Sunday, November 02, 2014

A Reed method for 16th notes in jazz — reading the quarter note sections

Over the course of a few posts I'll break down my method for developing jazz comping with 16th notes, using Syncopation by Ted Reed. 16th notes are used a lot in jazz, and drummers neglecting them can lead to fairly one-dimensional playing. In jazz this rhythm needs to be legato; if you articulate your 16ths the way you do in other kinds of music, they will sound quite bad. Play them the way the horn does on Confirmation:

First we'll look at some things you can do with the quarter note sections of Reed. We'll be ignoring the written bass drum part— the stems-down part— so any of the three two-page quarter note lessons will do. We will play the ride pattern with a dotted-8th/16th rhythm; again, don't play it too staccato. Try to make it flow. It looks funny when you see it written; this used to be a standard way to write and play the pattern, but you don't see it much any more:

The first two interpretations are straightforward: play the above time pattern along with the written melody line (the stems-up part in Reed) on the bass drum, while filling in a couple of different 16th note rhythms on the snare drum. For the examples, we'll use this written exercise in Reed:

In the book that's one measure of page 4 (Lesson One, in the new edition), line 7. Reading that exercise without playing the left hand, the time feel plus our bass drum part would look like this:

First, fill in the &-as on with the snare:

Then fill in the es and as:

Much more after the break:

If you need to, you can do either of those left hand rhythms without any bass drum as a warm up:

A side note: you can think of these rhythms almost as interpretations of the following triplet rhythm— it may help with your phrasing:

Then combine them. On the beats with a BD note, fill in the es and as, and on a beat with a written rest, fill in the &-as:

And vice versa: on beats with a BD note, play the &-as, and on beats with a rest, play the es and as:

The initial goal with this method is to play, from the first section of Reed, without stopping: lines 1-15 plus the long exercise, with time on the cym/hihat, and BD playing the top line of exercise, and SD filling in on:
1) all &-as
2) all es and as
3) es and as on beats with a BD note, &-as on rest beats
4) &-as on beats with a BD note, es and as on rests. 
A good first goal tempo for this would be around quarter note=120 bpm. You might do the bulk of your practicing in the 60-100 bpm range. Much more of this coming soon!

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