Swing refers to a characteristic long-short subdivision of the beat that is generally considered a crucial aspect that contributes to the quality of a jazz or pop performance. The current study measures this pattern (referred to as the 'swing ratio') at different tempi in jazz drumming. The experimental setup differs from earlier studies in a number of ways. First, swing ratios were systematically measured at different beat durations in a musically realistic range. Second, repeated performances were collected to check for consistency. Third, drummers were asked to perform on a full MIDI drum kit. The results show that professional jazz drummers have enormous control over their timing. Nevertheless, the swing ratio is not kept constant, but it is systematically adapted to a global tempo. As such, this study provides further support for the hypothesis that expressive timing generally does not scale with tempo.

This content is only available via PDF.