Pete looks shows us how to get some Indian
flavor into our playing…
There is a lot of
literature out there that analyses Indian rhythms and techniques in
detail and orchestrates them on drum set and percussion. However, there
are plenty of rhythm artists out there that want to absorb a few of the
influences and spices of the genre and incorporate that into their own
style of music without an in depth study.
With this in mind I have developed a system
using simple phrases where one can develop Indian 'sounding' patterns
which can be used in any style of music. Bare in mind this really is
more of a 'flavour' of Indian rhythm rather than being culturally
accurate. For that you would need to see my book, 'Indian rhythms for
the drum set' available on Hudson music.
First, let's take these two simple phrases:
The first step is to improvise with them,
putting them in any order. Clap quarter notes whilst you do this. First
up, let's do A B A B A A B B:
Now a Paradiddle - A B A A B A B B
Now we will add a third unit, three sixteenths
long. This is where it starts to get much more interesting.
Now let's improvise with these phrases. You
can put them together however you like but try to clap quarter notes and
keep the overall results in 4/4 or a time signature of your choice. In
example 05 we will use; A B C A B C B. This will amount to one bar of
4/4 as sixteenth notes.
If we look at the next
image I have made a printable page where you can cut out all the
different units and line them up to easily make longer phrases. There
are a few of each unit to make this more useful. You can either pull out
the page or photocopy it and cut out the units. Making more copies would
mean you can make even longer phrases. I have also added a fourth unit
that is four sixteenth notes long and a fifth unit five sixteenths long
to spice it up even more. (You could think of the five units as the two
and three note units played together but once you have various
orchestrations for each unit then this five beat unit would become
different to that)
You can speak the
syllables or else just find a sticking and orchestration on your
instrument. Start off by building phrases over one bar of 4/4, then two
bars and then four bars. Then you can move onto other time signatures.
The final goal is for you to be able to improvise with the units. It can
lead to some very Indian sounding patterns. More units to cut out later
So far we have started
to look at building Indian style patterns using simple building blocks.
We developed a cut out page with numerous variations of each unit and
used this as a platform to get comfortable with putting these units
together in various configurations and in lots of time signatures. The
real objective is to get comfortable with this to a point where you can
freely improvise with the units and develop your own phrases on the fly.
The next stage on from that of course would be to orchestrate this on
your respective instrument, be it drum set, percussion or any melodic
This time we will continue developing the
concept by expanding our selection of units. We will begin by taking our
original 'A' unit and making it slightly longer with a gap. This extends
the original single eighth note into a dotted eight note. To a point,
this is similar to the group of 3/16 we had as unit C last time but the
fact this new unit is a single hit, adds a whole different character to
possible lyrical combinations.
Let's start with A, A1
and C. (Refer to the cut out sheet for the reference). Below we have the
A, A, A1, A1, A, A, A1, A1, A1, C, A1, A1
Notice how the
addition of A1 really adds a lyrical feel to the pattern. This is great
for building unusual off beat bass / snare grooves. The important thing
is really to be able to improvise with these units and develop your own
Now let's look at the next big additions to
the units A2 and A3. In example two we have a simple pattern just using
these two units. The configuration is;
A2, A3, A2, A3, A2,
This could be played
on drum set as a groove between bass and snare, whilst the Hi Hat sounds
It's also worth noting
that I have notated some ghost syllables in A1 and A3. These are often
used by Indian musicians to help place the spaces and feel of the
phrases rhythmically. It is a very useful method.
Here is how I have
I have also included a new seven beat unit on
the cut out sheet to widen possibilities all the more. All the units
included on this next sheet should be copied and cut out and added to
the set we had earlier. They will all work together.
We should now be
getting fairly comfortable with the overall concept of improvising with
these phrases. For those that haven't, we are basically building a data
base of 2, 3, 4, 5, 7 and 9 beat units that we are putting together in
lots of different combinations to make vaguely Indian sounding passages
of rhythm. The goal is to be fluent enough with the patterns to be able
to freely improvise with them to be able to make interesting sounding
rhythmic patterns in any time signature. The units this time are all the
same length as last time but I have elaborated upon them by filling in
some extra notes. This really adds a bit more Indian spice to the whole
concept. The syllables at the thirty second note level might be a little
tricky to get your tongue around so if you have any problems, start with
a sticking for each unit instead. The syllables are not the important
thing for these articles. It is the rhythmic ideas.
Let's start by looking
how I have embelished the 2/16 'B' phrase on the cut out sheet. Quite
simply, I have doubled it up into four thirty second notes. (B1).
However, it gets much more interesting when we look at some of the
longer phrases. Let's look at 'C' and see how we have ‘decorated’ this
as in C1, C2, AND C3
Now let's put a simple
pattern together using b, b1, and c1. (Refer to the cut out sheet fore
these references). I have written the syllables on the cut out page but
not on the example notation. I have however marked the units with phrase
Take these three units
and start to improvise with them, slowly at first, building up to a
faster tempo. As you get comfortable with combining these, then move on
to include other units from the sheet. If there are any doubts then go
back to the simpler units from the previous articles and work your way
back up towards these more involved patterns. Let's look at the
variations I have created with the five beat unit. E, E1, E2, and E3
Finally we will look at a combination using E1
All these notated examples are merely for
demonstration. The important thing is to cut out the units from the
sheets and make up your own patterns in various time signatures, be it
4/4, 3/4, 7/8, 9/8, or whatever. Even just having a few of the patterns
memorised at hand to improvise with would give you an arsenal of
material once you have it orchestrated on your instrument. It can be
used as fills, rhythm ideas or however else you feel you can use it
musically. It really is an exciting world of rhythm out there.
percussion APP for iDevices developed with Sonosaurus LLC.
"You were born an
original; don't die a copy."