Thursday, June 7, 2012

Faults - I Heard it! And Other Rhythmic Issues

So I said in my previous post that I need to hear my faults. And darn, I heard it too well!

My main problem right now is rhythmic and is called "rushing". At my last gig, each time my solo started, I started to push the beat. Sounded awful. I was off sync with the rest of the band. It showed up in the recording.

I then compared this recording to other recent recordings and I noticed it's not consistent. Usually I rush only for short phrases and then I'm back in sync. I'm not good enough to maintain an even rhythm perfectly for a whole tune and it's usually difficult for most until you get to the uppermost echelons of jazz.

I noticed that there was something different though at the last gig. Normally, my bass player will establish a walking bass (quarter note pulse). This is the typical swing pulse in 4/4. In modern jazz though, the rhythm section plays in an "open style". Typical of the interaction between Scot La Faro and Bill Evans back in the Vanguard album, each instrument is soloing at the same time. This cacophony of rhythms is very difficult to follow. So each person needs a strong pulse internally to not get lost. The bass will typically mix in 8th notes instead of just quarters and may have gaps with no beat. It can be really confusing.

In my case, I don't think I expected it because my bass player just came back from a Bassist Camp and learned some new stuff (from Victor Wooten). And this is an advanced style of playing that I am not used to yet.

Anyway, I practiced at home and my time is actually getting solid normally. So if I'm aware of it, I can stop the rushing. Sometimes you really see that awareness of a problem means another phase is developing. Today I was comfortably soloing at 230bpm with streams of eighth notes. It wasn't until I got to 240bpm that I had to break it up and do more syncopation because it was getting too much for me.

Looks like 230bpm for me was the old 200.

To get to a comfort level, I had to really focus on on upbeats. If my accents on the upbeat fails, I seem to lose control. Somehow, the upbeats ( 'and' in 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 ), grounds the pace and relaxes the rhythm. It's where you can drag by slightly increasing the length of the upbeats. If I focus on the downbeats, there's a seeming sync problem with the swing.

Beeboss at PW gave me a link to practice my rhythm that was really good. I can practice this away from the piano.

Try it out. It is best to set "Measures Off" to 4. So 4 measures on and 4 measures off. Then you have to supply your own beat. The metronome only clicks on 2 & 4 so you have to subdivide your own 1 & 2.

This is really hard to get accurately at 80bpm and below (at the moment). Feeling a slow pulse requires a different way of sensing time. Maybe I'll blog on this as I watch my progress. But I'm starting to feel a difference in my perception.

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