collapse

* Member Info

 
 
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
Did you miss your activation email?

* Like Us on Facebook

Blues is for gut-bucket people who run around with only half their clothes on - Reverend Gary Davis

Author Topic: Eighth Notes--To Swing or Not to Swing?  (Read 17046 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Richard

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 2406
  • Drove this for 25 years!
    • weekendblues
Re: Eighth Notes--To Swing or Not to Swing?
« Reply #60 on: January 19, 2008, 11:25:01 AM »
Whilst I take the point MTJ3 but let me reiterate what I said in my earlier post
Quote
...so much of this stuff was basically really very square and relied on the rhythm section producing a collective four in a bar.

Now remember this is very early 20s and that this was the way bands played. Nobody had really got as far as inventing the (swing) wheel per se as a band tool, although it was obviously in evidence and dabbled with. Bands of that period  (including Ellingtons) relied on that that solid collective basic four and from that platform, as has been already noted, a soloist could either go swing or straight.

In any event I feel it was a bit unfair of  Schuller to compare Moten, who was just starting out and only recorded two tunes in '23 with Oliver's well established band which also just happened to have one very inventive Louis Armstrong on second cornet not to mention the likes of Johnny Dodds et al!

Also, the bigger bands of that time were, despite enthisiastic musical drive, were often constrained by lack-lustre arrangements as compare to the small bands. And, whilst mentioning arrangements compare the number of tunes from 30s that can be easliy recalled as compared to those of very early 20s which were composed in that rather non-swing style.
(That's enough of that. Ed)

Online Johnm

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 10911
    • johnmillerguitar.com
Re: Eighth Notes--To Swing or Not to Swing?
« Reply #61 on: January 19, 2008, 03:47:16 PM »
Hi all,
I see what you mean about Schuller's perjorative judgements of bygone treatments of rhythm being a bit harsh, Richard, in light of what was to become commonplace not so much later, swinging, but you can't swing until you've done it for the first time, and you may not be able to swing dependably until you've done it many times.  I read somewhere that late in his life, when questioned about these early recordings, Coleman Hawkins denied having been on the records. 
I think Schuller's point about treatment of the divisions of the beat being a good indicator of different regional styles is fascinating, though.  And Schuller's erudition is formidable.  In preparation for writing "The Swing Era", I know he listened to the entire recorded works of Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington, in the order they were recorded, so he could note the point at which new elements made their way into their music.  Whew, the amount of work involved in doing something like that is staggering, but I suspect you have to do something akin to that to nail down when changes occurred for the first time.  I'm always interested to read what he has to say.
all best,
Johnm 

Offline Richard

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 2406
  • Drove this for 25 years!
    • weekendblues
Re: Eighth Notes--To Swing or Not to Swing?
« Reply #62 on: January 20, 2008, 02:18:17 AM »
Hi Johnm

Glad you see where I was coming from and I'm not knocking Schuller's great work as such, more like putting a few points into (my) perspective!

As for Hawkins, it's some time since I listened to the '23 Henderson band but as I recall he is most certainly visible, aurally so to speak.. work that one out  ;D  I shall have to excavate an LP or two.
(That's enough of that. Ed)

Offline Pan

  • Member
  • Posts: 1900
  • Howdy!
Re: Eighth Notes--To Swing or Not to Swing?
« Reply #63 on: January 22, 2008, 10:05:31 AM »
Hi all

Lucille Bogan a.k.a. Bessie Jackson recorded a bunch of songs in June 1923, in Atlanta Georgia.

Chirpin' The Blues, Don't Mean You No Good Blues, Lonesome Daddy Blues, and The Pawn Shop Blues, 
are all played in swung eighths, although at times the pianist plays some straight eighth notes and briefly doubles the tempo in Lonesome Daddy Blues.

Triflin' Blues (Daddy, Don't You Trifle On Me), however, is played in straight eight notes.

http://www.redhotjazz.com/bogan.html

Pan

Offline Pan

  • Member
  • Posts: 1900
  • Howdy!
Re: Eighth Notes--To Swing or Not to Swing?
« Reply #64 on: January 22, 2008, 02:51:50 PM »
I'm told by the internet (yeah, what a reliable source :P) that Sylvester Weaver was the first country blues guitarist ever recorded. Can anyone confirm this?

