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In a program for tabbing (but I use with MIDI creation) called Tuxguitar, I've written out a drum beat on hihats, and I'm pretty sure the bpm is correct, and everything SOUNDS correct, but I can't get it to loop measures. To get it to sound like one continuous looping flow, I had to duplicate the measure, and then I found for every measure, it added a 64th note, so I had to pull it back a bit.

I don't think this is such a complex beat that it needs to be copy-pasted and adjusted for EVERY measure, but I do think maybe I've got the time signature wrong. You see, in my head, if you change the time signature to make the measure end where it should, then it'll loop easily. But nothing I've tried worked.

Here is how it should sound (well except that the engine sucks so it sounds nothing like a hihat on export to wav)


And here's a picture of what's going on.


Any ideas?

Again, it's looping perfectly, and it's the right BPM, but I need a way to fit it all into just one measure so it can loop, a time signature, maybe multiple?.


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4 Answers

What seems to be causing the confusion here is a swing feel, used quite a lot in Jazz. It has caused me confusion in the past too.

Put simply it's when you take the 2 even quavers in each beat, lengthen the first one and shorten the second to give a smoother feel. It has a very distinctive sound usually (the wiki article can explain far better than I can)

here's how you play quavers in swing feel

It's an entire style by itself, with a ton of examples I'm sure you can find, but my favourite has to be in a Leonard Cohen classic.

So as you might already have noticed, what you essentially have there is a compound time rhythm so the triplet feel could also be interpreted in 6/8.

So to answer your question there are 2 ways you can notate it depending on whether your intent is to have a 4/4 feel or a 6/8 feel (though duplet/triplet feel is a more technically accurate wording).

In 4/4 (with a swing feel) you would notate the pattern like this Swing feel drum beat notated in 4/4

And in 6/8 you would notate the pattern like this Swing feel drum beat notated in 6/8

I've uploaded the sound as it's notated in this way(here). If it's not what you meant let me know and I'll have a rethink :)

As for using it with Tuxguitar, I'm afraid I've never used it, but it should be able to handle both methods of notating.

edit: I also this nice video on swing rhythms, though it is on piano.

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Unfortunately, this is what might be the actual idea but not what is given in the sound file.. –  percusse Jul 30 '13 at 14:56
Thanks @percusse, I'll upload a soundfile to SoundCloud and ask if that's what was intended. –  Alexander Troup Jul 30 '13 at 15:05
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It looks like your problem is coming in the notation of beat 3. You have 16th rest, two 16th triplets and two 16th triplet rests. Assuming the last two notes attacked are supposed to fall on beat 4 and its upbeat, this leaves beat 3 missing a tiny subdivision, a 32nd triplet. To fix that you would just need the last 16th triplet rest of beat 3 to be a regular 16th rest (not a triplet).

I'm guessing that your software was making an approximation to fill space the space that you thought was empty at the end of your measure. It should also not loop as well as you might think, as it is off from a normal pulse (by that 32nd triplet). You could hear this if you tried to sync it with another MIDI device or if you just put a metronome on against the loop they would eventually fall out of sync.

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If I'm hearing correctly (because it's kind of too fast to hear for me to judge the spaces between 16ths) it can be written as below (with some random notation site I've found online www.noteflight.com )

enter image description here

I don't know what software settings are available but you need to turn the swing option on. Otherwise the triplets are placed onto a 32nd note grid with those crazy alignment artifacts. Moreover I don't know if you did it deliberately but the two beats at the end of first bar and the first two in the second bar sound like not swung enough hence the difficulty of transcibing them.

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Here is what I believe is the most accurate and idiomatic notation for the audio example you have given:


As others have mentioned, swing 8th notes can be notated in many different ways. I have decided to notate your swung notes as dotted 8th - 16th pairs because it is common to do this when the swung note is particularly late, and also in order to differentiate the rhythmic placement of the last 8th note of the first measure. In your audio example, that note comes earlier in the beat than the rest of the swung 8th notes.

Others have mentioned triplet notation. The nuance of the use of these notations is very contextual. When reading jazz music, you will only really see swung triplets written out when the style of music is not swing to begin with (i.e. playing a latin chart), because that is the most typical rhythmic interpretation of swing, and is the implied interpretation for 8th notes all in a row. When reading music in a non-jazz (or more "classical") context, you will see triplet notation when the composer wants a swing rhythm to be played by non-jazz-trained players.

Back in the jazz context, however, you -will- see dotted 8th - 16th notation written out when the swung note is particularly late, and especially at lower tempos. Where the swing is not as strongly laid-back, you would just see 8th notes.

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I didn't realise there were times when swing rhythm was assumed rather than written out, crazy jazzers –  Alexander Troup Jul 30 '13 at 22:12
Strangely enough, all my drum books about swing use triplet notation. –  percusse Jul 31 '13 at 2:15
If the books are meant to teach you different grooves, that's understandable -- they just want you to play the rhythms exactly as written. But as someone who has been playing jazz for over a decade, I guarantee you that nearly all published charts and lead sheets use swing 8th note notation. For example. –  NReilingh Jul 31 '13 at 3:46
I think we need to reset or sync our terminology ;) A syncopation chart is not drum notation for me as a drummer. Jim Chapin, Gary Chester books are all syncopation books for me, but say, any other modern drum book that teaches technique etc. is a drum notation with everything in place cymbals, kick drums etc. –  percusse Jul 31 '13 at 7:37
I don't have a lot of experience with drumset pedagogy literature... I just know what I would expect to see on a big band drumset part (or "chart"). –  NReilingh Jul 31 '13 at 22:40
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