Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Beginning Improvisation Part 3


Two new elements
In the last post in this series we discussed using in eighth notes and dynamics.  In today's exercise we are going to be dealing with two new elements, sixteenth notes and orchestrating rhythms around the drums. 



The purpose of the drum set
There is a lot of uncertainty surrounding the original invention of the drum set, but one thing is clear, it's intended musical function.  The drum set was invented to allow one person to play the role traditionally played by the bass and snare drummer in a New Orleans marching band.  The foot pedals replaced the bass drummer, keeping the hands free to play mostly on the snare drum.  The unique sound of the drum set comes from the conversation between feet and hands. 

We have already started to explore this relationship between the feet and hands a little bit in the last couple of exercises by having the feet playing a repeated pattern (ostinato) for the hands to play on top of.  In today's exercise we are going to start developing this relationship further.

Exercise #3
In this exercise you are going to play lesson number nine  from "Syncopation"  pages 20-21 with improvisation every fourth bar.  Rather than improvise a new rhythm, you are going to take the written rhythm and improvise with orchestration, or in other words, which drums you play the written rhythm on. 

Syncopation Improv 3
Syncopation Improv 3

Step 1
Keeping the foot pattern the same (jazz feet), try experimenting with moving the rhythm to different drums, cymbals, or combinations of the two.  For people without access to a drum set, the main thing is to have more than one surface to play on to be able to produce different sounds.  

Example 1


Step 2
Now try keeping the left foot going, but breaking up the written rhythm between the snare drum and the bass drum.  This back and forth conversation between the snare and bass is one of the most fundamentally important skills to develop on the drum set.  Notice how much different the rhythms sound when they are split up between the hands and feet. 


Also, if this is too difficult at first, you may consider thinking of one way to split up the rhythms between your hands and feet and sticking to that throughout the exercise.  One example might be two notes with the hands and two notes with the foot.  Once you can go through a couple of different possibilities, then try switching it up on each line. 

Example 2