His first recording gig apparently was backing up Sara Martin. In 1923 they recorded many songs, among them the first one's were "Roaming Blues" where Weaver somewhat alters between swung and straight eighths in a way that makes me think of Blind Blake. The flip side was a song called "I've Got To Go And Leave My Daddy Behind" which is also done in swung eighths. Here's a link to the Red Hot Jazz site with the songs: http://www.redhotjazz.com/martin.html

During the same month (or sessions?) he also recorded his first solo performances which were slide pieces in open tunings, played in straight eighth notes. You can hear samples of the 1923 "Guitar Blues" and "Guitar Rag" on this site: http://www.cduniverse.com/search/xx/music/pid/1021191/a/Complete+Recorded+Works+Vol.+1+(1923-1927).htm

Check out also the Stefan Wirz discography for more details: http://www.wirz.de/music/weasyfrm.htm

I'm afraid that the only "conclusion" that I can make from all of this very limited recorded material (and my even far more limited knowledge of it), is that as long as real CB and jazz have been recorded, both straight and swung eighths have been present. The domination of either the straight or the swung feel, and how they are to be interpreted seems to be a both stylistic and personal choice.

Pan
« Last Edit: January 23, 2008, 05:12:09 PM by Pan »

Offline Pan

  • Member
  • Posts: 1900
  • Howdy!
Re: Eighth Notes--To Swing or Not to Swing?
« Reply #65 on: May 09, 2008, 07:31:49 AM »
I just noticed that Blind Blake, accompanying Bertha Henderson, starts the song "Leavin' Gal Blues" as a slow blues, playing triplets in the 12/8 style. Later in the song he starts to play even 8th notes and a more sparse quarter note accompaniment.

Pan

Online Johnm

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 10911
    • johnmillerguitar.com
Re: Eighth Notes--To Swing or Not to Swing?
« Reply #66 on: April 24, 2010, 02:30:44 PM »
Hi all,
I've been transcribing a bunch of Bo Carter tunes lately:  "She's Gonna Crawl Back Home To You", "Pretty Baby", "She Keeps On Spending My Change" and today, "Someday", and one of the difficulties I've encountered is dealing with Bo's treatment of rhythm and time.  Each one of these songs has a predominant 12/8 feel to its time signature--four beats per measure with an underlying triplet feel to each beat.  In such a feel, most often when the beat splits into "one-and-two-and-three-and-four-and" it does not split evenly; rather you end up with so-called broken triplets, in which the note falling on the beat has the duration of the first two notes of the triplet and the "and" falls on the third note of the triplet.  It's a basic shuffle feel.

The problem arises when you notice that Bo also does divide the beat evenly quite often, switching from the triple feel to a deeper duple feel.  Skip James and Robert Johnson also did this switching from a triple to a duple feel a fair amount.  It has been a bear notating the rhythm accurately.  Today, in "Someday", I noticed that Bo tended to play the straight, unswung eighth notes behind his singing, in the first two bars of each four-bar phrase, and reverted to the 12/8 feel and swung eighths for his instrumental fills in the third and fourth bars of each four-bar phrase.  It was kind of neat to recognize that Bo was alternating the duple and triple feels in a controlled fashion, simultaneously feel and concept-driven, and not just spritzing.  He really was a remarkable musician.  He exerted control of his materials in a way that is incredibly rare in this music.
All best,
Johnm 

Offline col

  • Member
  • Posts: 18
Re: Eighth Notes--To Swing or Not to Swing?
« Reply #67 on: April 26, 2010, 12:13:12 PM »
I'm glad this thread has been resurrected - I missed it first time around.

It's very interesting, and seems mostly accurate from my limited knowledge. The first person I thought of when country blues in straight eighths was mentioned was MJH, I love that snappy raggy feel he gets.

One thing that to me seems clearly wrong though is the suggestion that, apart from his mid tempo numbers like 'black dog blues', Blind Blake didn't use a swing/shuffle rhythm.

