Tuesday, July 14, 2015

7/8 rhythms

I got sort of lightly burned at a session recently, when a player pulled up a tune he had written which was in a fast 7/8. I've been working on my odd meters quite a bit in recent years— for the better part of my career I felt they were a relic of the 70s, and not very happening. I was more about finding a lot of freedom in 4/4, 3/4, and 6/8; with the odd meters I felt you were back in the stone age, playing a lot of downbeats. Now everyone's playing them again, and I needed to get them together for real. I thought I was pretty happening with it, until that fast 7/8, which took me a few minutes of fumbling around to find my vocabulary. I still feel the */8 odd meters are a leetle bit jive, as they put a little rhythmic straight jacket on you— you always have to catch the 2+2+3— it's almost a clave— or it falls apart. Maybe I just lack vision.

Or maybe I just need to work on it more. So here are a few basic rhythms in 7/8, in plain form (plus the beat written out, a la Ted Reed), and filled in. The right hand column has the rhythm played on the cymbal, filled out on the snare drum to make running 8th notes.

Get the pdf, and after the break I'll give some ways of using this.

1. Play the right column patterns, RH on cymbal, LH on snare, bass drum playing along with all or some of the cymbal notes. Left hand can accent selectively, and/or move around the drums. I neglected to put in a key, but by now you know that the top line is hihat or cymbal, the middle line is the snare, and the bottom line is the bass drum.

2. Play the right hand column; cymbal line played on the bass drum, and the snare line played on the snare drum with the LH. Add the left hand column rhythms (stems-up part only), played with the right hand on the cymbal. Play every possible combination of cymbal part and bass/snare part.

So cymbal rhythm number 2 combined with bass-and-snare pattern number 1 looks like this:

And cymbal rhythm 6 with bass-and-snare pattern 5 looks like this:

3. Play this rhythm with the RH on the hihat or cymbal, with the accents:

Add the left column rhythms, played on the bass and snare, with the snare drum on 3— this is rhythm 6:

Or with the snare drum on 2, also rhythm 6

You might want to put some other notes of the rhythm on the snare drum, as well:

More on this later. If you get desperate for materials, you could also adapt some methods from the recent series of half time feel funk studies.

1 comment:

ggill1970 said...

Great post...IMHO you can never have enough "emergency gig" chops / experience for odd meters. Makes a lot of sense to keep pushing & experimenting w/ this kind of approach. I am lucky enough to have a Balkan fusion gig that keeps me on my toes.