I am arranging a piece for big band, and I want a section that is being played "straight" (no swing) to immediately be followed by a section with double time swing. Is it necessary to include the metric modulation pictured below, or would it be acceptable to simply write "Double-time swing" on the score?

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3 Answers 3


There’s no need for the metric modulation, saying “swing” is all you need, after all, swinging is what big bands do (at least I hope!).

There is a distinction however between double time and double time feel. If you are switching to 8th notes for walking bass and 16ths for swing 8ths, that is double time feel. The pulse stays the same. Pure double time is like going from 4/4 to cut time, or 2/2. The measures go by twice as fast. Experienced jazz players are comfortable with both.

Notation conventions in jazz and pop are not quite as cut and dried as they are in classical music. Different composers and arrangers may take different approaches to notating your particular issue.

If I am reading or writing music I like for it to look like what it sounds like if that makes sense. For example if I’m playing walking bass I want to read quarter notes not eighth notes, even though that is sometimes done like @Aaron says. I know a lot of players feel the same way I do. For that reason I prefer to just use or see “double time swing”, preferably with the addition of a metronome marking that reflects that. Some will use a cut time symbol but many arrangers don’t do that, they just say “double time” and stay in 4/4.

In the end either solution will work, think about what you would prefer to see if you are sight reading.


The metric notation is unnecessary, and possibly confusing, since it isn't generally used. Most jazz charts would just say "double time swing" (and, more likely than not, notate the lead parts in eighth notes — see John Belzaguy regarding using quarter notes for the bass).

One option would be to use a [quarter-note] = [twice as fast as previous speed] along with "swing".


Might be the sheet music I've looked at lately, but I've only ever seen 16th-note swing instead of double-time swing. Both mean the same thing, but the first is a lot more intuitive to figure out (at least IMO).

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