I remembered transcribing 'Diddie wah diddy' and 'Too tight No2' a while back, and using a shuffle (I posted here about how best to notate it).
So Just now I went to check, first at true tempo, then slowed down with 'Transcribe!', and sure enough, both 'Diddie wah Diddie' and 'Too Tight No2' have a pretty heavy swing/shuffle (although it is very fast :)).

Am I misunderstanding what is meant by swing in the thread, or have I misinterpreted 16th as 8ths in Blake's tunes?

Col



Online Johnm

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 10911
    • johnmillerguitar.com
Re: Eighth Notes--To Swing or Not to Swing?
« Reply #68 on: April 28, 2010, 08:38:04 PM »
Hi col,
I think you're right that Blake was able to swing the eighth notes on some of his quicker numbers as well as the medium tempo songs.  Other quicker songs are not swung so much.  I remember remarking on this after listening to Blake's renditions of "Police Dog Blues" and "Chump Man".  I swung the eighth notes much more on those tunes than Blake did.  I think Ari Eisinger does much the best job of any contemporary player I have heard of calibrating the degree of swing that Blake employed, at whatever tempo.  Moreover, he can play in Blake's style without actually quoting Blake, which shows how deeply he has assimilated Blake's musical language.
All best,
Johnm

Offline shmot

  • Member
  • Posts: 3
  • Howdy!
Re: Eighth Notes--To Swing or Not to Swing?
« Reply #69 on: February 09, 2013, 07:58:16 PM »
Hi--I've been looking for discussions/information about the earliest known swing eighths, but not in blues or jazz...only in mainstream pop recordings. I see this is an old string, so maybe no one will see this.

1--I believe that the "urge" to swing can be felt in some very early recordings...a 1912 cylinder recording of Irving Berlins's "When that midnight Choochoo Leaves for Alabam" on Youtube.

2--also on You tube, I found a 1926 recording of "Charleston" supposedly recoded by the pit band for the original show that the song came from: this recording was curiously square and straight.

3---I believe that many early songs had the swing written in, in dotted 8ths and 16ths. There are also several songs with long such passages followed by written straight 8ths, which shows me that both swing and straight co-existed even within one song. (Toddling the Todalo, and several Louis Hirsh songs).

4--I think straight ragtime 8ths carried on into the 1920s--see Irving Berlin's "Everybody Step", which makes more sense and impact if played straight.

5--Pan asks some questions that I wonder about re African influence, and one thing that really sticks out for me is--by 1920 the African influence would have been about 100 to 200 years in the past. I would guess it was not contemporary. If this is correct, then who knows how west African music sounded in 1740 to 1830 or so? Is there any contemporarily notated record of this? And, even if 1760 African music had something like unequal 8ths, is it reasonable to think that that characteristic would survive unchanged until 1920 or so?

6--finally for now, note that the Cakewalk rhythm (16th 8th 16th 8th 8th) is also a standard Spanish rhythm still known now all over South America as La Danza, and also found in the Habanera. Since the Cakewalk is usually seen as a sort of precurser to Ragtime, and ragtime to swing 8ths, is there a possibility that swing 8ths have a Spanish origin? and then since Spain was ruled by Arabs for 700 years or so---does swing actually have an Arab/Spanish origin? (the matter of Spanish roots for swing is being examined by others too).

any thoughts?

Offline dj

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 2638
  • Howdy!
Re: Eighth Notes--To Swing or Not to Swing?
« Reply #70 on: February 10, 2013, 07:15:15 AM »
It's interesting to see this thread revived now that I've spent a fair amount of time listening to early jazz and to pre-1920 pop music, two areas that I knew very little about when this thread began. 

