Audio: swing (0:08)

Figure: swing

swing plays swing rhythms in 12/8 meter on a jazz drum kit. The swing figure is the score:

  • The bass and snare drums play the on and off beats respectively in the first two bars while the ride cymbal swings. It does this by accenting the first and last beat in every group of six beats.
  • The bass drum and hihat swap roles in the last two bars. The hihat keeps the tempo while the bass drum swings.

Swing, or shuffle as it is sometimes called, is a syncopated rhythm. It is closely associated with jazz but it can be used with any genre.

There are numerous types of swing rhythm. All involve syncopation with a heavy accent on the backbeat. In a real sense, swing and syncopation are the same.

Swing rhythm is often, but not always, compound quadruple meter with a 12/8 time signature.

To do is to dance, to be is to swing, said some philosopher or other. Swing makes you really really want to get up and move, that is its purpose.