swingable, adj.
/swing/, v., swung, swinging, n., adj.
1. to cause to move to and fro, sway, or oscillate, as something suspended from above: to swing one's arms in walking.
2. to cause to move in alternate directions or in either direction around a fixed point, on an axis, or on a line of support, as a door on hinges.
3. to move (the hand or something held) with an oscillating or rotary movement: to swing one's fists; to swing a club around one's head.
4. Aeron. to pull or turn (a propeller) by hand, esp. in order to start the engine.
5. to turn in a new direction in a curve, as if around a central point: to swing the car into the driveway.
6. to suspend so as to hang freely, as a hammock or a door.
7. Informal. to influence or win over; manage or arrange as desired: to swing votes; to swing a business deal.
8. to direct, change, or shift (one's interest, opinion, support, etc.).
9. to turn (a ship or aircraft) to various headings in order to check compass deviation.
10. to move or sway to and fro, as a pendulum or other suspended object.
11. to move to and fro in a swing, as for recreation.
12. to move in alternate directions or in either direction around a point, an axis, or a line of support, as a gate on its hinges.
13. to move in a curve, as around a corner or central point: The highway swings to the east.
14. to move with a free, swaying motion, as soldiers on the march.
15. to be suspended so as to hang freely, as a bell or hammock.
16. to move by grasping a support with the hands and drawing up the arms or using the momentum of the swaying body: a monkey swinging through trees.
17. to change or shift one's attention, interest, opinion, condition, etc.: He swung from mere indifference to outright scorn.
18. to hit at someone or something, with the hand or something grasped in the hand: The batter swung and struck out.
19. Slang.
a. to be characterized by a modern, lively atmosphere: Las Vegas swings all year.
b. to be stylish, trendy, hip, etc., esp. in pursuing enjoyment.
c. to engage uninhibitedly in sexual activity.
d. (of married couples) to exchange partners for sexual activity.
20. Informal. to suffer death by hanging: He'll swing for the crime.
21. swing round the circle, to tour an area on a political campaign.
22. the act, manner, or progression of swinging; movement in alternate directions or in a particular direction.
23. the amount or extent of such movement: to correct the swing of a pendulum.
24. a curving movement or course.
25. a moving of the body with a free, swaying motion, as in walking.
26. a blow or stroke with the hand or an object grasped in the hands: His swing drove the ball over the fence.
27. a change or shift in attitude, opinion, behavior, etc.
28. a steady, marked rhythm or movement, as of verse or music.
29. a regular upward or downward movement in the price of a commodity or of a security, or in any business activity.
30. Informal.
a. a work period coming between the regular day and night shifts.
b. a change by a group of workers from working one shift to working another.
31. freedom of action: to have free swing in carrying out a project.
32. active operation; progression: to get into the swing of things.
33. something that is swung or that swings.
34. a seat suspended from above by means of a loop of rope or between ropes or rods, on which one may sit and swing to and fro for recreation.
35. the maximum diameter of the work machinable in a certain lathe or other machine tool.
36. in full swing, operating at the highest speed or level of activity; in full operation: Automobile production is in full swing.
37. take a swing at, to strike or attempt to strike with the fist: to take a swing at a rude waiter.
38. of or pertaining to a swing.
39. capable of determining the outcome, as of an election; deciding: the swing vote.
40. designed or constructed to permit swinging or hanging.
41. acting to relieve other workers when needed, as at night.
[bef. 900; ME swingen (v.), OE swingan; c. G schwingen]
Syn. 10. SWING, SWAY, OSCILLATE, ROCK suggest a movement back and forth. SWING expresses the comparatively regular motion to and fro of a body supported from the end or ends, esp. from above: A lamp swings from the ceiling. TO SWAY is to swing gently and is used esp. of fixed objects or of persons: Young oaks sway in the breeze. OSCILLATE refers to the smooth, regular, alternating movement of a body within certain limits between two fixed points. ROCK indicates the slow and regular movement back and forth of a body, as on curved supports: A cradle rocks. 22. sway, vibration, oscillation. 23. range, scope, sweep, play.
/swing/, n., adj., v., swung, swinging.
1. Also called Big Band music, swing music. a style of jazz, popular esp. in the 1930s and often arranged for a large dance band, marked by a smoother beat and more flowing phrasing than Dixieland and having less complex harmonies and rhythms than modern jazz.
2. the rhythmic element that excites dancers and listeners to move in time to jazz music.
3. of, pertaining to, or characteristic of swing: a swing record.
4. to play (music) in the style of swing.
[special use of SWING1]

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Jazz played with a steady beat using the harmonic structure of popular songs and the blues as the basis for improvisations and arrangements.

The popular music of the U.S. from about 1930 to 1945 (years sometimes called the swing era), swing is characterized by syncopated rhythmic momentum with equal stress accorded to the four beats of a measure. Larger jazz bands required some arranged material, and Fletcher Henderson, Duke Ellington, and Count Basie were the primary innovators of big-band swing. In smaller ensembles, improvised instrumental solos generally follow a rendering of the melody.