Swing is a funny thing.  Listening to Fred Van Eps playing Old Folks Rag in 1914, I don't know what the sheet music looks like, but if I were transcribing the song, I'd do it in 12/8, with the dominant rhythmic pulse being quarter eighth quarter eighth...  And the first phrase of the song wouldn't seem out of place if you heard Blind Boy Fuller play it as part of the intro to a blues recorded 20-some years later.  But I can't say that the Van Eps song swings, while Fuller playing the same notes would definitely swing.  I think partly because Van Eps is really enphasizing the one beat, while Fuller emphasizes the two and four, and partly it's because Van Eps is really solid on the 12/8 rhythm, while Fuller lets the same rhythm "breathe" a bit, for want of a better term.  Moving on a few years, the clarinet and cornet players in the Original Dixieland Jazz Band sometimes swing a bit, especially in the into to their songs.  The 1919 recording of Ja Da is an example of this.  It's not a full quarter-eitghth swing, but more a move to slightly hold the first note of a straight-eighth pair and shorten the second note a bit.

I'm not so sure that an African-American tradition is involved here, because I don't hear any tendency to swing either in minstrelsy (including both white minstrels presenting "authietic" black music and black minstrels themselves) nor in the Jubilee singers that were popular from the Civil War through the 1920s.  But I'm not a scholar in those fields, and my listening experience is necessarily limited.  I'd be happy to hear examples cited.

I think the South American link is interesting.  The Maxixe - a Brazillian dance - was popular in the early teens, with both Vernon and Irene Castle and Joan Sawyer featuring it in their acts.  Listening to recordings of Maxixe music, like Bregeiro by Joan Sawyer's Persian Garden Orchestra (an African-American band led by Dan Kildare), one can hear a bit of a swing feel to the music.

I guess you could sum up what I've just said by saying "I don't know a lot about the origins of swing, but it's an interesting subject, and I'd like to know more about it."       


Edited for a better description of what Fred Van Eps and Blind Boy Fuller are doing rhythmically.
« Last Edit: February 10, 2013, 08:32:37 AM by dj »

Online Johnm

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 10911
    • johnmillerguitar.com
Re: Eighth Notes--To Swing or Not to Swing?
« Reply #71 on: February 10, 2013, 07:53:44 AM »
Hi all,
One additional point I would make is that I would be leery of early attempts to notate rhythms of dance/popular music as evidence of that music swinging.  Dividing a beat, for instance, into a dotted eighth and a sixteenth note definitely does not swing, if played as written.  Rhythmic notation of any era's vernacular music is a very poor indicator of performance practice, at least if based on the music of eras where we have relatively easy access to recordings.  Transcriptions of rhythm almost invariably require access to the recorded performance to achieve the same feel.
All best,
Johnm

Offline dj

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 2638
  • Howdy!
Re: Eighth Notes--To Swing or Not to Swing?
« Reply #72 on: February 10, 2013, 10:03:14 AM »
Quote
Dividing a beat, for instance, into a dotted eighth and a sixteenth note definitely does not swing, if played as written.

That's exactly the point I was trying to make when comparing Fred Van Eps and Blind Boy Fuller, John.  Thanks for saying it so much more clearly than I could.

Offline shmot

  • Member
  • Posts: 3
  • Howdy!
Re: Eighth Notes--To Swing or Not to Swing?
« Reply #73 on: February 10, 2013, 05:20:37 PM »
Johnm, I absolutely agree with you about being leery of printed rhythms being taken for swing, and I always try to refer to the earliest possible recording(s) of any old song to determine the swing factor.

Having said that, many years of listening to these old records shows me that dotted 8th/16th printed rhythms do not always sound exactly strict on the records. Plus, I do think (without proof) that the prevalence of that rhythm can be taken as an indication that the song should swing--or could.

and especially on popular songs, there were 2 distinct styles of touch (re dotted 8ths): some had a very sharp, detached style, while other were more legato. The legato style tends to sound swingier, or perhaps even to swing, whereas the detached staccato style sounds a bit "corny" to my ears..the note values more exact...not that that's a bad thing.

I doubt that blues players ever used the staccato style. But again, that's not my field.

Online Johnm

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 10911
    • johnmillerguitar.com
Re: Eighth Notes--To Swing or Not to Swing?
« Reply #74 on: February 10, 2013, 06:19:17 PM »
Hi shmot,
I know exactly what you mean about the staccato sound.  It is the primary reason the Lawrence Welk Orchestra always sounded so dorky, to use a technical musical term.  And welcome to Weenie Campbell!
All best,
Johnm

 


SimplePortal 2.3.7 © 2008-2020, SimplePortal