AskDefine | Define swung

Dictionary Definition



1 a state of steady vigorous action that is characteristic of an activity; "the party went with a swing"; "it took time to get into the swing of things"
2 mechanical device used as a plaything to support someone swinging back and forth
3 a sweeping blow or stroke; "he took a wild swing at my head"
4 changing location by moving back and forth [syn: swinging, vacillation]
5 a style of jazz played by big bands popular in the 1930s; flowing rhythms but less complex than later styles of jazz [syn: swing music, jive]
6 a jaunty rhythm in music [syn: lilt]
7 the act of swinging a golf club at a golf ball and (usually) hitting it [syn: golf stroke, golf shot]
8 in baseball; a batter's attempt to hit a pitched ball; "he took a vicious cut at the ball" [syn: baseball swing, cut]
9 a square dance figure; a pair of dancers join hands and dance around a point between them


1 move in a curve or arc, usually with the intent of hitting; "He swung his left fist"; "swing a bat"
2 move or walk in a swinging or swaying manner; "He swung back" [syn: sway]
3 change direction with a swinging motion; turn; "swing back"; "swing forward"
4 influence decisively; "This action swung many votes over to his side" [syn: swing over]
5 make a big sweeping gesture or movement [syn: sweep, swing out]
6 hang freely; "the ornaments dangled from the tree"; "The light dropped from the ceiling" [syn: dangle, drop]
7 hit or aim at with a sweeping arm movement; "The soccer player began to swing at the referee"
8 alternate dramatically between high and low values; "his mood swings"; "the market is swinging up and down"
9 live in a lively, modern, and relaxed style; "The Woodstock generation attempted to swing freely"
10 have a certain musical rhythm; "The music has to swing"
11 be a social swinger; socialize a lot [syn: get around]
12 play with a subtle and intuitively felt sense of rhythm
13 engage freely in promiscuous sex, often with the husband or wife of one's friends; "There were many swinging couples in the 1960's" [also: swung]swung See swing

User Contributed Dictionary



  • /'swʌɳ/




past tense past participle

Extensive Definition

In music, a swung note or shuffle note is a rhythmic device in which the duration of the initial note in a pair is augmented and that of the second is diminished. Also known as "notes inégales", swung notes are widely used in jazz music and other jazz-influenced music such as blues and Western swing. A swing or shuffle rhythm is the rhythm produced by playing repeated pairs of notes in this way. Lilting can refer to swinging, but might also indicate syncopation or other subtle ways of interpreting and shaping musical time.
In dance, swing or shuffle time or rhythm is music whose meter is that of common time played with a swing. It may be written as simple time and played with a swing, or as compound time and played as written. See transcribing swing rhythms below.
In jazz, the verb "to swing" is also used as a term of praise for playing that has a strong rhythmic "groove" or drive. See also swing (genre) for the 1930s-1940s jazz style, and swing (dance) for styles of dance from that same era.


In some jazz music, especially of the big band era, there is a convention that pairs of written eighth notes are not played equally--as the notation would otherwise be understood--but with the first longer than the second. The first note of each of these pairs is often understood to be twice as long as the second, implying a quarter note-eighth note triplet feel, but in practice the difference is rarely that pronounced (see "amount of swing," below). This is an assumed convention of notation in many styles of jazz, but usually does not apply to jazz before the early 1930s, latin jazz, bebop, or to the work of composers writing in the 1950s or later, unless "swing" is specified in the score. Notes that are not swung are called straight notes.
When swung eighth notes are performed, many performers slightly accent the "+" or second eighth note of each pair. In modern jazz, where nearly even eighths has become common they still slightly accent every second eighth note of each pair to achieve a hint of swing. Latin musicians play straight eighths and will say they are "swinging" when they slightly accent the second eighth note of every even pair.
Swing rhythms are sometimes indicated by an indication that pairs of eighth notes should be treated as a quarter and an eighth in a triplet bracket. However, swing rhythms range anywhere from slightly asymmetrical pairs to imbalances of a more pronounced sort (due to the mathematical nature of dividing one beat into 3 equal beats).
The subtler end of the range involves treating written pairs of eighth notes as slightly asymmetrical pairs of similar values. On the other end of the spectrum, the "dotted eighth - one sixteenth" rhythm, consists of a long note three times as long as the short. Prevalent "dotted rhythms" such as these in the rhythm section of dance bands in the mid 20th century are more accurately described as a "shuffle"; they are also an important feature of baroque dance and many other styles. Rhythms identified as swung notes most commonly fall somewhere between straight eighths and a quarter-eighth triplet pattern.
The following points of reference are reliable only as approximations of musical practice:
  • 1:1 = eighth note + eighth note, "straight eighths."
  • \approx 3:2 = long eighth + short eighth, "swing" or "shuffle"
  • 2:1 = triplet quarter note + triplet eighth, triple meter; "medium swing" or "medium shuffle"
  • 3:1 = dotted eighth note + sixteenth note; "hard swing", or "hard shuffle"
Swing ratios tend to get get wider at slower tempos and narrower at faster tempos. Miles Davis varied his swing ratios, frequently delaying the first note of each pair of eighth notes by some milliseconds and then synchronized the second eighth note with the drummer's swing eighths being played on the cymbal. Advanced performers often "lay back" or play "behind the beat" when performing jazz melodies by delaying the rhythms by milliseconds. Quarter notes can sound swung when they are played slightly behind the beat, detached, and accented on the two and four. Or late on one and three, but closer to the beat on two and four. Phrases swing when they begin between the beats. similar to how straight eighths can swing when they are behind the beat which creates an asymmetrical cross rhythm.


