What does swing mean in jazz

On the one hand the name for the essential rhythmic element of jazz, on the other hand for the predominant style of the 1930s / 40s. For the latter, the former is certainly indispensable, but the former is not limited to the latter, but is relevant in a correspondingly modified form for all jazz styles. In order to better distinguish between the two actually separate terms, it has been suggested several times that lowercase letters should also be used in German in the former case.

S. as a rhythmic phenomenon arises from the meeting of one opposite the basic meter or beat "Preferred" accentuation on the offbeat, z. B. that of a wind soloist opposite the bass line, the walking bass, whereby the peculiar floating character of jazz rhythm, precisely the s., results. Based on the model concept that the offbeat roughly an eighth triplet before the beat lies, the term “ternary rhythm” is used in contrast to “binary”, for example in the rhythm of Latin American music based on straight eighths. This model concept has its justification v. a. in a didactic mediation, but does not stand up to a critical examination in practice. The ratio of beat and offbeat is, on the other hand, primarily dependent on the tempo, and the model concept in the sense of the ternary rhythm applies at best to slow to medium tempos, with an increasingly fast meter it approaches straight eighths in the sense of the binary rhythm. Next to it is S. also depends on the articulation of the respective soloist or ensemble, strong accents have a correspondingly strong effect. To speak of an emphasis on the easy part of the bar or of syncopation is still widespread, but still wrong, applicable at best to a forerunner style of jazz such as ragtime. S. In this sense, it cannot be precisely defined and is a question of subjective assessment, a reason for discussion, especially in the peripheral areas of the stylistic core areas and in the present, which is characterized by a pluralistic style.

S. was the dominant style not only of jazz but of popular music in general since the early 1930s, yes, you can say that the S.Era is determined by the identity of both categories. S. is initially v. a. combined with an even accentuation of the quarters in the rhythm accompaniment, which became common around 1930, in such a way fourbeatjazz compared to that tends to emphasize the first and third quarters twobeatjazz of the older styles. The most important ensemble supporting the development will be the big band, emerging from the previously existing dance bands and theater orchestras, mostly in an even more modest format compared to the later standard line-up. (A typical big band of the early 1930s could consist of the following 10-man line-up: 2 trumpets, trombone, 2 alto, 1 tenor saxophone - all saxophones also alternate clarinets - piano, banjo / guitar, tuba or sousaphone / double bass, drums The later 17-man standard line-up includes 4 trumpets, 3 trombones, bass trombone, 2 alto, 2 tenor, 1 baritone saxophone - all saxophonists also include clarinets or flutes - piano, guitar, bass, drums.) Naturally, the Use of arrangements, the arranger and composer essential to the development of jazz. Important big bands were among others. that of Duke Ellington, who with his title It Don't Mean A Thing If It Ain't Got That Swing from 1930, if not invented, then at least widely spread the term, also the orchestras of Fletcher Henderson, Count Basie, Jimmie Lunceford and Chick Webb. As the “King of S."Star clarinetist Bennie Goodman became famous, while other important clarinetists and orchestral directors were Artie Shaw, Woody Herman and Jimmy Dorsey, who initially led an orchestra with his brother Tommy and later led his own band. T. Dorsey was also a trombonist and orchestra director A double function, like Glenn Miller, who later became so successful, who in his smoothed and perfected style surely moved the furthest away from jazz carried by improvisation, but also because of this and his involvement in the psychological warfare of the Second World War, which is great and continues to this day Gained popularity, reinforced by the formation of myths about the circumstances of his death, which have not yet been clarified. S. small combo cast was often a matter of "Bands within the band", of musicians from the big bands who come together for jam sessions and recordings, including those of the Duke Ellington Orchestra or the Gramercy Five by A. Shaw. B. Goodman also wrote jazz history with his combos, for example the trio with pianist Teddy Wilson and drummer Gene Krupa, the quartet that Lionel Hampton joined on vibraphone, and later with his sextet. The role of the band singer is essential, and in some cases also of the vocal ensemble. Ella Fitzgerald began her career with Chick Webb, Billie Holiday sang with Count Basie Band, the typical crooner like Bing Crosby even recorded with D. Ellington in his early years, and Frank Sinatra was also a singer in a big band, namely that of T. Dorsey.

If the developments of this era continue to have an effect in many respects to this day, some musicians are still that today S. obliged as a style, she thought S.-Era ended after the Second World War, when the changed economic conditions made large occupations unprofitable. With a few prominent exceptions, the big bands were disbanded, for the mass of the audience there was a new orientation with rock’n’roll, and in jazz a new and revolutionary development had already emerged in the early 1940s with bebop.

Many orchestras played in Austria as early as the 1930s S. influenced dance music, e.g. B. that of Ch. Gaudriot, D. Mathé or L. Jaritz, a real reception of jazz in the S.-Style can only be mentioned in exceptional cases. This can be used for wartime z. B. for the dance orchestra of European transmitter state that his music was not recorded for a local audience, but for propaganda programs. The jam sessions in the apartment of the guitarist J. Palme should also be mentioned here as well as the performances of the groups around the violinist H. Mytteis and the pianist E. Landl in the “Steffeldiele”. Only after the war was the prerequisite for a broad reception of S. and given jazz. The radio stations of the occupying powers, especially the American one Blue Danube Network enabled a broad audience to learn about current popular music; Austrian musicians had the opportunity to gain practical experience in these genres when they were engaged in soldiers' clubs; local orchestras, such as v. a. the Vienna Dance Orchestra (WTO), or combos like that Hot Club Vienna now played at least partially in their programs S. at a remarkable level and also recorded corresponding records.

J. Behrend, The jazz book 1953 (various new editions); J. Back, Triumph of jazz 1992; Kraner / Schulz 1972; K. Schulz, Jazz in Austria 1920–60, 2003.

Reinhold Westphal, Art. “Swing”, in: Oesterreichisches Musiklexikon online, access: ().

[Last content change: 06/05/2001]