Jazz Piano Improvisation Part 3 of 4 -Jazz Rhythm (Podcast Episode #32)

Posted by: JAZZEDGE on June 1, 2021

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00:05 Hey guys, Willie Myette, creator of jazz edge. Welcome to Episode 32 of the confident improviser podcast. Today we're going to be talking about step three in my four part jazz improvisation series. Today we're talking about jazz rhythm. And as I have here, poor rhythm equals poor improvisation, learn how to improve that. So that's what we're going to be covering in today's podcast. Let's get started. Alright, so today's focus, jazz rhythm. So now with out question, rhythm is what ties all of jazz improvisation together, you can have all the right notes, you can have all the right accompaniment, but if you play it with poor rhythm, it just sounds bad. So if you've had bad rhythm in the past, we're going to change that today. Alright, so if you want to grab the sheet music, go ahead and follow the link in the description of this video. Alright, so the first thing we're going to talk about is subdivision versus vocalization. And what you'll see here is I have a measure of all eighth notes, and then the measure of quarter notes. Now typically how we learn to kind of say rhythm and be able to you know, vocalize it of sorts, is to use our subdivision method. The subdivision method is the one written up on the top here with the one n two n three and four n. The vocalization method is something that I came up with many, many years ago, and it's at the bottom you can say d by d by d by d button. Alright. Alright, so first of all, with the subdivision method, there's nothing wrong with using the subdivision method. And I actually prefer using the subdivision method as soon as we get into 16th notes. So if you're using 16th notes in your playing, then the subdivision method is going to work better because you can do the one e and a two e and a three E and a four E and, and that just flows off the tongue a lot easier. Remember to typically with 16th notes, it's more of a funk rock kind of playing. Whereas jazz, it's usually less 16th more eighth in triplets for the whole swing thing. Alright, so if you're playing rock or funk, those styles are typically going to be played straight, right? I'll get into that in one second. Alright, so we have the subdivision method at the top one and two and three and four end. And then the vocalization at the bottom D buddy buddy, buddy buck. Now if you already know some rhythm, you probably already know the way I just said those rhythms was in a swing field. So let's talk about the difference between swung and straight. Right. So now if I just put on this simple drum beat here, and I real pro for our exercise one, you're here, this is a swing beat. You could kind of hear that the A throws a one and two and three, and four and one and to write, you can feel that kind of pendulum or that little little t feel. And typically what happens in a swing rhythm, the first eighth note gets a little bit more time than the second eighth note. That's how we vocalize that using this d by d by d by d. But here's how the D actually lasts a little bit longer than the BA, d d by d by d. But now you can use that vocalization approach in straight rhythms as well by simply saying d by d by d by d by d by d by d by d button, you can hear how that is all straight, right. But in this case, we're trying to do it with some jazz rhythm, we're trying to swing that rhythm. So we're going to say that like little little t like that now if you want more information on really kind of diving into this swing versus straight up beats down beats, syncopation, all of that I have a great course for you. And it's called rhythm essentials, you can find that right back at the jazz edge site. Alright, so anyway, let's just get down this rhythm that we have right here, the rhythm would be d by d by d by d by da, da, 04:12 da, 04:13 da. There you see I wrote them all on a note beat. That's just because I wanted it in the middle of the stuff. You could play it literally on any note, but since it's on B, let's play it on B so that'd be here we go. D buddy, buddy, buddy, da, da, da. So like I said, if you want more information dive deeper. You can take a look at that rhythm essentials course I just want you to play it right now. So we're going to do is we're going to play these two measures, right a couple of times. So what I want you to try first of all is just vocalizing don't try playing it until you vocalize it. Now I'll tell you, you're probably going to play it and try and vocalize it at the same time. That's fine. But what you're probably going to find is that you're not going to be able to do that right and that's why I say vocalize at first start With that first but you try, here we go. Day by day. 05:06 Da, da, da da, da, da, da da, da, da, da, da da da da, da, da. 05:26 So if I play straight how that sounds weird against that