In jazz, this interpretive device is assumed in most written music other than dixieland, latin jazz, jazz-funk (soul-jazz) and jazz-fusion and bebop, but may also be indicated. For example, "Satin Doll", a swing era jazz standard is normally interpreted with a pronounced swing rhythm. It was published written in 4/4 time, but at least some versions also note medium swing.
In dance music, swing rhythm generally refers to the meter of the music, rather than to this convention of notation, so any music played with the "near-triplet" timing (see above) and swing accent will be referred to as swing rhythm however they are written.


Swing is commonly used in blues, country, jazz, 1930s-1940s swing jazz, and often in many other styles. Except for very fast jazz, slow ballads, latin jazz, and jazz-rock fusion, much written music in jazz is assumed to be performed with a swing rhythm. In some cases, publishers specify that the music is to be performed "with a swing". In jazz and big band music, a shuffle is almost always accompanied by a distinctive "cooking" rhythm played on the ride cymbal or hi hat.
Styles that always use traditional (triplet) rhythms, resembling "hard swing," include foxtrot, quickstep and some other ballroom dances, Stride piano, and 1920s-era Novelty piano (the successor to Ragtime style).
Styles that sometimes use swing rhythms include:


In the swing era, swing meant accented triplets (shuffle rhythm), suitable for dancing. With the development of bebop and later jazz styles independent of dancing, the term was used for far more general timings. There is much debate over use of other ratios than 2:1 in swing rhythms.
Some publishers of jazz music, especially those whose intended audience is people unfamiliar with jazz styles, transcribe the swing either:
  • As compound time, such as 6/8, 9/8, or 12/8. When played with the swing accent, these time signatures may be grouped together and called swing time, or swing time can also mean a simple time played with the swing convention.
  • As triplets within a duple meter.
In general, where music with a swing meter is required, musicians in the jazz tradition will prefer to read music written in common time and played with a swing, while musicians in the classical tradition will prefer to read music written in compound time and played as written.

See also

Further reading

  • Floyd, Samuel A., Jr. (Fall 1991). "Ring Shout! Literary Studies, Historical Studies, and Black Music Inquiry", Black Music Research Journal 11:2, p.265-28. Featuring a socio-musicological description of swing in African American music.
  • Rubin, Dave (1996). Art of the Shuffle for guitar, an exploration of shuffle, boogie, and swing rhythms. ISBN 0-7935-4206-5.

External links

Just Jazz Guitar Magazine Article (PDF) Aug 2003 Article is a look at swing timing, what we mean by swing and working on swing feel.
swung in Danish: Swing
swung in German: Swing (Rhythmus)
swung in Spanish: Swing
swung in Persian: سوینگ
swung in French: Swing (musique)
swung in Italian: Swing (musica)
swung in Dutch: Swing (muziek)
swung in Japanese: スウィング・ジャズ
swung in Russian: Свинг (музыкальный термин)
swung in Turkish: Swing
swung in Ukrainian: Свінг (музичний термін)
Privacy Policy, About Us, Terms and Conditions, Contact Us
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2
Material from Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Dict
Valid HTML 4.01 Strict, Valid CSS Level 2.1