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Locketts Pocketts

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.

Example 1
First, let's take these two simple phrases:

Example 2
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:

Example 3
Now a Paradiddle - A B A A B A B B

Example 4
Now we will add a third unit, three sixteenths long. This is where it starts to get much more interesting.

Example 5
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 on!

Part 2

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 instrument.

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 configuration;

A, A, A1, A1, A, A, A1, A1, A1, C, A1, A1

Example 1

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 patterns freely.

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, A3, A3.

Example 2

This could be played on drum set as a groove between bass and snare, whilst the Hi Hat sounds eighth notes.

Example 3

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 notated them.

Example 4

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.

Part 3

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

Example 1

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 marks.

Example 2

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

Example 3

Finally we will look at a combination using E1 and A.

Example 4

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.

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