This figure compared to the master figure
Usages of the swing figure
The swing figure is one of the eight ternary rhythm possibilities.
It is a few thousand years old and can be found in many folk songs and in classical music.
Within the last few centuries, some people have started altering binary songs by lengthening the notes that fall on the beat; so that those on the upbeat were delayed and shortened.
Doing so gives a swing feel to the music.
Lengthening the first of two eighth notes displaces the second.
The second note is pushed away from the middle (1/2) of the beat to the 2/3 position.
At that point, the music, that was originally binary, becomes ternary.
The second of the two eighth notes is moved to the 2/3 position.
The rhythm is now ternary.
This explains why some types of music, such as most of jazz, are written in binary, while being, in fact, completely ternary.
In many cases, the word "swing" or the following equation can be found at the top of the lead sheet:
Placed above the first bar of a piece of music, it indicates that eighth notes should be played as a ternary swing figure.
How to perform
the swing figure
•A: Start by doing this rhythm, using the syllable "Ta".
•B: Remove the "T" from the second "Ta" of each beat.
•C: Hold the first "Ta" of each beat.
Tempo 80 bpm
Tempo 110 bpm
Tempo 140 bpm