Magical rainbow ponies

Rhythmic Exercises

(18 posts)


  1. steepcreeks

    Unfortunately I've spent too much of my time playing 8th note solos using occasional basic metric modulations that I could "hear". I was wondering if peeps here could lend advice in rhythmic exercises or devices you use in your playing or practicing, or if you recommend any instructional material that fits this subject that I should seek. Jerry Bergonzi's "Melodic Rhythms" any good?

    Some exercises i'm currently using are setting metronome to 40bpm for a 2 note quarter note phrase, playing dotted quarter notes (3 over 2), 8th notes (4 over 2), dotted 8ths (5 over 2), 8th notes triplets (6 over 2), dotted 8th note triplets (7 over 2), 16th notes (8 over 2)....up, down, up, down...

    an exercise my drummer has me doing are these triplet patterns, i guess i'm currently around 145ish (quarter notes)
    rlr lrl rlr lrl (1)
    rrl lrr llr rll (2)
    rrr lll rrr lll (3)
    rrr rll llr rrr (4)

    I'm a firm believer now, rhythm is king.. I always knew it, was just on the harmony vision quest for a bit. I walk around with metronomes 24/7 when I'm not at my instrument pretty much, in hopes of being able to increase my confidence on cross rhythm ideas & metric modulations and increase my over all rhythmic sense.

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  2. eSkills

    On the exercise you mention going from 1 to 8 notes per 2 beat, I like to mess around a bit with it, like for instance instead of going 1 -2 -3 -4 , I will do 7 - 1- 7 - 2- 7 - 3 - 7 -4 etc. You can really take this exercise pretty damn far, like you could spread it out over a whole bar with 4 beats, or just over 1 beat... Basically the only thing stopping you is your imagination. My teacher also handed me some Lennie Tristano exercises which he learned when he was on a seminar with Warne Marsh. I will see if I can find these, but as far as i can remember it was basically something a long the lines of playing an eightnote phrase, and placing it on every eight note place you could in a bar. And then doing the same thing with triplets, quintuplets, etc etc.

  3. Colonel Trane

    This thread intrigues me. I haven't ever really thought about practicing rhythms. I'd like to hear some other people's take on this (cough kurt cough)

  4. jazznan

    Melody is King, my opinion.

  5. Sandemose

    jazznan: how would a melody without the rhytmic aspect be? It wouldnt even exist. Even one long note for 20 mins its a rhythm. A sound in time and space. Everything is rhythm. Music cant exist without it.

    I have this odd time signature excercise that I work with. I think I wrote it out in an earlier post. Like 5/16. I take three 16ths notes, and one 8ths note = 5/16. Then I set the metronome on 5/4 and play 8th, 16th, 16th, 16th four times = 5/4. Then I displace the 8th note following this system: 16th, 8th, 16th, 16th - 16th, 16th, 8th, 16th - 16th, 16th, ,16th, 8th. I practice each for some time, each placement of the 8th note that is. The next step is to displace the 8ths note, four times within the 5/4 bar. Thats hard. I cant do it yet. The next thing is to add one more 8th note = 16th, 8th, 8th = 5/16 and then displace the 16th note around within the 5/4 bar. I learn alot from this. Its my favorite time excercise at the moment.

    Best, Sandemose

  6. steepcreeks

    Thank you eSkills & sandemose, I can't even do these on easy tunes, happy to be struggling thus learning:

    Chord Melody in 4/4 - Quarter, Quarter, Rest, Quarter / Quarter, Rest, Quarter, Quarter/ Rest, Quarter, Quarter, Rest.....
    Tried playing it on the gig last night. Picked a few easy tunes like Four On Six & Yesterdays...Tried it on some other stuff like All the Things, Darn that Dream..I got lost.
    I am SOOO excited to be practicing this though, it totally brings the ensemble together, like a hip shout chorus

    Single line thing i've been trying over 4/4... Playing 4 8th notes followed by an 8th note rest... repeat, repeat. I stole this from the Bergonzi book Melodic Rhythms, just some exercise my teacher game me, hence why I'm purchasing that book, think it's going to be full of these things.

  7. jazznan

    Melody contains rhythm, you're right, but that's what's so great about a great melody, it has it all! I'm not saying neglect rhythm, but I want to hear a great melody (that is rhythmically happening) above anything else, I don't walk down the street and hum rhythms, I hum melodies.....I don't serenade my girl with rhythms, right?

