Swinging eighth notes via articulation

Someone asked (on Reddit) how to swing eighth notes. Here’s my response, somewhat cleaned up and expanded.

Don’t. If you try to swing them, they will be over done.
Play straight eighth notes. The “swing is done via articulation.

You want to think “forward motion” http://www.halgalper.com/articles/understandingforwardmotion/

But the short version is that, in 4/4 time, the on beats are slurred and the off beats (the ‘and’) gets the tongue. Example:

Say you have a measure with an eighth rest and then 7 eight notes. Play the eight notes with the articulation pattern : Tee-AH. So

rest tee-ah tee-ah tee-ah tah.

If the measure startswith an eight note, say tah. so a full 8 eighth notes is articulated;

tah tee-ah tee-ah tee-ah tah.

If the lines crosses the measure boundary, don’t stop the music. For 8 beats, you get:

tah tee-ah tee-ah tee-ah tee-ah tee-ah tee-ah tee-ah tah.

If there is an eight note pick up, tongue it and slur the one..

tee | ah tee ah ….

But play the eighth notes as straight as possible. When you get up to speed, it is impossible to swing them via duration.

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