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Webcomic / SWAP Ensemble

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A webcomic created by JazzLover5972 (formerly PinkPeonyPie5972), also known as Phily K. Illagan. It is hosted on DeviantArt. It began on July 16, 2014. The entire structure is inspired by Battle for Dream Island.

Caroline Doctrina starts an odd music program called SWAP (String, Wind, And Percussion) Ensemble under the orders of Tierney Cabalbag. Those who participate must come to rehearsals every day of February for two hours. There is a big solo, but everyone wants it, so they must settle it with a contest. However, not every challenge has to do with music.

Childhood friends reunite, Clashing Cousins fight, and new relationships form as the competition goes on. Meanwhile, Caroline tries and fails to keep her patience with the kids and her superiors while she runs the show.

You can view the comic here.


SWAP Ensemble provides examples of:

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    Tropes A-F 
  • Aerith and Bob: People named Cyrissa and Turie go to school with others named Cassie and Troy, to name a few. Even the adults are split between the ordinary Caroline and Samuel and the strange Tierney and Philyra.
  • Age Is Relative: While the contestants' ages are explicit, they don't all look their ages. Patrick is in eighth grade, but he is often helpless and looks much younger than all the seventh graders. Troy and Turie, on the other hand, make it past the first phase of the competition and could pass for high school students.
  • All There in the Manual: How do you know that the year is 128 and Everyone Is Related? You read the description below each deviation! Specifically, look at page 11 of Day 8 and the Infinitree drawing.
  • Alliterative Title: Day 12's new name is "Round Robin Reading", referring to the round-robin collaborations and the sight-reading challenge.
  • Alternative Calendar: The story explicitly takes place in the year 128, but it is technologically 20 Minutes into the Future.
  • And There Was Much Rejoicing: In a non-lethal example, most of the students chant Troy's elimination announcement.
  • April Fools' Day:
    • In 2019, a "finale" was released. Patrick points out that the "orange contestant" always wins, citing Firey, Orange Juice, and Ivy Fisher. Caroline names orange-haired Guilla the winner upon hearing this. There are several tells that this is a joke: The word "finale" is purposely misspelled, Patrick's speech color appears when Flo is depicted and vice versa, and all of the art had previously been used in Days 7 and 8.
    • In 2021, Day 18 was in its voting period. A joke Day 19 page was released, in which most of the audience votes were lost and Ellen Ottavi was selected to rejoin despite being a non-contestant. The chapter title is "In Prom Two", a corruption of the actual title, "Impromptu".
    • In 2022, a joke page was released when Claire and Paris were supposed to present their drawings in Day 21. Paris drew a crewmate, to which Claire responded with an uncharacteristic "What the actual HECK?!". A brief voting period followed to influence Philyra's immunity pick.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking:
    • Caroline states that Cassie was eliminated for being The Generic Guy, having a romance with Cedric, and playing the saxophone.
    • Carella waltzes into the band room and baits Alfred into trying to punch her so he would fall over, harasses Harry, belittles Vincent for wearing a transgender pride shirt, calls Trudy a slur regarding her intellect, brings up Braeden's deceased older sister, and calls Bessie fat.
  • Art Evolution: The characters have wider eyes and more distinctive features than they did back on the first day.
  • Art Shift:
    • "Explanation mode" is accompanied by much simpler illustrations of people.
    • The first two pages of Day 4 have lineart by Fenori. The title page was digitally drawn. The next six pages have digital lineart.
  • Ask a Stupid Question...: After Caroline states that there are rules, Alfred asks if there are any rules, much to her annoyance.
    Alfred: Miss Doctrina, does this contest have rules?
    Caroline: No, it doesn't. Feel free to do whatever.
    Alfred: Great. I was worried that I would have to deal with-
  • Audience Participation: Just like BFDI, SWAP Ensemble allows the audience to vote off a contestant at the end of each Day. Unfortunately, there isn't a large audience, so nearly all of the votes are from people who have never heard of the comic.
  • Audience Participation Failure: The contestants will almost always comment on the vote count, and Caroline will point out how few were actual audience votes or what Tie and Phily did to get that many votes.
  • Author Appeal: The author includes several musical tropes, makes references to several musical compositions, and averts Music Is Eighth Notes by drawing entire staves. Her tagline (as of August 2018) is "My world revolves around music!"
  • Author Avatar: Tierney and Philyra are the author's self-inserts. Their primary purpose is to collect votes from people who don't know about the contest.
  • Baseball Episode: Downplayed with Day 11. Baseball is one of the day's four challenges and takes up about five pages of the 26-page chapter.
  • Big "SHUT UP!": In Day 4, Trudy asks if Vincent got eliminated. When Vincent tells her off, the "shut up" is in larger text than the rest of his dialogue.