swing beat. However, let's see what happens if I put on like a rock beat here instead. Okay? I swing, right? Feels weird, right? When I do it straight like this. When I play the rhythm straight in a rock field, it sounds great. When I played swung doesn't sound so good, same thing. Yeah, when I put the swing beat on, if I try playing the rhythm straight, it doesn't sound so good. So typically, when playing rock, pop, classical, Bossa Nova, Latin music, a lot of times, that is all in a straight eighth feel, when playing blues, jazz, sometimes some r&b kind of stuff, that would be more of a swing field, right? And then I will tell you this before we move on the amount of swing and how much you emphasize that changes to each player, some players play more straight than swung. Some players really swing that rhythm a lot, right? And what's kind of neat is you can kind of tell some different players just by how they swing their eighth notes. Alright, so let's move on. So the first rhythm that we're going to do here, pretty simple. Let me play it for you. It's da, d by d by d by great big hole. Nope, I completely understand saying great big hole note is absolutely, like kind of childish and silly, but it works. Great big hole note, all right, you're holding it down for four beats. And it's just getting you to remember that it is called a whole note. If you want to just count it. 12345 No worries. All right. So here we go. We got a quarter note. And then 6/8 notes to a whole note. Here we go. Da da buddy, buddy. Great. Big Hole note, da, da buddy, buddy. Great. Big Hole. Nope, got a buddy, buddy. Great. Big Hole. Note. The other thing you might notice is when I play that quarter note, especially if you're from a classical background, I'm not doing this da, Buddy Buddy, not holding that quarter note out for its full value because typically when playing jazz, the quarter note gets a little bit more of a bounce. It's not quite staccato, but it just gets detached a little bit more. Alright, so that's rhythm number one from exercise number one. Here we go. This is the rhythm from exercise number eight. Now see if you can figure out the vocalization if you want to pause the video, or pause the audio, you can just go ahead and see if you could figure out this vocalization on your own. It's for eighth notes, two quarter notes, 4/8 notes, two quarter notes. And one thing you'll notice here is I beamed these eighth notes differently, just so you can see that this is still for a third and that's still for eighth notes. So you can be in them as two and two or being them all as four. Right and and that's a whole nother discussion of beaming and why it works like that. But basically this is the two different ways in which you could see this beam for those eighth notes. Alright, so here we go. I'm going to play it first, and I'm not going to vocalize it see if you can figure out the vocalization One, two. Here I go. 09:05 One more time, Randy go. Now if you said d by d by da da d by d by da da you're absolutely correct. Great job, right. So let's just try doing it. Two times played along with me. I'll put the drum track on here. There we go. 09:36 Right, let me slow it down. We'll do it one more time. Two more measures. Here we go to Ready go. A Da Da Da. Okay, great, awesome job. Let's move on to the next rhythm because we have a lot to cover. Right? So this way you can see this is from exercise 22 and now it's much more advanced, right? We Add on complexity to our rhythms. As we move along in the confident improviser. Now we have d ba by d by d by da d by right now you can start to hear that this rhythm starts to sound much more like a jazz improvisational rhythm, right? So D ba by d by d by da de ba. The first two beats here is a syncopated rhythm, it's an eighth note to a coordinate note. And then to another eighth note, sometimes, some people like to call this cinco PA, right kind of from the code icecool, cinco pa d by d by dot d. But I just like to hold up that bar, I noticed here I put in an extra array here. So D bar by d by d by da, D, by sing it with me or say it with me, here we go. D bar by d by d by da, Dee Ba, again, d by d by d by da, de ba. And you see that this last bar is tied over to a half note that you can hold it out for the whole beat three and four here, or just go d by and just kind of let it fade away completely up to you. Alright, so let's try playing that along with the drum track. Go through a two times. Here we go. 11:25 Again, 11:31 one more time. All right, great. So now you get these three rhythms together. So what do we do now? Well, let's put it all together. Right. So the first step is you have to make sure that you have your accompagnement down. So now if you don't believe me on that, you think that I'm full of it on that, then you should probably just go to another teacher, because I am here to tell you, if you do not have your accompaniment mastered in your