Sunday, June 12, 2022

The big 7

Please pardon the lack of content. I've been occupied with other things this week, like our upcoming cymbal meets in Germany, and those couple of gigs with all the odd meters.  Which worked out well— I learned a lot from it. I'll do a full run down of what we did, but first let's talk about one angle on playing odd meters. 

Usually, when playing odd time signatures with an 8 as the bottom number— 5/8, 7/8, some forms of 9/8, 11/8, etc— the measures will have a lopsided feel, with long beats and short beats: 

Which you play from a foundation of groups of two and three 8th notes: 

Often that will be counted in 2+2+3/8: 1-2-1-2-1-2-3. 

Several of the tunes we played were written in 7/8, but were better felt in 7/4, with a steady quarter note beat, instead of the uneven quarter-quarter-dotted-quarter beat. A couple that were written in 5/4 strongly suggested a 5/8 phrasing. So there was (almost) always a strong feeling of */8 and */4 versions of a meter happening at the same time— 7/8 and 7/4, or 5/8 and 5/4. 

Because of that, many of the grooves had a partido alto-like feel to them— with several quarter notes in a row, alternating with several &s in a row: 

Part of one arrangement was in 6/4, with a similar rhythm: 

There was also a section of a tune in 9/8: 

Which I played like: 

And if you transcribe the main pulses of two measures of the 7/8 rhythm at the top of the post into one measure of 7/4, you get this: 

A notable thing about how you play that, and my main point here: when the tune is written in 7/8, with chords changing on the 1, but you're playing it in a 7/4 feel— the chord will change in the middle of the measure, on the & of 4. So you need to build that anticipation into your main groove. So this will be your rhythm framework, rather than steady quarter notes: 

Playing the big 5 in 5/8 doesn't seem to help much— or it didn't with this music. The problem with 5 generally is that it turns around so fast you're never get fully grounded. More on that later. 

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