  • Big, Thin, Short Trio: Turie is one of the physically largest contestants, Troy is nearly as tall but much thinner, and Trudy is the second shortest contestant who does not even reach her friends' shoulders.
  • Birthday Episode: Day 16 (February 16) is Alfred's 18th birthday. It starts with a group of contestants surprising him when he enters the band room, much to his annoyance that this is far from the first surprise he has gotten that day. The challenge of the day is to decorate cakes, a fitting way to celebrate.
  • Blunt "Yes":
    • Vincent is about to respond as such when Carella asks if he trusts the word of a random boy (Harry) over her. She cuts him off.
    • A non-verbal one in Day 17. Flo strongly prefers to read flats over sharps, so she is upset when the key changes. Braeden offers a version of their piece with a double flat in the key signature. Before he can warn her about what a pain it could be to read, she snatches it aggressively.
  • Blush Sticker:
    • In Day 3, Cassie gets one when Gretta catches her staring at something or nothing at all.
    • This is Vincent's Crush Blush. The blush is much lighter than his skin.
  • Bowdlerize: The Tumblr version cuts out the spat with Vincent and Trudy.
  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: Philyra calls herself a rebel for shifting the voting bias away from Alfred, joining her high school's symphonic band as a TA, joining her college's wind ensemble without telling her parents, and walking to a jazz club at night all alone. In the description, she says she didn't tell her parents when her ear piercing was infected.
  • Call-Back:
    • In Day 7, Braeden and Troy name their teams with their propositions from Day 1. In Day 8, Bessie and Corbin name their teams with their teammates' propositions from Day 1.
    • Troy's elimination in Day 9 uses the same "music" and confetti effect as Gretta's from Day 7.
  • Can't Catch Up: The rhythmic and melodic dictation challenges have a scoring system that dooms a disadvantaged team from the start. After each round, the four contestants with the lowest scores are dropped. This continues until an entire team is dropped. The individual contestants who did not do well at the start will never catch up to those who got perfect scores. The team falls several points behind for each lost contestant.
  • Cast Herd: Characters are often grouped by instrument family, school, or pre-existing relationships. Some, like Guilla, are less confined by the cast herd because the people in each of the aforementioned categories are different.
  • Catchphrase Interruptus: In Day 16, Philyra interrupts Caroline's "Practice Room" opening to deliver more votes. Caroline never finishes it; the segment is opened by BFDI's points "Cake at Stake" instead.
  • Clothing-Concealed Injury:
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience:
    • The characters all speak with unique colors. Caroline has blue, Tierney has maroon, Philyra has a dark magenta, and Samuel has a light brown. Pages 14 and 15 can serve as a cipher for the twenty contestants.
    • The voting squares usually have colors that each contestant is closely associated with. When Caroline lets the contestants toss the voting squares on the board, one of them realizes that they didn't get any votes when they see that the remaining two colors have never been associated with them.
  • Competence Zone: The younger contestants generally have less developed skills, so the teams with more young contestants tend to go up for elimination. The history test is particularly unfair because music history is not even in the middle school curriculum.
  • Contrived Coincidence: The trios in Day 17 all use the leitmotifs of the performers as shown in Day 14, except for Flo, who performed with a generic method book. In particular, Cassie, Connie, and Claire mention how "Perfectionism" intersects with all of their heritages in passing.
  • Coordinated Clothes: Bessie and Braeden sometimes wear the same clothes. It doesn't matter if the clothes are "meant" for the opposite gender.
  • Cover Innocent Eyes and Ears: Bessie clamps her hands over Claire's ears twice: when Philyra talks about the time she walked alone at night and when Guilla and Braeden sing the vulgar lyrics of "Fantastic Musical Listening".
  • Cross-Referenced Titles:
    • Day 3, a rhythmic dictation competition, is titled "I Got Rhythm". Day 5, a melodic dictation competition, is titled "I Got Melody".
    • Day 12 was originally titled "Class v. Jazz Round" to reference Day 2, "Class vs. Jazz".
  • Crush Blush:
    • Harry's face turns completely red when Angelo questions his relationship with Claire.
    • Vincent gets a Blush Sticker when Paris passes him on the track and winks. It happens again when Paris takes off his hat to show his re-dyed hair.
    • Cassie gets a Luminescent Blush after looking through pictures of her boyfriend and the resident Big Beautiful Woman.
  • Curse Cut Short: Contestants' swearing is often interrupted by other contestants' speech.
  • Cute, but Cacophonic: The portable eighth-note-shaped synthesizers known as otamatones make an appearance in Day 11. Claire gushes at the sight of one, but reacts unfavorably at the sound of it.
    Claire: It sounds like it's in pain.
  • Destructive Romance: Carella is a very emotionally abusive girlfriend to Vincent, and she gives him a Traumatic Haircut.
