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Listening to Rhythm is not the same as Hearing It

randulo

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With the success of the discussion started about hearing music, I'd like to extend it from listening to melodies and harmonies to listening to rhythm.

If you would like to participate in the discussion, please listen to this solo by McCoy Tyner. Imagine that this has no notes at all, just percussion. Follow this through. A lot of players have a problem with 6/8 time. This is a lesson in soulful rhythm in that feel. The chords, which a friend of mine described as "McCoy's Church Bells" exhibit a brilliance seldom found in jazz. If you are averse to Coltrane's sound, you are allowed to refrain from posting, this isn't about Coltrane, it's about the rhythms used in the piano solo.

Do you find it hard to play in triplet-based times (3/4, 6/8, 12/8 )? (It's ok, many people seem to)
What do you hear in the rhythm of McCoy's playing?
Can you play these rhythmic phrases?
Can it be applied to other instruments?
Are there saxophone examples you can find and point to?

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H7m5joZPP0U&t=409s
 
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stom

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Interesting I don’t have any problem hearing phrasing or playing in triplet based time, but I was brought up in a family that had grandparents that played lots of folk music and I was taught to count rhythms as a young child (although I never took up an instrument until I was 33). A few years ago when I first started playing at a jam session My Favourite Things was called and lots of people ducked out or really struggled with the tune due to the time. I found it really strange that they struggled with the rhythm and didn’t know that it’s quite a common time signature to struggle with.
 

Wade Cornell

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In many parts of Africa if you want to be a drummer you first have to be a good dancer. Rhythm starts in the body.

A lot of times when we see a performer (especially with an instrument) who is moving a lot you can just put it down to "showmanship". However what about the violinist stuck in the middle of the orchestra who nobody sees? Many of them move their bodies far more than necessary in order to play. There was a "school of teaching" where cellists were taught to loudly breathe in and out with each phrase they played so that their playing would be like a singer.

Do you have to move your body? No, but for many of us it helps. Early jazz players tried not to with the emphasis on being "cool", although there were certainly exceptions.

Fun exercise: Next time you have a rhythm you think you're having difficulty with, dance to it first while holding your instrument (not too vigorously!) and then try playing with just slight moves where you let your body remain moving with the music. Could take a little practice if you're not used to dancing, but I guarantee that it will eventually bring together those elements.
 
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mizmar

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randulo

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Incidentally, the Song of the Month consists of three tunes based on ternary times sigs, 3/4, 6/8, and 12/8. In addition to talking about playing in three, it would be great to hear some by playing by Café members.

The second thing I suggest for listenizing (listen & analyse) is almost any Bill Evans performance. Bill plays like a drummer who happens to be one of the most advanced harmonic concept leaders in jazz.

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vhca9Ol_sls&t=1907s


In Bill's playing, he often sets 4 over the 3 background, in addition to mixing triplets in to his 4/4 phrasing. He isn't thinking "I'm gonna put this thing here to break up the long string of 16ths", it's his style and it's good practice to listen to anything he's ever played and reflect on what he's doing.

George Benson does what we can't, sing and play at the same time, but we can think the singing part and play better. Again, like Bill and McCoy, GB exhibits a rhythmic sophistication that dazzles non-musician listeners. It's worth listening and thinking about how he plays with the time. Hearing the rhythm is only a little easier than hearing the notes in any solo. It's good to use your hands or grab a pair of sticks and try some of the phrases from any good player, especially on other instruments.

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RP82-Mu3ALA&t=5716s
 
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Tenor Viol

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I don't have any particular issues with triplets, whether compound time signatures or triplets within a duplet. I've sung a lot of a cappella Renaissance polyphony which has 6/2 9/2 12/2 time signatures etc. 6/4 6/8 9/8 12/8 are common in orchestral music (second movement of Beethoven Symphony 6 is 12/8). Some music, e.g. Vaughan Williams Somerset Folk Songs, have cross-rhythms where the strings are in 2/4 and the woodwind are in 6/8.

What you encounter a lot is "tripletising" of dotted rhythms e.g. dotted quaver + semi-quaver should be 3+1, but is often played swung / quavers inégales i.e. 2+1. It can be hard to break people of that habit....
 

randulo

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I would love to hear from those who improvise, regardless of time signature. When I shared the excerpts above, they are to try to demonstrate why they stand out rhythmically. I'd like to see more saxophone examples shared and ultimately, who is ready to show an example of their own work in the area of rhythm?

Here's a great saxophone example I've shared before. Again, this is to take note of what Rahassan uses in his phrases, after the initial melody. This happens to be in 6 but the discussion has nothing to do with any particular time.

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gTAMZS-kaMU
 

Wade Cornell

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Here's a few odd meter tracks, or at least challenging form a timing point of view.

This track is embedded with the friendly permission by the creatives on wikiloops.com
View: https://www.wikiloops.com/backingtrack-jam-194190.php

This track is embedded with the friendly permission by the creatives on wikiloops.com
View: https://www.wikiloops.com/backingtrack-jam-188792.php

This track is embedded with the friendly permission by the creatives on wikiloops.com
View: https://www.wikiloops.com/backingtrack-jam-60557.php

View:
This track is embedded with the friendly permission by the creatives on wikiloops.com
View: https://www.wikiloops.com/backingtrack-jam-55862.php

This last one is (more/less) Atonal Classical. Not exactly to the taste of most here, but I'd like to hear opinions...if you've got one. The others should be somewhat more "accessible" taste-wise.
 
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randulo

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Here's another example, this time on tenor:
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k4I2T8vZwmA


The melody itself is clever, rhythmically. Joe's solo begins around 2:12.
He starts it by immediately challenging us with his unique approach. Nervous tension is there, but it's beautiful, like a tornado at sea seen from safety. He goes a little more classic 8th note in the "release" section. Next A section, he plays around with head, varying the accents and note placement, but clearly playing a new version of it. He goes on, chapter after chapter, telling a new story very differently each time. He uses hundreds of rhythmic patterns and manages to tie the together over very difficult chord changes.

McCoy Tyner's solo is almost a relief of relaxation compared to Joe's soloing, but there's lots of juicy fruit to pick here, too.

You can't talk about rhythm without hearing the drive of Elvin Jones, the man was like King Kong grabbing trees to beat on mountains. He provides more than enough power for the likes of Trane and Joe.

When Joe comes back, we're 9 1/2 minutes in. This must be the opposite of "easy listening". Now he's into a shredding-like thing, then again finally, back to the head. I feel like I was in a small boat on a stormy sea, and "LAND!".

All this to say, I believe this is one of the most sophisticated saxophone solos in history. Certainly, one of the richest, rhythmically and harmonically. Joe Henderson surely would have been more of a jazz household name had there not been Coltrane and Sonny Rollins looming in the forefront.

While it's obvious, this is not music that is to everyone's taste, even jazz lovers, I find it illustrates the idea of my post very well. When one speaks of transcribing, it's almost always to marvel at the notes played over certain chords. Here, I am suggesting you do the same with rhythm.

Oh, look someone already did the work!

Transcription of Inner Urge solo

at about 00:30 in the above video, measure 25 is simple enough... or is it? Did you hear it? Or was it just a bunch of notes?

So, just as you may find melodic phrases you like and want to learn from the monumental playing of a Cannonball or a Desmond, it would be well worth trying to assimilate any of the dozens of rhythms presented here, as a path toward using the concepts in improvisation.
 
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