Monday, June 06, 2022

5/8 control, part 2

Hastily scribbled practice notes
It has been an interesting journey this week, preparing this challenging music— moderately challenging, I guess; there are a few grooves in time signatures I'm not used to, but I'm being ambitious about how I want to play them. When it's all over I'll give you a complete rundown of all the tunes, how I handled them, and how it worked out.

If you're in Oregon, you can come see us at the 1905 Club in Portland at 5:30 pm on Friday the 10th, or the Old World Deli in Corvallis at 7pm on the 11th. Antonio Sanchez is playing with Thana Alexa right after us at the 1905, so you can make a night of it.  

Yes, it is a little intimidating knowing King Kong may be in the house while I'm playing this stuff. But whatever, if I eat it somehow, and he's even around, I'll remember Frankie Dunlop

The 5/8 thing is coming along nicely. I needed to figure out a way to vamp on it, and learn a few key rhythms— claves, almost. Generally learning a lot of simple variations on basic things.  

Here's another page of 5/8 patterns based on the notes above, that I wrote while I was practicing, and some practice notes— to myself, they may make no sense to you.  

You can fudge it 
You don't need to play a perfect 5/8 subdivision all the time. This is not prog. In fact, if you're playing off the 1, a lot of almost-normal stuff can happen in the middle. 

And 5/8 rhythms can resemble normal things, pushed around a little bit, for example: 

But increasingly I've found I can just stay on the quintuplet groove— it just requires a focused and deliberate approach. Which is not my forte— as a musician I'm actually kind of a feral individual. Just playing the notes feels like cheating to me.   

Recovering from mistakes. 
I'm learning to bail out fast when something lands in a way I didn't intend— without immediately hitting something else, which will also be very wrong, to try to save the continuity. 

You also have to have the 5/8 in your ear well enough that you can drop in a note, and know where you are from hearing it. 

Playing free
It's also possible to just play free over the vamp— but there's a right way to do that. You have to listen, and you can't lapse into playing patterns that fight with the vamp. It's also nice to be able to play four measures totally free, and land on the 1 with the band, which I can do.    

The actual parameters
You look at a chart like that and you think oh my God I've got to learn to play 5/8, but really, it's one six minute tune, and one tempo. On the 5/8 portion of the head the drums are doing a light percussive background thing. The middle of the tune and the horn solo are in 6/4. The drum solo in 5/8 is really equivalent to an 8 measure break in 4. And the other players are used to holding it together with different drummers who don't know their music real well— or they better be. They won't be relying on me to be their foundation. 

Get the pdf

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