  • Different in Every Episode:
    • One would expect the characters to change clothes every day. One would not expect Guilla's hair to change so dramatically every day.
    • The band room has a detailed arrangement on its walls, much of which is liable to change on any given day. Sometimes the plaques and posters are rearranged, taken down, or restored.
  • Digital Bikini: The humanoid blobs in Day 7's explanation mode wear digitally edited clothes in the Tumblr version.
  • The Dog Bites Back: After Trudy tries to beat up Vincent in Day 6, Vincent overpowers her and punches her in the face.
  • Double-Meaning Title: "Perfect Pitching" refers to Day 11's four challenges: making a sales pitch, pitching a tent, pitching a baseball, and producing a note with the correct pitch.
  • Dude Looks Like a Lady: Vincent, who wears a bow and has somewhat long hair, and Alfred, a Wholesome Crossdresser, are sometimes mistaken for girls.
  • Early-Bird Cameo:
    • Lerato Illagan is mentioned and depicted one day before he makes a formal appearance.
    • Piena Baker plays a small role in Day 16, which was released long before her appearance in Behind Closed Doors.
    • Melodia Raven is briefly mentioned in Day 20 as the mayor of a small town and the composer of the classical piece of the day. She would become the president and Corbin's political rival in Back to the Basement.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: As the comic goes on, more features change. The first two days were not lined with ink. Everyone had narrower eyes. Trudy did not have a beauty mark, and Corbin did not have an Idiot Hair. Gretta was shorter than Guilla and Cedric. Claire did not mind when people outside of her friend group called her by her first name, though she rarely spoke with such people anyway.
  • Eliminated from the Race: From Day 14 onwards, the structure changes to a blend of this and Voted Off the Island. The contestants gain points based on their performance in the challenge, then the audience votes in favor of a product of that challenge. The contestant who has the least points by the next Practice Room segment is eliminated.
  • Elimination Catchphrase: The banner itself is the catchphrase; Caroline may vary her words, but she always tells the eliminated contestant that they have to go to
  • Elimination Statement: Some contestants argue about their elimination with Caroline before they go to The Practice Room.
  • Enemy Mine: Trudy and Vincent stand up for each other by confronting Carella and Viola respectively.
  • Everyone Can See It: People constantly make remarks about Claire and Harry's relationship, much to their annoyance.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Even though Guilla is usually sporting her trademark trollish grin, she is among the few who do not laugh when Troy mocks Patrick for comparing SWAP to an object show.
  • Everyone Is Related: There are three sets of siblings: Inez, Tempo, and Violon. There are more sets of cousins: Vincent and Trudy. Cyrissa and Guilla. Inez, Angelo, and Paris, who all share a cousin with Corbin. In fact, every character in this comic fits on a single (gigantic) family tree.
  • Everyone Meets Everyone: While most of the characters know each other, Caroline brings them together to become a musical ensemble and to compete for the big solo.
  • Exact Words: During the challenge to build a metronome tower, Team Showdown builds a tower in the shape of a metronome.
  • Eye Scream: Downplayed. All of the brass students end up with a black left eye by Day 8, though they all heal by the following week.
    • In Day 5, Turie happens to be in the line of fire when Trudy throws Vincent's wallet.
    • In Day 6, Trudy gets a punch to the face, courtesy of Vincent.
    • In the same day, Corbin cleans his glasses in the middle of the basketball game. The basketball hits him in the face.
    • In Day 8, Troy builds a very unstable tower and disregards the rest of his team. When Caroline places the metronome, the tower falls and the metronome lands on his face.
  • Facepalm: Caroline is prone to this when the contestants agitate her. Some contestants also do this when they are up for elimination.
  • Fantastic Ghetto: "Ghetto" is slang for areas with a large number of non-music-benders. SWAP is set in such an area. Caroline remarks that the district doesn't value music history in education.
  • Fantasy World Map: In Day 21, Trudy pulls out a world map for a family heritage assignment. It has three distinct colors for "continents", though the east-most continent doesn't have a dominant landmass. It reveals that the home setting, Clavier, is in the southern hemisphere.
  • Fictional Currency: Currency appears as red bills called "C", which lines up with the designated color of the continent.
  • Fictional Video Game: Diskaryote is a Phonýmon franchise that is on its ninth generation but lacks some mons from earlier generations. It also has a Pokémon Masters equivalent called Diskarya Champs.
  • First-Name Basis: Most people are on a first-name basis. Some of the older contestants refer to the adults like this to emphasize that the age gap isn't that large.
  • Five-Second Foreshadowing: The soon-to-be eliminated contestant is always present in the introduction.
  • Flipping the Bird: In Day 6, Trudy shows Vincent a finger after he throws her trumpet mute at a wall. The finger has a colored nail, and her middle fingernail is shown to be the only colored one. If not for that, the finger she uses would be ambiguous.
