget all about it when I go play. And I totally get the concept of swinging quarter notes. It’s one of those things that you have to turn your brain off or at least dial it down a bit, but I do get the very subtle difference, and it’s all about your mindset. I think, therefore I swing.
I'd like to hear a recording of some straight and swung quarter notes so we can hear the difference.
 
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