Sunday, January 21, 2018

EZ uptempo jazz method - 01

There is at least one other EZ uptempo jazz method— oh look, here's another one— but this one is first in a series of similar things I'm writing now. If you learn to be creative with enough “EZ” things, it can add up to a lot of stuff.

I cooked this up while listening to a lot of Paul Motian for these recent posts— at faster tempos he does a lot of simple figures on the snare and/or bass drum, with the cymbal in unison. It also works well for an uptempo Tony Williams-like concept— which we've already done, but this will work better for faster tempos.

We're going to combine the first four exercises from an easy page of Syncopation, with ties added, with SD/BD combinations derived from Stick Control, adding the cymbal three different ways. It's quite simple, don't worry.

First, look at page 10 from Syncopation. We're going to use exercises 1-4, plus 14-15 if you feel like it. Ignoring the written bass drum part, we're going to add a tie to the last 8th note in each group of 8ths, like so:

With each of those exercises, there will be four notes sounding every measure. We're going to voice those four notes to match the first 13 patterns in the book Stick Control, with R meaning bass drum and L meaning snare drum. So exercise 1 from Reed voiced with the first five patterns in Stone (RLRL, LRLR, RRLL, LLRR, RLRR-LRLL) would be played:

Now we'll add the cymbal in three different ways— I'll use Reed exercise 3 with Stone voicing 5 for the examples.

1. Cymbal in unison with the bass drum only:

2. Cymbal in unison with the snare drum only:

3. Cymbal in unison with everything:

You'll quickly discover what works for you. Personally, on combinations like number 2 above, coming out of a time feel, I would probably add a cymbal on beat 1. When the two 8th notes are on the same drum, but the cymbal rule doesn't put a cymbal with them, I would probably play a cymbal with one of those 8th notes anyway. Don't worry too much about forcing weird things to work; just work them into the flow and change them however you like so they make sense for you.

We'll want to play the hihat on 2 and 4 throughout:

You don't need to do the exercises strictly the way they appear in the book. You can do one or two measures of the exercise, alternating with a basic time feel. Put the exercise figures in wherever you like, and try to make four or eight measure phrases out of it.

In general you should accent the tied note, and maybe the last note in the measure when going back to your time feel. In that case, you'll probably want to tie that accent to the first note of the cymbal pattern:

Finally, don't let your accents disrupt the flow. You can make bigger accents when you have more space; on the denser variations, or when you're doing your fastest tempos, you probably will want to accent lighter, saving the biggest accent for the last note of the measure:

The hihat is omitted from the first part of that example for no good reason. Inattention to detail on my part.

You should try to do this at around half note = 130-155, up to around 168. There's really no technical challenge to doing this; we're just introducing some possibilities for breaking up the cymbal rhythm with some statements on the drums. I reckon most of us will use this loosely, as a jumping off point for playing around with similar ideas; if you don't have much idea of what to play on fast tempo tunes, you should probably pick up some vocabulary by running this a little more thoroughly.

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