  • Friendly Scheming: On Alfred's birthday, Day 16, Guilla gets several of his friends to surprise him every time he enters a classroom. By the time he gets to the band room for SWAP Ensemble, he's tired of it.
  • Food as Bribe: Team Random wins the chemistry challenge by making ice cream, despite the demonstration being half as long as the other two.
  • Friendly Fire: When Trudy throws Vincent's wallet during a fight, it ends up in Turie's eye.
  • Fully-Clothed Nudity: Cedric enters the band room closet and sees Cassie in her underwear, so she screams and tells him to knock next time. Said underwear consists of a tank top and shorts.
  • Fun with Acronyms:
    • SWAP stands for String, Wind, and Percussion. It's a snappy way to include the different types of instruments in the name of the group.
    • Bessie's Day 14 recital piece is called "Fantastic Musical Listening." The acronym is not an accident. The song itself is more about the acronym than the title.

    Tropes G-P 
  • Gale-Force Sound: Double subverted. Day 12 opens with Cassie opening the band room door in the middle of a trumpet sectional. The ensuing chaos is actually the result of music-bending. Day 13 opens with Claire doing the same in the middle of a trombone sectional, but there is no indication that music-bending was used.
  • Given Name Reveal: In Day 14, the hints of reincarnation suggest that Connie and Cassie's first names are Contrary and Cassiopeia, respectively.
  • The Glomp:
    • In Day 3, Angelo uses music to propel himself towards Bessie and hug her when he's declared safe.
    • After Caroline goes Totally Radical for the practice of Day 7, Harry does this to Claire.
    • When Cassie re-enters the competition, she hugs Caroline with gratefulness.
  • The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry: The final page of Day 10 introduces Angelo's sisters. Marianna is focused on her studies and trying to finish her project, while Josefina enjoys a social life.
  • Goggles Do Something Unusual: The students have glasses akin to Google Glass. They can operate their glasses while wearing them, or they can take them off and use them like smartphones.
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck!:
    • Vincent's Big "SHUT UP!" carries the same weight as an actual swear word with the benefit of being uncensored. Trudy learns the Harmonie (French) equivalent to get away with saying it.
    • When Troy is on the phone with his father, begging for him to show up on Valentine's Day, it is implied that a bad history with Turie's father is keeping him from going. Troy responds, "I don't care about your dumb history!" Turie treats it like a curse word.
    • Claire actually uses the word "heck" in an out-of-character moment in a joke page.
  • Gratuitous Foreign Language: Claire calls Bessie "Ate" (pronounced a-te), which is Tagalog for "older sister". Bessie later calls Claire "Bunso", which means "youngest child".
  • Gratuitous French:
    • In Day 6, Trudy tells Vincent "Tais-toi!" (Shut up!) when Vincent calls her elimination.
    • In Day 17, Philyra says a lengthy French sentence while ranting about how Guilla broke into her laptop.
  • Green Rooming: Starting in Day 9, friends and relatives of the contestants are introduced in the stingers and shelved until the Day 14 mid-season special.
  • Hands Go Down: Inverted. Caroline wants the students to compete for a solo, but only five of them are interested. As she keeps talking, more people express interest. Once Flo is the only one left, Caroline engages in small talk with her until she agrees to participate.
  • Hate Sink: Carella Watanabe antagonizes several contestants in different ways and is a very abusive girlfriend to Vincent. Even her sister refuses to sympathize with her.
  • Her Boyfriend's Jacket: Gender Inverted. In Day 8, Braeden wears Bessie's custom-tailored jacket. It is painfully obvious that it isn't his.
  • His Name Really Is "Barkeep": Downplayed. Day 16 introduces Laika Baker, the ROP Baking and Pastry Fundamentals teacher. She married into that name.
  • Imaginary Love Triangle: In Day 3, Angelo comments on Claire being sweet with Patrick, which has roots from eight years ago. Harry becomes jealous of their apparent history despite the lack of details.
  • Inconsistent Episode Lengths: Days range from 15 to 30 pages in length, with an erratic upward trend in length. Each phase has a higher average of pages per Day than the previous phase, but the page count jumps back and forth between the higher and lower ends each Day.
  • Insanely International Ancestry: Just about everyone has mixed ancestry to some degree, but the Notes musicians have recent ancestors from all four of the major groups: String, Woodwind, Brass, and Percussion. Trudy and Paris are specifically Notes musicians.
  • Inspiration Nod:
    • Once Caroline convinces all the students to desire the big solo, she says, "We must settle this with... A contest. Get what I mean?"
    • Caroline explains that the contest will have phases to give it an opaque structure. Cary Huang stated that future BFDI episodes would no longer have a points phase because the show would be too opaque.
