There are many ways to make your solos more interesting utilizing rhythm.
In previous lessons, Using Rests and Odd Groupings to Spice Up Your Rhythms and Accents and Odd Groupings: 12 Exercises to Spice Up Your Rhythms, I laid down the basic concept behind some of the exercises I talk about in this lesson.
I would highly recommend you to check those two lessons as well since they complement each other. But here are some quick definitions:
Odd Groupings: When you organize or group notes so their natural accent doesn’t land on the original pulse or strong beats of the measure. For instance: if we play 8th notes in a bar of 4/4 and we accent or give a different sound to every third note, that’s going to create a rhythmic illusion. So, those group of three notes over the 8th notes is what we call odd groups.
In this lesson, we’ll be applying a concept called Rate Shift as well. Let’s go over that definition.
Rate Shift: If we want to create a group of 3 against 8th notes, we’ll be changing the rate of every third 8th note to a different one. In other words, we will substitute that 8th note for its equivalent in another rate. For instance, two 16th notes, or maybe three 16th note triplets or four 32nd notes.
If this doesn’t make complete sense right away, seeing some of the examples below will make this clearer.
So let’s try this out with the same grouping we have been working on in the previous lessons.
Groups of three over 8th Notes. Rate Shift on the first note of the group.
Groups of two over 8th notes triplets. Rate Shift on the first note of the group.
Groups of four over 8th notes triplets. Rate Shift on the first note of the group.
Groups of five over 8th notes triplets. Rate Shift on the first note of the group.
Groups of three over 16th notes. Rate Shift on the first note of the group.
Groups of five over 16th notes. Rate Shift on the first note of the group.
You can also displace the Rate Shift and come up with different starting points.
To practice these exercises, we are going to use the same steps from the previous lessons. Here are they again:
How to Practice These Without Your Instrument:
The first way to go around these is trying to internalize these rhythms without using an instrument. For that, I like to do the following:
- First, clap the primary subdivision. In case of Ex. 1, we are going to clap 8th notes.
- Then add your foot, either left or right, and start tapping on the main quarter note pulse.
- Next, add the Rate Shift. clap the rhythms as notated
- Once you are comfortable with those first three steps, then add a count. I highly recommend you to count out loud: 1, 2, 3, 4.
This can be challenging. It took me a while to be able to count and play these exercises at the same time. But once you master it, you’ll notice how familiar they become and easy to incorporate into your playing.
Another thing you can do is, sing the exercises. You can add clapping on the rest to work on rhythmic accuracy. Check 5 Exercises To Improve Your Rhythmic Precision And Feel
Another thing I like to do when learning new rhythmic ideas is to play them along with songs I’m working on. You can play your favorite record and start clapping over, or take any of the Learn Jazz Standards Play-Along tracks and do the same.
By doing this, you’ll start figuring out how the groupings fit within the changes and the melody. It is helpful when applying these ideas to real musical situations because you don’t want to get lost or turned around.
How to Practice These With Your Instrument:
On your instrument, you can apply these ideas to your daily warm-up routines, like scales or arpeggios, etc. Instead of playing scales up and down, you can play them using
You can apply them to comping patterns, for instance, the 8th and 16th note-based examples are great to use over Brazilian music or another type of straight 8th note styles. All triplet based ones work fantastic over swinging tunes.
Once you master these exercises, you can combine them all. Rests, accents, and Rate Shift to spice up your rhythms and broaden your rhythmic vocabulary.
These exercises can get extremely challenging, but be patient, the hard work will pay off.