Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Breaking down the Chaffee phrases

Since I have a little breather between finishing my taxes, stopping procrastinating about finishing my charts for Friday, practicing, teaching, and writing up a new Drum! contribution that might actually earn me some money (friendly reminder: contributions/merch purchases = more free stuff for you!), what the heck, let's do some blogging.

If you've been working with the Gary Chaffee linear patterns, you've probably noticed that the practice combinations can make some fairly angular phrases. The way the materials are designed, it's tempting to ignore the meter and rely on the math to make them come out right— that's the way I tried to do them in the 80's, when I was young and foolish— but you really want keep track of the primary pulse all the way through. Here I'll give some examples of how to do that, mainly by putting in some strong stops in the middle of the squirrelly spots.

First, here's how the 3/3/4/3/5 phrase is rendered as triplets in two measures of 3/4— go back and review the previous posts (and Chaffee's Patterns, Vol. III) if this doesn't make sense to you:

The idea is to stop at a strong place, not necessarily to the end of each pattern. The beginning 3/3 is easy, so let's play to the end of the 4, which lands on beat 1:

Then we can add the next 3, which ends on beat 2:

After that you can play the complete pattern one time, ending on the following downbeat. It's also a good idea to isolate that ending 5. Since it begins in the middle of the triplet, add the note before it, which gives you a nice solid beginning:

More examples/ideas after the break:

Another example— here's the 3/3/5/4/3 phrase:

Find the first strong ending place after the easy part, which is beat 1, part way through the 5 portion:

The next ending place is on beat 2:

Then beat 3:

And then play the complete pattern, one time, ending on 1.

You should also develop solid phrase beginnings and endings for each of the patterns— 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8. Here's a 4 at the start of a phrase:

Since the 5 ends in the middle of the triplet, play all the way to the next beat:

Same with the 8:

Also see how each pattern will fall at the end of the phrase. For example, since the 8 begins in the middle of the triplet, add the note before it to set it up solidly:

So far we've just put our stops on the beat, but there's no reason you can't put them on the middle or last notes of the triplet— just be sure you square those notes with the following metronome click.

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