    • Patrick asks if the contestants will get to choose team captains, and Troy rudely tells him that "this isn't an inanimate object show."
    • Cassie and Trudy's rejoin statements almost match Pin and Flower's word-for-word.
      Cassie: You need a heroic junior drum major like me.
      Trudy: You'd better vote for me or- or I'll-
    • In Day 8 and 9, Guilla sneaks up behind Cyrissa and Connie (respectively) and screeches in the way of Four from Battle For BFDI.
    • When Caroline tells Trudy how many rejoin votes she earned, Trudy asks if that's enough to win, just like Snowball in BFDI's third rejoin.
    • Day 16 is titled "Cake at Stake," the name of BFDI's elimination segment. After Philyra interrupts the opening of The Practice Room segment to deliver more votes, the segment opens with BFDI's points Cake at Stake segment. Caroline and Philyra then hold up some Four plushies because there were 44 votes.
    • Day 17 is titled "The Power of Three" after the BFB spinoff "The Power Of Two".
  • Internal Homage: Day 15's pages have a similar panel structure to those of Day 4.
A lot of the boys are small, nerdy, and interested in feminine articles of clothing. Vincent has a bow and long hair. Alfred always wears skirts. Angelo and Braeden sometimes wear fancy earrings.
  • Intro Dump: The first day dedicates two pages to the contestants introducing themselves in alphabetical order by last name. Each contestant states their name, grade, school, and primary instrument.
  • Kick the Dog:
    • Troy makes a rude comment to Patrick's question, causing the majority of the students to laugh and Patrick to permanently shut down.
    • Trudy grabs Vincent and messes with his hair while Caroline is explaining the rules of the contest. She continues to exchange rude remarks with him at every opportunity.
  • Lame Pun Reaction: In Day 4, Bessie makes a pun about Team Classic, much to Claire's annoyance. This draws in more of the friend group.
    Claire: Then maybe they should go back to the classics.
    Bessie: But we are the classics.
    Claire: Haha, Ate. Very funny, Ate.
    Angelo: I hear puns! I must join!
    Harry: Angelo, no!
    Claire: Do not join the pun team. Just don't.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: In Day 7, Troy disregards his team and builds the tower as tall as he can with no regard for stability. The tower predictably falls when Caroline places the metronome in it. The metronome falls on Troy's eye.
  • Like Reality, Unless Noted: SWAP Ensemble takes place in an entirely different world that revolves around music and has magic and near-futuristic technology. Despite this, the world appears to operate on a 24-hour day and 365-day year with several major American holidays. All the western symphony instruments exist, and the music follows western music theory. Snowy Pines High School has all the marks of a typical American high school. A Californian high school, to be specific, since the classrooms open to the outdoors.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Averted for most of the cast. It's not even an Unlimited Wardrobe; some contestants have reused outfits. Patrick, however, is always wearing the same black coat and pants, and he never removes his coat with his own free will.
  • LOL, 69: When Caroline tells the ensemble to play at three before measure 72, some people crack up. Caroline is unamused as she proceeds to tell them to start a measure earlier.
  • Luminescent Blush:
    • When Angelo starts talking about Claire and Patrick's history, Harry gets red shading and lines on his cheeks. The blush elements get larger until they take up all of Harry's face.
    • Cassie's Crush Blush in Day 7 is a pink shade across her face.
  • Lyrical Dissonance: "Fantastic Musical Listening" has a really chipper melody. The clean version of the song appears to be genuinely optimistic, but the vulgar version is a tirade about the poor quality of the composer's life.
  • Magic Music:
    • The contestants who are 14 and older will occasionally manipulate objects with their voices.
    • Alfred uses music to allow himself to walk.
    • The alternate challenge of Day 6 is to paint only with music.
  • Mark of the Supernatural:
  • Mental Time Travel: Philyra Implies this when she mentions having collected votes from her younger brother's marching band in the year 123, five years before SWAP Ensemble even happens.
  • Modesty Shorts: When Bessie spins around while wearing a skirt, it flies up to reveal that she's wearing shorts underneath. Similarly, when Guilla jumps up while wearing a skirt, it reveals some shorts that are barely shorter than the skirt itself.
  • Motion Comic: Of the secondary variant. From Day 8 onward, pages occasionally have animated effects. Most notable are The Practice Room segment in Day 10, which has a fully animated voting display, and Day 11, whose pages are almost entirely in GIF format.
  • Musical Theme Naming: All the characters' initials are based on their primary instrument. Claire Inez is specifically an attempt to avoid the "Claire E. Net" route. Several last names are also explicitly musical: Bassa, Cors, Forte, Harmony, Sound, Tempo, and Violon.
  • Music Is Eighth Notes: Averted. Music is represented by actual notes on staves. If music is not properly represented, it is shown as just the staff.
