Monday, July 17, 2023

A basic waltz vocabulary - 01

I was working with a student on a jazz waltz, played at a brighter tempo than he was real comfortable with, so we needed to come up with some easy things to add to his basic feel. The first thing to do with any style is to get some simple options for things to play.  

We'll use this as our basic time feel— everything else will be added to that, or modify it: 

Use the 8th rest pages from my book, Syncopation in 3/4, which you should own. The first three lines of p. 18 have a single beat of 8th notes/rests per measure, and some quarter notes:  

Normally people just tell you to play the rhythm on the snare drum, and play it on the bass drum, and move on, but let's change it to make it more like something we might actually play when playing this style:

1. Play just the 8th note.
2. Play the 8th note plus the note after it. 
3. Play all the notes. 
4. Play all the notes, minus the note after the 8th note. 

Using line 1 above, along with our time feel, that would go: 

Seem convoluted? Not really. You want to be able to look at a rhythm and just play part of it. 

In jazz, you don't generally play a repeating rhythm every single measure— let's play them every two measures: 

Simple. We're looking for basic, mundane vocabulary. 

We're not going to do a lot with the bass drum here, but try playing it on the note after the 8th note: 

When you do that in the two measure phrase, don't hit both 1s with the bass drum, for example: 

Use your own judgment in how you do that, which measure of the phrase gets the 1 on the bass drum. 

After you can do all of the above in the two measure phrases, improvise similar things, while thinking your way through a tune, or playing along with a record. Something like All Blues or Someday My Prince Will Come, or Up Jumped Spring.

We'll do a little more with this later in the week. 

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