Monday, August 13, 2012

Lesson #19: Giant Steps Polyrhythmic Etude

In todays lesson we're taking a look at a polyrhythmic etude I wrote out over John Coltrane's Giant Steps.  The right hand is playing rhythmic figure in 7 eight notes against the left hand's 4.  The right hand's 7 eighth notes are represented by a grouping of two quarters and one dotted quarter.  The left hand's grouping of 4 eight notes is represented by one half note.

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Practicing this Etude:

Step One:  Make sure you can feel the 7/4 subdivision.  Practicing counting, clapping, snapping and playing the rhythmic grouping (quarter, quarter, dotted quarter) against the metronome quarter or half-note pulse.  Be sure your are absolutely comfortable with this step before moving on!

Step Two:  Play the melody by itself.  Really try to feel the rhythmic groupings against the quarter note pulse of the metronome.

Step Three:  Play through the exercise slowly concentrating on perfect subdivision of the beat.  Be absolutely positive you are not dropping any beat.  Gradually speed up to the desired tempo.  Remember, the goal we're trying to achieve isn't speed.

Here are some other tips we discovered in previous lessons:

Turn on the metronome at a slow enough tempo where you can play the exercise effortlessly.

1) Play each hand as written while concentrating on hearing the melody in your head.

2) Play the L.H. as written while singing the right hand melody.

2b) An alternative to this step include pantomiming playing the right hand while singing. This helps connect the physical action of playing with your aural memory.

3) Sing the R.H. melody away from your instrument.

Was that not enough of a challenge for you?
1) Consider taking small sections you enjoyed through all 12 keys.

2) Practice displacing each phrase by half a beat, a full beat, or one and one half beats.

3) Practice improvising with the melody by altering the rhythms within each phrase.

View your free .pdf of this lesson on Scribd. 
If you enjoyed this lesson, please consider donating.  Thank you!

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