Monday, August 22, 2016

Reed interpretation: triplets with breaks

I don't why it took me over 30 years to figure this out— I'm always looking for ways to simplify things, to make them more playable. This is an alternative to a very common, popular, and useful Reed method— the one where you play the melody rhythm with RH on ride cymbal together with BD (in a swing rhythm), and the LH fills out the triplets. One of the most useful things I ever learned for soloing .

One of its challenges is that on any note/rest values longer than a quarter note, you have to fill in multiple triplet notes— severely limiting your maximum tempo if you do them all with your left hand. You can do it much faster if you break up the multiples by bringing the right hand to the snare drum, to make only singles and doubles— I outlined the way I do this in this post from 2013. But I really don't like to think about execution at all when I'm playing, and even that very functional method is a little more technical than I like.

So the solution that finally dawned on me after three decades of playing this method: hey, let's just stop when we get to the multiples. Why not? There's no secret difficulty police that's going to walk onto the gig and escort us out for not doing something in the hardest way possible. As it turns out, by introducing some space, this method actually sounds more musical than the old one. It's a win all around.

So get out your copy of Syncopation, turn to the famous page 37 (or whatever page it is in the new edition— it's the first long syncopation exercise) and compare it with what I've written here. You can see that we stop on the melody note at the beginning of a longer space— any note+rest equaling a duration of a dotted quarter note or longer. If the next melody note is on the beat, come in normally with the melody-plus-triplets; if the next melody note is an &, play an accent on the snare drum on the 8th rest before it. Wherever there are one isolated note or two isolated notes an 8th note apart, just play the written notes and don't fill in the triplets. You should be able to figure this out by comparing the two pages:

Alternatively, you can play the snare drum on any 8th rest in the melody part. So the first two measures of the fifth line:

Would be played as follows:

Not a bad idea to stick those two-in-a-row snare hits RL, and move one or both of them to the tom toms. Of course the right hand part for this entire method can also be played on the snare and toms, without the bass drum. And as a general rule, we want to accent the RH part and play the LH filler notes quietly and legato (a lot of students try to over-articulate them), so the written melody line is emphasized.

I'll put a single snare hit on the beat after those hanging &s— melody hits on an & with a space after them. this will help get the timing, and keep a solid quarter note pulse throughout. I wouldn't do this on isolated hits on the &, like in the previous example. These two measures from the third line:

Would be played:

I don't accent that note. See what sounds good to you.

Also, where you come in on an & after a stop, instead of the single hit on the beat illustrated on the main page, I also like to play the first two notes of the triplet, with an accent on the first note. Sticking is usually LL, but it could also be RL. It makes it a little more Dejohnette and a little less big band. These two measures from the second line, then:

Would be played:

Figure out what sounds best to you and have at it. I think you'll find Exercise 4 on page 40 (old edition) to be the most challenging with this new interpretation.

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