* * *

      in music, both the rhythmic impetus of jazz music and a specific jazz idiom prominent between about 1935 and the mid-1940s—years sometimes called the swing era. Swing music has a compelling momentum that results from musicians' attacks and accenting in relation to fixed beats. Swing rhythms defy any narrower definition, and the music has never been notated exactly.

      Swing is sometimes considered a partial dilution of the jazz tradition because it organized musicians into larger groups (commonly 12 to 16 players) and required them to play a far higher proportion of written music than had been thought compatible with the fundamentally improvisatory character of jazz. Nevertheless, it was the first jazz idiom that proved commercially successful. The swing era also brought respectability to jazz, moving into the ballrooms of America a music that until that time had been associated with the brothels of New Orleans and the Prohibition-era gin mills of Chicago.

      The big swing bands organized their players into sections of brass, reeds, and rhythm and hired skilled orchestrators to write music for them. This structure encouraged a relatively simple compositional technique: sections were played off against each other, sometimes in counterpoint, sometimes in musical dialogue. A popular device was the riff, a simple musical phrase reiterated by a band or by a section in counterpoint with other sections' riffing until, by sheer power of repetition, it became almost hypnotic. The bands led by the black pianist Fletcher Henderson (Henderson, Fletcher) in the 1920s were especially important in disseminating these musical ideas, which were picked up by white orchestras riding the later tide of swing's popularity. Henderson and his brother Horace remained among the most influential swing arrangers of the following decade. Equally as important was Duke Ellington (Ellington, Duke), whose music was infused with a unique range of harmonies and sound colours.

      As the wind basses and banjos characteristic of earlier jazz were replaced in the swing band of the 1930s by stringed basses and guitars, the effect of the rhythm section became lighter, and musicians accustomed to playing in 2/2metre adapted to 4/4metre. The flowing, evenly accented metres of Count Basie (Basie, Count)'s band proved especially influential in this regard.

      The swing era was in many ways an exercise in public relations. To succeed on a national scale, a band—especially its leader—had to be commercially exploitable; in this period of U.S. history, this meant that its leader and members had to be white. Although several black orchestras—e.g., those of Basie, Ellington (Ellington, Duke), Chick Webb (Webb, Chick), and Jimmie Lunceford (Lunceford, Jimmie)—became famous during the period, the swing age was in the main a white preserve whose outstanding bandleaders included Benny Goodman (Goodman, Benny), Harry James (James, Harry), Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey (Dorsey, Jimmy), and Glenn Miller (Miller, Glenn). Although Goodman was billed as the “King of Swing,” the best band was that of Ellington, and Basie's was perhaps next.

      Concurrent with the big-band craze came a flowering of the solo art among both small-group musicians, such as pianists Fats Waller (Waller, Fats) and Art Tatum (Tatum, Art) and guitarist Django Reinhardt (Reinhardt, Django), and big-band players with after-hours careers. The great virtuosos of the second category included saxophonists Lester Young (Young, Lester), Johnny Hodges (Hodges, Johnny), Benny Carter (Carter, Benny), Coleman Hawkins (Hawkins, Coleman), and Ben Webster (Webster, Ben); trumpeters Roy Eldridge (Eldridge, Roy), Buck Clayton (Clayton, Buck), Henry (“Red”) Allen, (Allen, Henry) and Cootie Williams (Williams, Cootie); pianists Teddy Wilson and Earl Hines (Hines, Earl); guitarist Charlie Christian (Christian, Charlie); bassists Walter Page (Page, Walter) and Jimmy Blanton (Blanton, Jimmy); trombonists Jack Teagarden (Teagarden, Jack) and Dicky Wells (Wells, Dicky); and singer Billie Holiday (Holiday, Billie).

      The swing era was the last great flowering of jazz before its period of harmonic experimentation. At its best, swing achieved an art of improvisation in which current harmonic conventions counterbalanced the stylistic individuality of its great creators. The swing era also coincided with the greatest popularity of dance bands in general. But when singers who began as swing stylists, such as Frank Sinatra (Sinatra, Frank), Nat King Cole (Cole, Nat King), Peggy Lee, and Sarah Vaughan (Vaughan, Sarah), became more popular than the swing bands they sang with, the swing era came to an end. The harmonic experimentation of the late swing era, evident in, for example, the Woody Herman (Herman, Woody) and Charlie Barnet (Barnet, Charlie) bands of the early 1940s, presaged the next development in jazz: bop, or bebop.

Additional Reading
Gunther Schuller, The Swing Era: The Development of Jazz, 1930–1945 (1989), is a wide-ranging work of history and criticism. Interviews with numerous swing-era musicians are collected in Stanley Dance, The World of Duke Ellington (1970, reprinted 1981), The World of Swing (1974), The World of Earl Hines (1977, reprinted 1983), and The World of Count Basie (1980).

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Universalium. 2010.

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