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Bill Powelson's School of Drums
PRIVATE DRUM LESSON 8E-M
"SWING"

Copyright 1996 Bill Powelson all rights reserved

'Swing'

WHAT IS A SWING BEAT?

Swing is basically a 'Shuffle' beat. (See dance beat #4 in the 'Basic Dance Beats' lesson.)

CLUE:
The only real difference between Swing & Shuffle is ONE NOTE on the cymbal line! That ONE CYMBAL makes a BIG difference in the overall 'feel' and 'flow' of the music being played around it. Swing is really accelerated Shuffle! We drop one cymbal note with each repetition. This allows us to increase the tempo to blinding speeds!

WHERE DID THESE 'STREET' TERMS
'SWING' & 'SHUFFLE' ORIGINATE?

THE EARLY 'JAZZ' ERA LED TO 'SWING'.
Swing and Shuffle rhythms have always existed in a mathematical way. They are both VERY basic in nature. Most of the music from the 1920s was based on what we now call 'Swing'. The beginnings of what many call the 'Jazz Age' occurred in the 1920s. A predominance of music from that time was based on what later became known as the 'Swing' beat. Some people may still occasionally use the street term 'Jazz' beat when referring to the 'Swing' beat.

NOTE: Street terms often tend to mean different things to different people. Each new generation will add their own twist to existing terms. As time passes, a whole new definition and meaning may emerge. This tends to be the case with terms like 'jazz', 'Swing' and 'Shuffle'.

SWING HISTORY:

The actual 'Swing' era was ushered in with the Big Bands of the late 1930s & 1940s. I don't know what musician or group of musicians coined the street term 'Swing' but I suspect it may have been any or all of the following, plus any number of unknowns:

  • a. Woody Herman
  • b. Glen Miller
  • c. The Dorseys' (Tommy & Jimmy)
  • d. Bing Crosby
  • e. Frank Sinatra

ALL of the above names were BIG innovators of what is now called the 'Swing' era.

SHUFFLE HISTORY:

Shuffle seems to have grown out of Swing in the late 1930s and early 1940s. The black musicians of that era get most of the credit for popularizing the beat we now call 'Shuffle'. Early R&B and 'Boogie Woogie' were largely based on the Shuffle beat, which is really just a laid back, slower and more 'funky' form of Swing. I am told there was a 'Shuffle' dance (very much like a Michael Jackson 'Moon Walk'.) The Shuffle dance was usually done to songs containing the rhythm we now call Shuffle. Actually, the beat took its name from that dance known as 'Shuffle'.
Also, the shuffle beat and early shuffle style music tends to be acclaimed as the 'seed' or 'early cousin' from which our entire modern 'ROCK' era was born.

Now, learn to play the 'SWING" beat!

PART II: "SWING"

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Copyright Bill Powelson 1996 all rights reserved.