How to swing: place yourself rhythmically

Here is a new video where I explain how to place yourself rhythmically to swing, which I consider very important and which we as string players, tend to neglect!!


Indeed, in classical or folk music, we usually place the melody in front of the accompaniment—ahead of the beat—whereas in jazz, it’s the opposite! The more we place the melody behind the beat, the more it will swing, just as the more we play the melody forward, the less it will swing…


In gypsy music, some musicians tend to play more forward, because gypsy jazz is also close to traditional gypsy music, so necessarily musicians whose playing approaches to these musics will have this tendency to play forward. Personally, I am less fond of this way of playing, I prefer getting closer to an American swing style, because gypsy swing also comes from there!


Some examples of musicians and their swing

Obviously, it’s also a question of tastes and colors… But for me, the most swinging gypsy jazz musicians place themselves on time or a little behind, and not in front: Django and Biréli are good examples. I also really like the rhythmic positioning of Adrien Moignard who is never ahead but rather on time or behind, as well as Ninine Garcia who is very influenced by the American swing and which plays very much behind the beat!

Regarding the violinists, I think Stéphane Grappelli has an amazing swing although his style is not very much behind the beat, but he’s not forward at all either! It is quite on time. Michel Warlop is rather in front of the beat, and although his playing is extremely inventive and his phrases magnificent, I am less attached to his swing. Stuff Smith, the American violinist, swings seriously behind. And if Didier Lockwood isn’t placed very far back, consider that he really has an unusual rhythmic placement: besides, you can see that he very often enjoys developing a < strong>rhythmic dialogue with the drummer!


Video exercise

Going back to the video, the goal is to show you these different ways to place yourself rhythmically, how it sounds on time, ahead, and behind, with specific examples. Thus, I hope that you will be able to realize the difference in swing that there is between these examples, and also to note that to swing in the American way, it is essential to try to play behind the beat.

Voici la vidéo:

I advise you to try to do the same: take a metronome and try to play on time, ahead and behind. Record yourself, and listen! Are you really behind, or ahead, as you felt at the time? You will see that this exercise is very interesting!

Below you will find a PDF to download with a small point-by-point summary of the article. This way you will also be kept up to date with the latest news from the site!

See you soon for new articles and new videos!


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