  • Music Stories: The entire competition is based around music, and even the non-musical challenges incorporate music in some way.
  • Necktie Leash: In Day 8, Trudy grabs Troy's tie and comments on its color. The massive height difference forces Troy to duck down.
  • No Accounting for Taste: Vincent and Carella really don't seem attracted to each other. Vincent is demonstrably far more interested in Paris, and Carella harasses Harry right in front of Vincent.
  • No Dress Code: Zig-zagged. There is an apparent lack of a shoulder taboo for both genders, and the bustier girls would show a bit of cleavage in anything that isn't a crewneck. Short shorts magically go past the fingertips. It's possible that the dress code only applies during school hours, as all the characters have jackets to cover up. Characters always change to practical clothes when the challenge calls for it, and a lab dress code is strictly enforced for the challenge in Day 9.
  • No Historical Figures Were Harmed: Bessie's recital piece was composed by Beth Oven, which is an obvious play on Beethoven. The woman is implied to be hard of hearing because she holds an ear horn, and her outfit takes some small cues from Beethoven's time.
  • Nonconformist Dyed Hair: Inverted with the percussionists, who dye their hair to fit in with their fellow Magic Music users since they lack a natural hair stripe. Zigzagged with Paris, who's naturally a blonde but initially dyes his hair to a reasonable black before changing to bright red mid-season.
  • Not So Above It All: Once Cassie discovers that Caroline is manipulating the music, everyone joins in on the chaotic butchering of the music. Even the emotionless Flo, the quiet Patrick, the antic-hating Claire, and the refined Corbin participate.
  • One Degree of Separation: Everyone Is Related aside, Cassie and Cedric are middle school friends, Claire is childhood friends with Cyrissa's younger sister, and Trudy is tutored by Corbin's younger sister and Harry, among other things.
  • One Head Taller: Claire, a girl of average height, towers over Tiny Schoolboy Harry. Likewise, Cedric, a boy of average height, is much taller than the rather short Cassie.
  • Orwellian Retcon: Day 12 was renamed from "Class v. Jazz Round" to "Round Robin Reading" a year and a half after it was released. Shortly after, Gretta's surname was changed from Basettie to Bashford to make it less similar to Connie's surname.
  • Painting the Medium: The borders of the panels are usually not clear-cut. Sometimes people might go over the borders, while other times they might grab the borders like the top of a fence. Bessie even sits on one border.
  • The Password Is Always "Swordfish": Averted in the "Infiltration" bonus strip, in which Guilla breaks into Philyra's laptop to hijack her social media accounts. Guilla and Cyrissa briefly discuss the strength of the password, which Guilla claims is predictable and Cyrissa thinks is complicated, but the password itself is not shown.
  • People of Hair Color: Music benders tend to resemble their primary instruments, which are races in this world. The brass are light-skinned and blonde with silver streaks, the woodwinds are tan with black hair and silver or blonde streaks, and the strings are dark-skinned and brunette with black streaks. In addition, Braeden has dark red bassoon-colored hair, Guilla the guitarist has ginger hair in contrast with the four-stringed instruments, and the flutes have silver hair with no colored streak. The percussionists and non-music-benders look like ordinary humans with no pre-defined special characteristics.
  • Picked Last: The Three-Team/Shuffle phase makes contestants choose their teams. Naturally, the last person will not be happy.
    • In Day 8, the string players realize they were picked last in absentia when Caroline tells them they have been split into different teams. When Cedric asks if he specifically was picked last, Caroline says that he isn't very interesting.
    • After the competition, Troy yells at Corbin for not picking him before he ended up on Claire's team.
    • In Day 9, some team leaders are clearly considering picking Paris, but their teammates tell them not to until Paris is the only option left. Alfred uses this fact in his defense when Paris calls him out.
  • Posthumous Sibling: Braeden's older sister, Abigail, died fourteen years ago in the 8th Grade Wars. His younger sister, Calina, is in fourth grade.
  • The Pratfall: Claire falls like this twice in Day 11. First, Angelo sits next to her, and she keeps scooting away until she's sitting on air, then she falls when she tries to go any farther. Next, she jumps in the air during the competition, causing her to fall and miss the final notes.
  • Precision F-Strike: In a work where even Gosh Dang It to Heck! isn't used, Vincent's Big "SHUT UP!" stands out even more. So does Claire's uncharacteristic use of "heck" in a joke page.
  • Punch Catch: When Trudy tries to punch Vincent for stating that she doesn't have enough votes to rejoin, Vincent catches her fist in both hands.

    Tropes R-Z 
  • Rainbow Speak: In lieu of speech bubbles, every character has a unique speech color. Even when speech bubbles become a permanent feature starting with Day 17, the bubbles are made to work for the speech colors.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: The red-eyed students may be either excessively bubbly or huge jerks. Either way, the other contestants may regret being in their presence so much.