left hand, then it's going to be virtually impossible for you to be able to play anything AI in the right hand. The reason for that is you can only you can only think about one thing at a time, right? So you can't be thinking about the left hand and trying to figure out what you're going to play in the left hand while also trying to figure out what you're going to play in the right hand. So it's really important to start with that simple component. Now, even if you are a more advanced player, I suggest doing this simple accompaniment to get started. Why? Because it's very versatile. Right? Just that C E flat, F and G halftones. Right? Very, very simple. Now if you're a little bit more advanced, you want to throw some chords on the right hand. Let me show you some chords are good, do you do this C minor, minor g7 alter like this to C minor. So you could do some stuff like what I'm doing down there, I'm kind of playing around with that base baseline a little bit. And again, if you're an advanced player, and you want to try doing that, go ahead and do it. The main thing to notice though, is and the main thing to make sure that you're doing is make sure you're playing that baseline study do not do this. I talked about this in part one, right? Don't do this. It see how just jumping right in there. Okay, so now this is where playing along with our drum track is going to help. Here we go. I'll play the chords in the right hand for you as well. You're not there yet, just do the left hand with me. Here we go. You don't have to do the right hand. 13:58 Notice what I'm doing on that g7 I'm playing as an altered chord like that sharp nine flat 13. Again, if you don't know what that is, don't worry about it right now, the main thing is just to get this down right here. That's it. Just make sure that you have that left hand down, play that along with that backing track, okay, and just make sure you have that accompaniment down very, very well, right. You don't have to do this accompaniment, but I do find that the baseline accompaniment is nice because it gives some motion, you could just like play a C minor chord like improvise there. But you see that there's there's there's nothing accompanying you right? Whereas when I go when I start to do that, you can now hear that, oh, there's some motion going on. That's why I like the baseline and that's why I teach that baseline first Alright, so now step one into your component. Step two, get your ingredients. That's pretty simple. We've already covered the ingredients, we know that that C minor five finger scale works perfectly over that baseline. And again, if you need to know well, what scales work over what chords and you know, proaches, and enclosures and all that, that's what the confident improviser goes through. So if you want to dive into that more, just check out the confident improviser and you have exercise after exercise that's going to show you exactly how to put all of this together the night before, right now, for our purposes today, we're just going to use that C minor five finger scale, which is a note C, D, E flat, F, and G. So that's what you're going to be doing in the right hand. And the left hand again, it's going to be that simple base, right? Alright, so now we have our ingredients. If you haven't practiced that going up and down, make sure you know that right. Again, it's C, D, F, G. Just make sure that you have that down well. Because you want to make sure that the right hand is also steady. So like I said, the left hand that has to be steady. Well, you got to also know what's going on in the right hand. Because the next step that we're going to do is now we're going to get our rhythm and we're going to start to apply notes to our rhythm. The rhythm we're going to use is that first rhythm real simple. Da, a buddy, buddy, great. Big Hole. No, like I said, I don't have to play it on B. So for right now, I'm just gonna play it on G. Now before I add any notes to this rhythm, one of the things I like to suggest to students is just try playing that rhythm on a single note while playing the accompaniment. So remember that accompaniment again, is that simple. baseline, right? So try playing this rhythm. Da, a buddy, buddy. 