Sunday, January 3, 2010

Lesson 1: The Blueprint Part Uno...


So this has been sitting in my composition book for 4 years now. It's part of a series of exercises that took me roughly 3 years to come up with, hash through, write down, forget about, remember, work on some more, walk away in know, the usual process of learning and working on original (hopefully) material. I picked it up the other day (it's been a while since I've thought about it....much less worked on it) and I thought "Hey, maybe someone else could benefit from this." And then I thought about how hungry I was, remembered that I was supposed to mail off some thank you notes....and finally arrived back at the thought later that evening that again, maybe someone could use some of this info. So I'll be throwing this stuff up in individual posts over the next, I don't know, however long it takes me to remember everything I had worked out and thought of. If you can use it, great. If not, super. Hopefully it'll make sense... So here goes...

RHYTHMIC SCALE (AKA..."The Blueprint")

The picture above is what I like to call my rhythmic scale (Click on the picture and you'll be able to download a large copy of it to refer to). In the simplest terms, it's the numbers one thru eight. This is the basis for ALOT of the other exercises I'm planning on posting, so get familiar with it.

To practice this, let's start with a single hand. Set your metronome to 4/4 time (common time) and at a tempo somewhere between 70-80 BPM (beats per minute).

Put repeat signs around each bar and practice that one bar until you're comfortable with it, playing everything on one hand to start with. On the first bar, you'll be playing one beat per measure, second bar 2 beats per measure, third bar 3 beats per measure and so on...all the way to 8 (Yes, we're going to be dealing with polyrhythms, if you haven't figured that out by now.). Measures 1-4 are pretty simple...we commonly use those subdivisions in popular gets hairy once you get to measures 5 and 7. Those aren't as common, so it may take a bit to get used to subdividing them. With the metronome set to 4/4 time, you'll be counting polyrhythms as follows...

Measure One Polyrhythm: 1 over 4
Measure Two Polyrhythm: 2 over 4
Measure Three Polyrhythm: 3 over 4
Measure Four Polyrhythm: 4 over 4 (Unisons)
Measure Five Polyrhythm: 5 over 4
Measure Six Polyrhythm: 6 over 4 (or 3 over 4 doubled-if that confuses you, forget I said it.)
Measure Seven Polyrhythm: 7 over 4
Measure Eight Polyrhythm: 8 over 4 (or doubletime)

Once you've mastered playing this with your right hand, switch to your left hand. Once you're comfortable with that, switch and play it all on your right foot. And you guessed it...once you've got that, play them all with your left foot. While your playing them, count them out loud. It's of utmost importance that you engrain these into your skull so they become second will come in handy later.

Once you can play them all comfortably with each limb, let's dig deeper. Try alternating in the following combinations...

Unison (all limbs together...unisons are harder than you think)

Increase the tempo as you get better.

Once that's under the belt, try playing each measure 4 times and going to the next subdivision smoothly.

Again, this may seem elementary to some of you. If you want, just use this as a simple warm up when you go to begin a practice session. The point I'm trying to get across is that if you're not comfortable playing all of these subdivisions (or polyrhythms, if you want to think of them like that) you won't be able to play any of the exercises from this point on.

It get's MUCH more interesting after this, so I hope you'll stick around, work on some of this, and hopefully find it fun...I know I do.

Long Winded Update of Left Out Material Due to Writing This Post Right Before Bed...

First of all...My good friend Shane Kelly took the liberty of transcribing my chicken scratch notation into a more legible form...much appreciated. I actually thought about doing that, but there's only so many hours in a day...nonetheless, A great big "THANKS" is in order...

rhythmic scale-2

He also suggested using Musical Mnemonics to help count the 5 and 7... Go HERE to learn more about that...

...So I re-read this once I woke up and felt there should be a touch more explanation and clarification.

Sometimes you work on something so long that you take for granted things that need explaining. The focus of these lessons will be polyrhythms, time-within-time, Implied Metric Modulation (although I really hate that term), Metric Modulation, and the likes.

A polyrhythm is, in it's most basic form, two patterns played against each other (playing 2 evenly spaced notes in one hand while in the same amount of time playing 3 evenly spaced notes in the other hand...). It's really just a pattern if you play them becomes a polyrhythm when you start to separate the two patterns, count them separately, and start to subdivide using (from the example above) the 2 or the 3 as the basis for subdivision. Once you can consciously do that, you begin to realize that for any given tempo or time signature you're playing in, there are countless sub-signatures you can function in. This is getting a bit deep early on, but I wanted you to at least know where this is heading. This is how some drummers and musicians can make time feel like it's floating, or that the song is suddenly in another tempo, or any other number of "illusions" ...which aren't really illusions at all, they're just subdividing and taking that subdivision as the new tempo and further subdividing it......PHEW!!!

I hope some of that makes sense to you...


sun light said...

You can use paradiddles within drum fills to create patterns
that would be awkward to play using only single strokes.
Experiment with playing paradiddles between different sound
surfaces (meaning different drums and cymbals) and you will
soon be dazzled by the number of drum fills you can come up
with based around this concept.

paradiddle book
paradiddle exercises

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