  8. add4

    I used to practice reading rythms by opening the real book at a random page and sing the rythms only. Somtimes, i would come across a standard i had heard before, but didn't knew its name. I noticed that i sometimes could remember the melody by singing the rythm only.
    What i mean is that in my opinion, a strong melody comes first from a strong rythmic idea, then the notes add color and texture to it.

  9. jazznan

    I totally disagree, you really can't divorce rhythm from melody, that's obvious, but I think the melody comes first, and it's not just a color, it's really almost the only thing that matters, ask Bach, Rodgers and Hammerstein, or anyone else (except for Cecil Taylor), or maybe him too, and melody is the thing.

    I almost couldn't disagree enough....but everyone's got there own opinion

  10. Sandemose

    jazznan: Im with you on all points, but not on the girl serenade thing. I laughed so hard. Why not only sing rhythms to your girl?
    "Bom-chicka, bom-bom-chicka, bom-chicka..etc".
    I sometimes think of melodies as pictures. They contain different elements that canĀ“t be sepperated but together creates something bigger than the parts individually.

    Best, Sandemose

  11. jazznan

    Can't argue with "Bom-chicka, bom-bom-chicka, bom-chicka", hahaha

  12. Quintricacy

    Hey Guys, first post here but I have been lurking in the background for a while.

    My Dad is a jazz musician and he's been working with Rhythmic devices for many years. He has a book out on it which I will link below. Also check out Nelson Veras playing things in quintuplets.

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  13. steepcreeks

    THank you MUCH for posting Quintricacy, your dad is an amazing player, and the info on his site is superb.
    I'll order his book, listen to his music, and read/share his essays with other musicians.
    Sincerely..... & please tell your dad thanks as well

  14. jazznan

    one of the links on the site,, is not working, comes up with a security message?

    this one does not work:

    This one does work:

  15. Quintricacy

    I've been thinking about this rhythm thing for a while now. It seems that contemporary guitar players really neglect the vast amount of rhythmic techniques that can be explored. Most of the solos I've been checking out lately( Rogers, Kriesberg, Gilad etc) are predominantly 8th note based with the odd triplet thrown in here and there. Sometimes you hear groupings of 5s but they're 8th notes grouped in 5. At the moment in college were practicing playing over a medium blues and using quarter note triplets grouped in 4's as our new quarter note and then playing 8th notes over the triplets. Basically the 8th notes in the modulated tempo are 8th note triplets grouped in 4s in the original tempo. The trick is to swing the 8th note triplets to give a sense of playing in a different tempo.

    I have yet to hear any of these guys do this and it's a shame. What do you think?

  16. Joel

    I hear your point soloists' rhythmic language that lacks the complexity found in their harmonic language; but I've seen a lot of the guys you mentioned employ metric modulations live, mostly as a compositional device, but also when playing with drummers like Ari Hoenig (maybe just trying to keep up!).

    Of course, it is in the bebop tradition to imply rhythmic complexity through accented quaver lines.

  17. arewolfe

    Interesting. For me rhythm is more important than melody. Specifically for some of the reasons Quintracy mentions about 8ths notes dominating the structure of a great deal of jazz guitar solos.

    I've been obsessed with polymetrics and polyrhythms for a very long time. I typically get more out of a song when a group or soloist pulls off a "rhythmic illusion" or something that can't be understood the first time I hear it... love that stuff more than any melody I've ever heard.

    (guess I should disclose my fanatacism for Meshuggah. They've been at the top of my list for over 10 years. They're 99% rhythm and 1% melody).

    EDIT: Sandemose, those 5/16 exercises are great. I've heard Dave Kikoski go off w/ stuff like that. Really makes it interesting. Meshuggah actually has a song based off the last part of your first exercise (16th, 16th, 16th, 8th)... "The Mouth Licking What You've Bled" ...and of course who can deny the awesomeness of the beginning of KR's solo on Blue Line?

  18. Sandemose

    arewolfe: I didnt know the rhythmic formula for "Mouth licking..." was what I wrote in the excercise. Cool of you to see that. Meshuggah is easily my favorite band of all times. What they do is so progressive and deep in so many ways, and at the same time they dont really seem to care that much about being intellectual about it. Ive met them some times (seen them live 10 times or so), and they are really goofy guys, in a relaxed way. I got into them around when "None" was released, around -93 or when I was 12 years old. The impact was enormous. Speaking about that. They recently released a live DVD. Its so good its not even funny. The collective pocket this group creates is crazy. Here is clip from the DVD:

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    Best regards,



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