  • Reincarnation: In Day 14, most of the contestants play pieces composed by someone with the same first name and similar appearance to them. Claire Regi has been confirmed as Claire Inez's past incarnation, so it is implied that the others are as well.
  • Self-Deprecation: The description of each page often includes "sins," a laundry list of drawing mistakes.
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Turie is a Gentle Giant who generally acts smaller than he is, and Troy is a brash Jerk Jock who excels at athletic challenges and nothing else.
  • Serious Business:
    • By the end of the first Day, everyone is treating the competition like an essential part of their life.
    • After Cyrissa introduces clothing themes, the contestants start treating that equally seriously.
    • In the Three-Team/Shuffle phase, the one who is Picked Last makes a huge fuss about it.
  • She Is Not My Girlfriend: Claire and Harry are most frequently seen in very close proximity to one another, but Harry denies that he likes Claire while his face turns red.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: Bessie is cheerful and enjoys engaging in her friends' antics while Claire has No Sense of Humor and responds to said antics with a sharp frown.
  • Side-Story Bonus Art: SWAP-related art includes portraits of the contestants sporting different styles than usual, some characters' expansive wardrobes, and copious amounts of Claire-and-Harry drawings.
  • Sophisticated as Hell: "Fantastic Musical Listening" is a jumpy classical/jazz piece with vulgar lyrics.
  • Southpaw Advantage: Braeden, Cyrissa, and Guilla all pitch with their left hand. They do so well because they have the advantage over each other and the left-handed Troy, and the right-handed Leo and Nadir have never seen a left-handed pitcher.
  • Speech-Bubbles Interruption: Contestants' swearing is censored by other contestants' voices or random objects. Bits of the swearing contestant's speech color by the object in question show that they actually said something.
  • Spoiling Shout-Out: In Day 8, two Danganronpa spoilers appear in quick succession: Chihiro Fujisaki is a boy and the sequel's Byakuya Togami is an impostor.
  • The Stinger: These sometimes occur after the contestants are put up for elimination.
    • Day 4: Cedric and Cassie agree to go on a date.
    • Day 6: Cyrissa gets the ensemble to agree to wear red and green for the next day.
    • Day 10: Braeden and Angelo give a vague hint about the following day's clothing theme. Next, Troy has a phone conversation with his father while carpooling with Turie. Then Flo and Patrick's foster mother gives them new sets of clothes, which they promise to wear the following day.
    • Day 11: While Alfred is driving home, Cedric mentions inviting two people whom Alfred dislikes, causing Alfred to give up driving before possibly crashing in a rage. The percussionists wheel around a heavy container while discussing their personal lives.
    • Day 12: Trudy throws a tantrum while talking to her mother. Vincent tells Paris what his girlfriend, Carella, did to him the previous day. Harry talks to his younger brother about investigating Carella. Braeden has a conversation with his younger sister.
    • Day 13: Elsie argues with Corbin about why their least favorite cousin has to show up. Guilla talks about a surprise she has planned for Connie. Bessie calls Claire for being too lazy to hang out with her friends.
    • Day 15: Trudy confronts Vincent about not breaking up with Carella. When Vincent's parents arrive and are horrified about their horrid haircuts, Vincent assures them that Trudy is entirely innocent in the matter.
    • Day 17: Flo was about to do a rooftop gymnastics routine, but she changes her mind because her hand still hurts from the Practice Room segment from earlier.
    • Day 18: Flo goes through with her rooftop gymnastics routine as Claire and Angelo watch on.
    • Day 19: Vincent gets hair-styling tips from Vincenza, while Claire earnestly apologizes to Paris for all the trouble she has given him.
  • Steven Ulysses Perhero: All the contestants are named after the French word for the instrument that represents them. Some are more obvious than others. Mrs. Baker, the baking teacher, was named after the balalaika before she married.
  • Strip Buffer: The nature of the story prevents it from having a significant buffer, but it sometimes gets a buffer within the Day. Sometimes a page is posted once a week until all the pages are done. At that point, they might all be posted at once, or the schedule speeds up to once a day. Sometimes pages are just posted the day they are done.
  • Sudden Video-Game Moment: Days 10, 14, and 20 include a Choices interface when Marianna considers a decision that would push her out of her comfort zone but has obvious benefits.
  • Take That!:
    • The Choices-style scene at the end of Day 10 is a jab at the way the game charges diamonds to go out with friends (or family), accept an outfit that someone will give you, and get help on an important task, among other things. Day 14 takes it even further, with Josefina calling Marianna out for acting like a Choices protagonist.
    • Day 20 specifically calls out Witness: A Bodyguard Romance for making a diamond choice out of what could have been a quick-time event.
