Thursday, December 14, 2017

Linear funk with a broken cymbal rhythm, using Syncopation

I don't know if you've noticed, but we've developed quite a robust collection of funk methods here, using Ted Reed's Syncopation. If you learned them all you should have some real creativity going by now.

So here's another one, a linear interpretation, using a broken cymbal rhythm. This is good for moderate tempos— around 60-90 bpm. Tempos where you might play 16th notes on the cymbal with your right hand. Since we're playing this in 2/2— cut time— that would be half note = 90 bpm, and 8th notes would be the functional equivalent of 16th notes in 4/4. In that range it's very effective to emphasize a solid grid of 16ths (or cut time 8ths), a la Ndugu Leon Chancler and others. It's not the most popular way of playing styles with a backbeat today— chunky— people don't know they want you to play this way, but when you do, it creates a very deep groove.

Let's walk through the steps for this, starting with exercise 1 on p 33 of Syncopation:

Ignore the stems-down part. Play the top line rhythm on the bass drum, filling in any gaps in the rhythm with the right hand on the cymbal or hihat, making an unbroken stream of 8th notes:

As a warm up, do the same thing with the snare drum playing the book rhythm:

Then voice the book rhythm like a cut time funk groove, with the snare drum on 3, and the bass drum playing everything else:

As in our earlier funk method using Syncopation, you can also play the last half of the measure on the snare drum, to make a fill-like variation:

We're generally very right hand oriented on this blog, but the broken cymbal rhythm with this method really changes our focus. Rather than leading with the cymbal rhythm, you'll be thinking more about the bass drum and snare drum, and filling in the cymbal to create a solid architecture. All the parts should be at a roughly even volume. Your left foot may also contribute more than usual— play it on 2 and 4, or 1 and 3, or running quarter notes. Be able to add it in and take it out without disrupting the groove.

Improvise the orchestration to make a complete phrase out of each four measure line of music from the book. I think of it as two two-measure phrases, with a normal backbeat in the first measure, and a fill-like variation in the second measure— a little fill in the measure 2, and a bigger fill in measure 4:

Many of the book exercises have a rest or a held note on 3— page 33, exercise 2, for example:

To figure out what to do with that, first play the entire top line rhythm with the bass drum, filling in the cymbal rhythm with the right hand as before:

Of the exercise rhythm, play the closest note to 3 on the snare drum. That will be our backbeat, displaced:

You can also just add the snare drum on 3, while doing everything else the same as you have been:

When doing the fill-type variations, you'll want to use the displaced backbeat, playing the rest of the measure after that note on the snare drum:

Work with the one-line exercises until you're able to apply the method while playing through the long exercises on page 37 and after. I don't believe it's necessary to work for extreme speed on this one. Use the Betty Davis loop.

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