16:54 Big. No, da, buddy, buddy. Big. Oh, 17:01 no. Now that takes a little bit of like, kinda like figuring this out, like, you know, how do I line this up, right? And it's kind of like copy and paste in a way, right? So remember our accompaniment here, that's C, E flat, F G, that's the first measure. That's the second measure. Alright, well look at what's happening here. There's your first measure, there's your second measure, okay, so it's a to measure rhythm. And that's a to measure accompaniment. So you can just play this rhythm right over that accompaniment. Okay, so we've done that. Now, step four, we're going to add notes to the rhythm. And this is where sometimes students get a little bit confused, because we were talking about taking these notes from the five finger scan, right? And then as soon as you start to add the notes to the rhythm, students are confused, because they're like, well, what note do I start with, you know, what notes can I choose, you could choose any of those five notes, okay. So some of them are going to sound a little bit better than others. This is where your ear comes in, you start to figure out like, I don't like starting on that note. Typically, what I would suggest is start on a chord tone. So the chord is C minor seven. So the chord tones here are C, E flat, and G, B flat as well. But we're not getting to that as part of the five finger scale. So basically, the D and the f are not found in that C minor chord, right? So I'm probably going to want to start on a C and E flat or a G. And what did I do here in this example, I started on a C, okay, and then now rather than going up to the D, I skipped in one up to the E flat. So here's my leg. 18:51 You also hear that I kind of clicked my tongue and beats two men for over here. For you advanced players, you know, there's my back beat, right? So I'm kind of using my clicking my tongue as a placeholder, right? If you don't know what I'm talking about there, that's too advanced. Don't worry, you don't have to try it. You don't have to do that. Alright, so let's just try playing that right hand just by itself. So it's da, d by d by d. Great. Big Hole. Now if you're like me, I don't want to say great big hole note. So it'd be da d by d by d, o 1234. Di, d by the by. Oh 1234 together. 123412341234 Okay, so now let's cut a Let's sit back for a second and just just chat about this just a little bit because some students are gonna say, wait a sec, this this isn't improvising, right? This this is just making up licks. And there's no improvisation here is no spur of the moment. Yeah, well, here, here's the thing. First of all, I've been doing this a long time. And I and I know when I just say to a student, hey, here's a scaler, here's a customer go ahead and start to improvise. it all falls apart. Why is that? Well, the reason is that we have to build up that kinesthetic, you know, body memory, right? That the body mechanics of getting the right hand and the left hand playing the same thing at the same time, or the right thing at the same time. Okay, so how many times have you said, or how many times have I heard over the years, I can't play hands together, you absolutely can play hands together, unless there's some physical problem that's preventing you from playing hands together. But most people can play hands together. The reason they say they can't play hands together, is because the method usually that they follow, usually goes too fast, and it doesn't show them and break it down slowly. So they start with something simple. You see how simple we're starting our improvisation here. Now, this is not where you're going to end. This is just the beginning. This is just scratching the surface. So what do you do now? Right with this, it's a very simple rhythm DOD d by d by d by 1234. Simple rhythm, even if you've never played music before, I can teach you that rhythm in less than five minutes, right? within a you know, 1530 minutes, you could be playing this hands together, even if you've never played piano before. So now where do you go from here? Now you take the notes and you re arrange the notes. You don't change the accompaniment. You don't change the rhythm. That's key. Okay? Because a lot of times what students want to do is they'll want to do this. 21:55 Alright, yeah, I got I got 21:59 to start doing this. And then guess what, the rhythm all falls apart. And guess what, as soon as the rhythm fall all falls apart? Nobody wants to hear that. Okay. The example I like to use is like, 22:12 I do that. 22:17 You like hearing that? Right? That sounds good. Well, what if I do this? Write all the same notes all the quote unquote, write notes, but I'm playing it with horrible rhythm. Guess what? Nobody wants to hear that bad rhythm, right? Same thing when it comes to improvisation as well. If your rhythm is horrible, your improvisation is going to sound horrible, right? So if you want your improv to sound good, you have to get down your rhythm. Right? So now what do you do with this? Well, rather than starting on C, change it around. Yeah. And usually what I say is just go to the opposite end. So if I start on C, start on G, and then try coming down. Definitely. No, like that was Okay, that's good. Hey, what's 23:35 changed. That's what starts to happen next, as you get the rhythm down well, and you get your accompaniment down, well, then you naturally start to move into your own stuff. This is where the magic happens. I've seen it happen time and time again, where a student will start with something very simple like this, but very quickly, will start to graduate into their own stuff. So the first thing though, is