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Pete's  ARI LAY

One and a half times modulations.

We are currently at a time where lots of new musical material is coming into our world as drummers and percussionists. It is an opportunity to expand out vocabulary, a chance to integrate different perspectives and approaches. We see this all the time when players like Steve Gadd in the seventies and Keith Carlock or Jojo Mayer in the modern day come along and completely zoom into a new area of the art. These inputs can also come from global perspectives and approaches as well. Much has been said of the Indian aspects recently from drummers such as Steve Smith, Benny Grebb and Russ Miller. It is not something that will get worn with time because the palette of rhythmic possibilities is so infinite that it will keep us enriched for decades to come. If we keep our mind open and our ears finely tuned, there is a whole lot of stuff that can expand our horizons, whether we are Rock, Jazz or Pop players, drummers, percussionists or any instrumentalists.

One of the great things about some of the material is that you can take very simple ideas and transpose them so it is more of a mental workout than a physical one. We all love those crazy syncopated beats and moments where the drummer disguises where the rhythm is. Gavin Harrisons rhythmic illusions is a great example of that. For the next few articles we are going to go slightly into that zone by rhythmically modulation simple phrases up through three time levels.

Single speed
One and a half times speed
Double speed

Lets take a simple pattern of three eighth notes followed by an eighth note rest and take it through these modulations.

Example 1

Practice this with a metronome. Once you get inside the feeling of the modulation with simple and short phrases like this then longer and more complicated phrases become easier. In India they will take whole long passages, sometimes four or eight bars up through these modulations. That is mastering time.

Lets now check this out with a slightly longer one bar pattern using only the bass and snare.

Example 2

This takes a little longer to sit comfortably but with a little work will sit in there. I cannot over stress the importance of using a metronome or a click for this.

Next we take another one bar phrase but this time involving the toms as well. This then becomes about hearing the melody and the rhythm through the modulations.

Example 3

One of the questions often asked with regard to Indian rhythms is "It's all well and good, but how can I use it in the settings
I often find myself in such as Pop, Rock or Jazz". It is true, often
we see stuff which is Indian inspired leaning towards a more thought out, intellectual style of music and playing which is not always the direction a drummer or percussionist would take. Even those that do don't always find outlets for their deeper studies within the context of a regular gig they might be doing.

However, this is not an argument against studying and bringing some of these influences on board. Any new pattern or task has a whole load of benefits that come about from working into it's depths, deepening our rhythm and concentration skills.

Quite often we over emphasize the physical aspect of these endeavours. The mental side of things can be just as rewarding. Take this incredibly easy pattern (Bars 1 and 2 of example 1) and take it through the modulations of one and a half times and double speed. (As in the full example 4). What we have is a tricky mental task of really feeling the phrase within and across the triplet context.

Example 4

Next up we will use the same template but only with the left hand playing the main part on the snare. The bass drum will fill in the gaps and the right hand will play quarter notes throughout. This really forces you to get your head around the triplet feel when you switch into one and a half times speed.

Example 5

Having worked through this whole thing one can then start to extract small parts of it and build grooves or themes from that. At the very least, from working through this you would have developed your sense of time and also your sense of independence.

If we were to turn up on a regular rock gig and start throwing this stuff at the band then it might be difficult to find an application but when we look at these type of things as 'rhythm skill developers' we can think of it in a completely different way. Beyond the satisfaction of getting to the point of where we feel comfortable playing it, we can use it as a store of rhythm information from which we can develop lots of other stuff. Look at Steve Gadds use of the Paradiddle for example. A simple and straightforward rudiment but with a little creative thought it can become a whole new thing. If he sat there thinking 'Well, this is only good for rudimentary accents on the snare drum' then that whole journey of creative discovery would have been lost.

Anyway, just to remind ourselves, here is the very simple root phrase in 4/4 eight notes.

Example 6

Now below we have a triplet modulation (3 in the space of 2) of the same thing played with the left hand on the snare drum whilst the right hand plays jazz time on the ride cymbal. Also, we have two and four on the hi hat foot.

Example 7

This for me is a really great way to use this type of modulation. You can take any eighth note simple phrase and modulate it in this way. Then apply the same principles of adding the jazz time and you have a whole new exercise each time. It leads to a lot variations which work the left hand and the concept of jazz independence in an interesting way, not a million miles from some of the examples in Jim Chapins Advanced Techniques for the Modern Drummer.

Next we will add the bass drum in all the gaps. We will keep the ride cymbal and hi hat parts and thus give ourselves a whole new challenge.

Example 8

Of course, we can then go about extracting smaller sections from this overall pattern to create new approaches to the same material. It will lead to endless possibilities.

To recap, we started out by asking the question, 'how can certain Indian rhythmic formalities be used in non Indian music such as Pop, Rock and Jazz' We have partly answered that question by seeing the many paths of discovery that can come from this material if one looks outward from the pure pedantic content and towards the creative potentialities that arise.

Now we have come full circle from straight rhythmic modulation and we are working upon derivations and extracts from our original eight note phrase modulations. Bear in mind there's lots more stuff like this in my book, 'Indian rhythms for the drum set' on Hudson music.

Lets start this by extracting a segment from example 7. We will extract one bar starting from bar one beat 2. (Snare only). Using the material in this way is a good method for coming up with random phrases which we otherwise might not think of.

Example 9

Now, lets play that with the left hand and play with the right hand a regular 6/8 pattern but as triplets.

Example 10

Then we will add this bass drum and hi hat foot pattern which implies ambiguity back into the phrase. (Remember, this all came about as the result of rhythmically modulating a phrase into triplets. We then extracted a small chunk of it and used that as our starting point. Of course by doing this we lost the ambiguity of the larger phrase).

Example 11

Now lets put all that together, the extracted phrase, the 6/8 feel on the ride and the foot pattern.

Example 12

Now we can take this with an inversion of the modulation process and step this up a gear into sixteenth notes. Everything remains the same but we have just modulated into sixteenths in example five. Notice how much easier it is to play this pattern when we hear it as sixteenths. A good exercise to develop our ears to hear this on the triplet and sixteenths level is to play four bars of each with a click or metronome. Definitely grooves to go into a trance to if you keep it going uninterrupted for an hour.

Example 12.5



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