Jazz School: Swing

In many Jazz styles (except jazz rock, latin jazz, and jazz ballads), it is customary to "swing" the eighth notes. Swing is produced by two essential elements: a triple-feel swing rhythm and syncopation...

"Straight" Reading: Straight 8ths Without Syncopation

It is common practice on Jazz charts to write eighth notes as "straight" eighths as follows...

swing straight eighths

Here it is played "as written"...

"Swing" Reading: Swing 8ths With Syncopation

... but, in order to be performed in true swing rhythm, accurate music notation does not really exist. If accurate notation did exist, it might look something like this:

swing eighths

In summary, it is customary to simplify the notation to make the music easier to read, with the full understanding that those who know how to interpret jazz will know that the music needs to "swing" -- a rhythm that you can feel, but will have a hard time capturing with existing music notation. Welcome to the inner circle of those in the know!