you got to get this down well, right. Okay, so let's talk about some practice routines here. Number one, practice each of the rhythms individually. All right, and see, notice how I said away from the piano, you can download this sheet, okay, or take whatever rhythm sheet you want, but download the rhythms here. Practice these rhythms individually, all right, you really want to get them down Well, you want to make sure that you vocalize them as well. If you feel silly, vocalizing. Don't vocalize. But I will tell you that it helps. And usually the students that don't vocalize they're the ones that have trouble with rhythm. So choice is yours. Number two, try reversing the order of the rhythm or mixing them together. I'll talk about that in a second. Right, number three, add notes to the rhythm and create a book of licks. So just like we did here, how we have a rhythm, we had our ingredients and then we created licks, you can do the same thing and you could write these out. You can have dozens and dozens of licks. Alright, and number four, try playing the ingredients. Over the accompaniment patterns from lesson number one, right? So like try doing these and then try bringing them over into that lesson one, right? So try taking these rhythms and you can apply them into that lesson one as well. Alright. So how is talking about mixing up the rhythms. Alright, let's go back to the rhythms here for a second. Okay, so we have let's just take this, these two rhythms right here we have dot d by d by d by great big holdup, okay, so let's take off this second measure here, the great big whole note, kind of boring, right, just holding it out for four beats. And instead, let's bring in this rhythm d by d by da da. So then I have dot d by d by d by d by d by da, da. So you see how I took the second part, the second measure, right, you could think of it as the first as well, it doesn't matter. But the second measure the fourth eighth notes in two quarter notes, take that. And then I just put it at the end of that first rhythm. Okay, so now that allows me to create a bunch of brand new rhythms, I could take the first measure of one rhythm, tacking on to the second measure of a different rhythm, take the first measure of this rhythm, tacking on to the first measure of a different rhythm, right, so you have all these different permutations, you could also go so far as to change around the rhythms inside of the measure. Since these rhythms are all in four, four time, what I suggest you do is split the measure in half, right, so what you should do is put a little graphic here for you, right? So take this and kind of thin, but you can still see it right? See how you could just break this up right in half. So take the first half of the of the rhythm, and then the second half of the room. So we have da dee Ba, right, so that's the first two beats, and the second two beats is d by d. So then what I could do is in the second measure here, take these two parts, and rather than just repeating them exactly as is, maybe I play the second part, then the first part, so it'd be da, d by d by d by d by de by da, de ba, si si, I took the first measure broken in half, move that around, okay, these get into some more advanced concepts, for sure. So if that's confusing to you, you don't understand what I'm talking about. Don't worry about it, you don't have to do any of that. You can literally just practice these three rhythms, get these three rhythms down, well get them down with that basic accompaniment here, and you got some cool sound and stuff. That's what happens when I played this rhythm from exercise. 22. 27:57 Pretty neat, especially if you've never improvised before, to be able to make sounds like that pretty quickly is pretty cool. Alright. Alright, so anyway, that's it for this part three. Coming up, what I'm going to do is I'm going to take in this one, I was speaking more towards beginners, somewhat to intermediate and advanced. In Part Four, I'm going to give you some more advanced concepts that we're pulling out of the confident improviser things like our scale cells, different scales, like altered scales, half whole diminished, stuff like that are rootless chords. So that's going to be in Part Four, I'm going to show you how to take and then create some more advanced sounds and talk about some more advanced improvisation in Part Four. I also want to remind you that I love answering my students questions, right. So every other Thursday, students can join me for the confident improviser in standards by the dozen q&a session. That's my jazz edge students. If you want more information, just go back to jazz edge.com and you can get some more information. All right, so you got a lot of stuff to practice here, right? Practice through that simple accompaniment. Do the rhythms, try creating your licks and I will see you in part four of the series.

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