    • Larissa laments that Claire won't play Diskaryote with her anymore because it cut out her favorite starter line, which is a clear jab at the Dexit controversy.
  • Tareme Eyes: Most of the contestants' eyes become wider and more dome-shaped with the Art Evolution. Even Troy, one of the meanest contestants, has them. Exceptions include Trudy, who has pointy Tsurime Eyes, and Flo, whose eyes are either narrow or permanently half-open.
  • Technicolor Eyes: Connie, Troy, Braeden, Guilla, Alfred, Angelo, and Cyrissa all have red eyes, but the latter two wear colored contacts at first. That's more than a quarter of the students. Corbin's sister Elsie has purple eyes.
  • Teens Are Short: Well, early adolescents are short. Save for the abnormally tall Troy and Turie, all of the middle school kids are under five feet tall.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: In Day 8, Team Takeover suffers from this. Troy, the leader, ignores everyone else to try to make their tower the tallest. Everyone else is yelling at him to slow down and/or telling the rest of the team to focus on making the tower stable. In the end, they lose because their tower falls over.
  • This Is a Competition: Since Alfred is physically unable to participate in the relay race in Day 13, he is tasked with redecorating the band room with the help of the eliminated contestants. The other active contestants then rate him from 0 to 4, and the sum becomes his score. Corbin and Cedric give him low scores not because they didn't like his work, but to hinder his progress in the competition.
  • Thousand-Yard Stare: Flo and Patrick's most common expression, complete with the lack of pupils and catchlights even when the other characters begin sporting these. As the author states:
    Patrick has seen enough, but Flo has seen too much.
  • Tiny Schoolboy: Patrick, Vincent, Alfred, Harry, and Paris are all teenage boys who are under five feet tall. They are shorter than all the girls except for Trudy, but Patrick is also shorter than Trudy.
  • Titled After the Song:
    • Day 4 is titled "I Got Rhythm" after the song by George Gershwin.
    • Day 15 is titled "Geometric Dances" after the concert piece by Roger Cichy.
    • Day 21 is titled "Picture Studies" after the concert piece by Adam Schoenberg.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Cassie and Cyrissa. Cyrissa always wears a different dress or skirt each day. Cassie only wears T-shirts and shorts, and she's the second character to repeat outfits.
  • Totally Radical: Caroline attempts this before and during practice in Day 7. It does not end well for anybody.
    Caroline: Teamwork and practice make a killer ensemble!
    Troy: She didn't just say "killer"!
    Caroline: You bet I did! Let's practice, home-
    Angelo: Totally radical!
    Flo: Stop it, Carrie- uh, Caroline!
  • Town Girls: Among the percussionists, Cyrissa is the very feminine fashionista, Cassie is the dressed-down teacher's pet, and Gretta is the masculine one who aspires to be a bodyguard.
  • 20 Minutes into the Future: SWAP takes place in an ordinary school, but electronic notebooks and glasses are very commonplace. Magic Music is also common, but some characters explicitly don't have it. The Author Avatars are not much older than the author herself.
  • Two First Names: Corbin Harmony and the Inez sisters. Claire could make "Inez" sound like her first name if she didn't introduce herself with her full name.
  • Utility Magic: Magic Music is most commonly used for mundane purposes like picking up dropped pencils, propelling oneself across a short distance, or freezing water bottles into instant ice packs.
  • The 'Verse: Shares a universe with The Eighth Grade Wars and Behind Closed Doors.
  • Visible Silence:
    • In Day 6, everyone up for elimination uses ellipses when Troy is declared safe.
    • Patrick's second line of dialogue is during the rejoin voting. It portrays no real sound.
  • Voted Off the Island: The contestant with the most votes has to go to The Practice Room, but such contestants are allowed to watch or help out in competitions. Midway through the contest, the structure changes to a blend of this and Eliminated from the Race. The final week is an inversion, as the structure strictly becomes vote-to-save.
  • Weather Dissonance: It looks awfully bright and warm outside for a February evening. The contestants often shed their layers after they enter the band room and keep them off even for outdoor activities, when it would be getting colder outside. The sun should be setting midway through the practice, but it is still bright when they are going home.
  • Webcomic Time: The entire comic is supposed to take place over the month of February, and individual Days take place in the span of two hours. It took four years to write a week.
  • Whole Costume Reference:
    • The cast tends to dress as characters from different franchises to varying degrees of similarity, but the one look that is very similar but not pointed out is Cyrissa's recolored Pyrrha outfit in Day 5.
    • In Day 11, the saxophonists take cues from the playable characters of Choices: Stories You Play.
  • Whole-Plot Reference: The entire structure of the competition matches that of BFDI.
  • You Are Fat: Carella's final action before being kicked out is to make fun of Bessie's size.
    Bessie: Those are personal matters.
    Carella: Like your size?