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Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Developing a rhythmic concept Part III

Ok so now that we've been trying to think more like a drummer both at our instrument and away from our instrument I though it would be instructive to find some real live music performances to model and study. Remember the goal is to try and use polyrhythms and formulate some new concepts in your own improvising. The example I've chosen is from my own mentor Herbie Hancock who is someone I've spent a lot of time studying and emulating.

Herbie has had some very developed rhythmic concepts in his playing ever since he burst on the jazz scene in New York at the young age of 21. I find it exhilarating to follow the development of how Herbie expands on these concepts throughout his career. Recordings of Herbie from 2015 next to recordings of him from 1962 bear an incredible resemblance in the way Herbie presents his conceptual elements of rhythm, harmony, and melody. And yet we also hear a remarkable maturation and deepening of these musical elements.

The clip below is from 1964 and demonstrates one of Herbie's hallmark rhythmic concepts. After navigating the changes during the exposition part of many of his solos Herbie is then able to continue to build intensity by using some basic polyrhythmic groupings in different interesting ways. In this case he's basically taking a scale and organizing it into subdivisions of quarter note triplets.

The exercise below demonstrates a way of taking Herbie's rhythmic concept during the last part of his solo. The bar numbers are a bit messed up because I transcribed the solo off the original released recording in which Herbie's solo is heavily edited to take out 2 choruses of material. But just advance the solo to the end part where they stop blowing on the form and are vamping over a II-V7-I-VI cycle.

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