If you are writing for jazz swing, there is an easy way to get the eighth notes to swing, or be interpreted in a triplet feel.

Check out the way that a typical jazz swing pattern is written for drums:

The is the way it is interpreted in jazz:

Both Finale and Sibelius can make this interpretation provided the correct setting is used.

Finale:  Swing Playback

There are a couple of ways to get swing playback in Finale. The first is to choose the Human Playback option Swing. From the MIDI/Audio menu choose Human PlayBack and then choose “Jazz.”

The other way to set the style is to use the Expression tool and choose Tempo Text. The advantage of doing it this way is you can change the style during the piece. In other words, say the piece starts with swing eighth notes but then changes later in the tune to even eighths. Using Expressions, you can change the style as needed. Here is how it works:

  1. Choose the Expression Tool.
  2. Select Tempo Marks
  3. Make a selection from the menu or create your own. To create your own, click “Create Tempo Mark.”
  4. This marking will then effect the playback style. You can then insert a new Tempo mark later in the piece.

Sibelius:  Swing Playback

The steps for adjusting the swing style in Sibelius is very similar to the option described, above in Finale.

  1. Press Esc. to clear the cursor of any previous selection
  2. Choose Text > Styles > Tempo.

3. Click the mouse in the bar where you want the marking to appear.

4.  Right-click the mouse and choose one of the jazz options, or type the word “Swing.”  You can then insert a new Tempo mark later in the piece.