How To Play Swing Rhythm
If your musical experience has been mostly classical piano study, you will likely find when you try to play jazz, it doesn’t sound the same as the jazz musicians you hear on records.
This is because classical music is played and felt with a straight feel and jazz music is most often played with swing feel.
To quote Duke Ellington who was one of finest jazz pianists to ever live, “It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing“.
In this lesson we are going to cover all of the information you’ll need to learn how to swing. We’ll start off by identifying and demonstrating the differences between a swing feel and a straight feel.
We will then break down the anatomy of swing and discuss how this is notated and interpreted in the context of jazz standards, lead sheets and transcriptions.
Finally we will talk about the variables, dynamics and intricacies of swing and how you can apply these to your playing today.
What Is The Difference Between A Straight Feel & A Swing Feel?
I will start of the lesson by demonstrating the difference between a straight and a swing feel. We will do this in the context of a scale and then in the context of a line over a 251 in C Major.
Why Is Swing Rhythm Not Notated?
If we take a line of 8th notes but notate it with actual swing rhythm, you can see that it looks overly complicated and much more difficult to read. For this reason, jazz musicians understand that swing rhythm is implied for 8^th^ notes.
How to Add Accents To Swing Lines
A very important point is the accents. The final triplet of each beat should be emphasized. By doing this you are emphasizing the up beat which is the & of each beat. But remember in swing rhythm, the & falls somewhere around the 3^rd^ triplet of each beat
One thing you may find tricky is not accenting the beat when the chord changes. The chords change on beats 1 and 3 and in classical music, these beats are accented and so it may take some practice and reconditioning to get out of that habit.
Swing Rhythm – Where To Start The Phrase
So you have 2 choices available to you here, the down beat, or the up beat. Remember that the upbeats are emphasized in swing rhythm and so if you come in on the upbeat, you should be accenting the first note.
Remember you can come in on any of the upbeats, he we come in on the first up beat but you could also start your line on the upbeat of 2, 3 or 4.
Swing Feel Lesson Supplement File Type: pdf