phrasing in odd meters

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  1. Matt

    an ensemble i play in is performing "a seeking spirit" from the Dave holland band, and i can't seem to get any decent phrases going in 5/4. anyone have thoughts on practicing 5/4 phrasing and other odd metric things?

  2. jorgemg1984

    One thing I notice when I play odd meters is that I loose fluidity over the bar line... So I would play 1 eight note to the bar line, 2, 3, 4, 5...

  3. 12,123

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  4. arewolfe

    5/4 has been problematic for me for many years (vs. 7/8 which I find intuitive). The only thing that has worked for me is playing music in 5/4 day after day on a regular basis.

  5. gleepglop

    I found a number of things helpful:

    - set a metronome on half notes and feel it as a two bar phrase (like one bar of 10/4)
    - feel 5/4 as two groupings of 5/8 (work on different groupings: 3+2 + 3+2, 2+3 + 2+3, etc.)
    - write out a bunch of interesting rhythms in 5/4 using only 8ths, quarters, and rests . . . like do a page of rhythms and work on improvising using those. Imagine a tie on the last note of a bar to create a two bar phrase using two of the one-bar rhythms.
    - work out some rhythmic pickups and endings to use with one and two bar rhythms to create 2 to 4 bar ideas

  6. aramaya

    Develop some couple clave patterns to help you solidify the phrase length.

    This tune has a really simple clave. If you concentrate on hearing that clave internally
    (instead of trying to count five) and make that your rhythmic mode, it should help.
    1 2 (3) + (4) + (5) It feels more symmetric to hear it this way, as opposed to 12 123, 12 123
    which technically it could be, but then the weight of your accents would feel like downs
    instead of ups on the 2nd half of the phrase. It would also sound like you are trying to
    play bulgarian music (12 123 approach) instead of afro-cuban music (clave approach).

    Also keeping in your ear some of the counter lines from the head, or the drum break
    in the middle of the tune could help you solidify time.

    Perhaps playing in odd meters gives you MORE fluidity over the bar lines, bc you are always
    feeling like the carpet is shifting. Once you get comfortable with that shifting, you will realize
    the advantage to odd meters for playing over the bar lines. Ultimately, you have to trust your
    rhythm section and hear where things are falling. Once you get that phrase length in your ear,
    you should be able to both play the meter or phrase through it.

  7. callum

    Make the metronome the dotted quarter and record yourself playing in 5 against it.

    Listen back to your recorded self and play a bass line or count or something to check that you didn't drop a beat.

    I found at first it was useful to use tunes that have 12 bars so that where the metronome lies is always in the same place at the top of the form.


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