You just feel it — usually on some guttural, physical level. Indeed, we want to be able to swing hard.
As jazzers, we have all sorts of words and phrases we use to describe the special moments when our improvisations achieve an exceptional sense of time-feel and a certain rhythmic sparkle. The rhythmic aspects that make jazz a unique and compelling style of music are incredibly elusive, elastic, variable, and dynamic.
That being said, no matter how challenging it may be to define, conceptualize, and practice swing, the truth is you have the power to improve your sense of time, time-feel, rhythm, swing, and phrasing through concerted effort. However, I want to show you three practicing tools that, with work, can help you take your playing to the next level rhythmically. One of the best ways to improve your sense of musical time is to practice polyrhythms and rhythmic independence exercises.
To refresh our memories, a polyrhythm is a musical texture in which there are multiple overlapping, interweaving, and contrasting rhythmic layers or elements occurring simultaneously. Jazz is full of polyrhythms — in fact, polyrhythms are one of the defining rhythmic features of many styles of jazz music.
In order to address polyrhythms, you first must develop a good sense of duple and triple time-feels by themselves. A good exercise to start with is to put a metronome at a moderate tempo and switch back and forth between duple- and triple-based time-feels.
Then move on to improvising more complex rhythms with both a duple and triple time-feel once you feel more comfortable. After you get comfortable performing these types of exercises with a metronome, try practicing without the metronome. For an added challenge, try performing these exercises while improvising over jazz standards.
Polyrhythms: The Musician's Guide [Peter Magadini, Wanda Sykes] on Amazon. com. *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. (Percussion). Peter Magadini's. Editorial Reviews. From the Author. Studying polyrhythms can open doors to a more expansive comprehension of time, space and rhythm for any musician.
An additional useful exercise that combines playing with dance is to march while you practice by stomping out a pulse lightly with your feet while simultaneously improvising rhythms switch time-feels at will. After you get comfortable with switching between duple and triple time feels, you can tackle some polyrhythmic exercises.
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