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Thread: Tips for playing swing?

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    Tips for playing swing?

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    I kind of struggle at playing swing, mainly with like snare comping and fills, any tips?

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    Swing more than any music is a feel kind of thing. Listen to a lot of swing and be-bop and you'll start to hear/feel where drummers drop the snare accents. I'm sure you've already figured out that most of the snare hits are not on the "downbeat" but rather on the 1/8th note "up-beats" (accenting the "and" if you count 16th notes):

    1-da-and-da-2-da-and-da-3-da-and-da-4-da-and-da

    As a general rule of thumb - the kick plays all the 1/8th notes (lightly so the beat is implied more than heard) with occational hard hits to accent certain parts, such as cymbal crashes or to accent parts of horn lines (this is often called "dropping the bomb"). The hi-hat normally keeps time (often the quarter notes of 2 & 4 - which in most music is the standard "backbeat"). Then naturally the hand not playing the snare accents plays the swing (normally on the ride, but possibly on the hi-hat or if playing with brushes, on the snare - you do know how to stir the pot right)

    Like I said, listen to a lot of swing and/or be-bop. If you are a decent player and have an ear. you'll figure it out.

    There are a lot of videos/DVDs that you could watch. One in particular by Ed Shaughnessy & Clem DeRosa (Time,Taste,Technique & Timbre) does a good job of showing and explaining how the drummer pushes the swing in a big band. Overall the video is rather boring - but the camera angles and the rather simplistic way they talk about playing swing is easy to follow.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mikeh View Post
    Swing more than any music is a feel kind of thing. Listen to a lot of swing and be-bop and you'll start to hear/feel where drummers drop the snare accents. I'm sure you've already figured out that most of the snare hits are not on the "downbeat" but rather on the 1/8th note "up-beats" (accenting the "and" if you count 16th notes):

    1-da-and-da-2-da-and-da-3-da-and-da-4-da-and-da

    As a general rule of thumb - the kick plays all the 1/8th notes (lightly so the beat is implied more than heard) with occational hard hits to accent certain parts, such as cymbal crashes or to accent parts of horn lines (this is often called "dropping the bomb"). The hi-hat normally keeps time (often the quarter notes of 2 & 4 - which in most music is the standard "backbeat"). Then naturally the hand not playing the snare accents plays the swing (normally on the ride, but possibly on the hi-hat or if playing with brushes, on the snare - you do know how to stir the pot right)

    Like I said, listen to a lot of swing and/or be-bop. If you are a decent player and have an ear. you'll figure it out.

    There are a lot of videos/DVDs that you could watch. One in particular by Ed Shaughnessy & Clem DeRosa (Time,Taste,Technique & Timbre) does a good job of showing and explaining how the drummer pushes the swing in a big band. Overall the video is rather boring - but the camera angles and the rather simplistic way they talk about playing swing is easy to follow.
    How are you defining "swing?"

    I've never heard swing described using an example of 16th note subdivisions with a kick on all of the eighths. Four on the floor maybe, but definitely not on the eighth notes. Maybe I'm misinterpreting what you're saying though.

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    All you need to know is here...


    http://www.amazon.com/Art-Bop-Drumming-CD/dp/089898890X


    (well, that book and countless hours of practicing, listening classic recording, attending to Jams...! )

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    eraos,

    You are correct- I should have referenced 1/4 notes on the kick - not 1/8th notes. My error - I'm not sure why I was think 1/8th notes (other than I was doing 3 other things while working on the computer - and my grey matter simply is not designed to multi task)

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    1. Get Steve Smith's "History of the US Beat" dvd, which breaks down the whole history of swing rhythms on the drumset, and how they evolved from the very first trap kits through big band, bop, R&B, rock, fusion, and beyond. Well-shot, too, with inset camera angles showing you his footwork when you need it.

    2. Listen to LOTS of jazz. If you don't get it locked in your ears, you won't be able to do more than a pale imitation.

    3. Practice along with great jazz records. Nothing beats it, except for a live band.

    4. Don't get preoccupied with fills. If your ride groove isn't happening, no one will care what you do with the snare.

    My brother-in-law told me a story he got from HIS college jazz drumming instructor. The guy was doing a big band show when he was in school, and intermission rolled around. His instructor said he had some suggestions on improvement... could he please see the student's snare drum? So the student handed it over. And then the instructor asked for a stick, and the student gave him that, waiting for the brilliant lesson on snare technique. Then the instructor asked for his kick pedal. The student, confused, gave it to him. At that point, the instructor told him to go play the rest of the set WITHOUT a snare, kick pedal, or second stick.

    There's a lesson in swing for ya.

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    Great thread.

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    the trick to playing swing beats is when you see 8ths they're played as triplets with the first 2 tied together...
    37.8% of all statistics are made up on the spot...

    hey give a guy some room... people are trying to evolve here... for crying out loud...

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    First and foremost... Eat, think, drink, and breathe in TRIPLETS!!!!

    1 & a 2 & a 3 & a 4 & a ... Or better yet: 1-trip-let 2-trip-let 3-trip-let 4-trip-let

    Every part of your swing pulse is a variation of a triplet. When you comp on your snare, you're dropping in on the various triplet patterns.

    As was mentioned, get Steve Smith's DVD and pick up a lot of pointers... One excercise he gives is practicing with a 4 over 3 polyrhythm: tap your left hand in quarter note triplets while tapping your right hand in regular quarter notes... After you get it, you'll see they automatically sound out the 'standard' dotted eigth swing feel (taaah-tut ta-taaah-tut), or as counted out: 1 -trip-let 2 -trip- let 3-trip-let 4 -trip- let 1....etc.

    Another excercise I like to do that helps with your snare comping is to get your swing pattern going on your ride and then practice dropping the snare in on every one of the triplet beats... Start by playing only on 1 ... Then the next time hit the '&' (trip) of 1... Then just the 'a' (let) of 1... Do this for EVERY part of the count just playing your snare on that single beat... Then try mixing it up by doing the all the 'trip's... or just the 'let's with the 2's and 4's... Anything you can think of trying...

    But remember...

    THINK TRIPLETS!!!!



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    Quote Originally Posted by BentRabbit View Post
    First and foremost... Eat, think, drink, and breathe in TRIPLETS!!!!

    1 & a 2 & a 3 & a 4 & a ... Or better yet: 1-trip-let 2-trip-let 3-trip-let 4-trip-let

    Every part of your swing pulse is a variation of a triplet. When you comp on your snare, you're dropping in on the various triplet patterns.
    Bingo. This is it. Meditate on this daily.

    Quote Originally Posted by mikeh View Post
    eraos,
    You are correct- I should have referenced 1/4 notes on the kick
    I strongly urge you to not play quarter notes in the bass drum. There may be an occaisonal time where it's called for, but it's rarely a good idea. Early swing drummers did it, but it's really not that hip, IMHO. Anyway, it will take some time before you'll be able to pull it off. Focus on the ride.

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