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Odd Time Improvisation

Discussion in 'Ask Adam Nitti' started by cliff78, Oct 26, 2013.

  1. cliff78


    Jul 24, 2006
    Any tips on improvising in an odd time signatures like 7/8 , 5/4 , and 9/8. I can hold a groove on these time signatures. But when i solo i sometimes get lost and wait for the rhythm, just to get back on track. Thanks in Advance.
  2. skwee


    Apr 2, 2010
    Yes: play longer rhythmic values (holding notes over the barlines), especially at the start. IF you want to throw in some quick stuff, make sure it gets over quickly, and then fade back into the long values.
  3. adamnitti


    Nov 29, 2001
    hi cliff78-

    the thing that makes the odd time signatures more challenging is the fact that they are not as familiar. most of us don't have to even think about playing in 4/4; we've been conditioned to it for years and years so it feels completely natural. one of the things i like to do is write grooves that fit odd time signatures that are easy to internalize and play without intentionally counting. by becoming accustomed to playing these grooves, the cycle of the odd time pulse begins to feel more natural and over time after playing more and more of these grooves we sense the cycle of each measure without stumbling.

    now, when it comes to soloing, it also helps tremendously if you can 'sing' or hear these grooves in your head underneath what you are playing. it gives you something solid to hold onto and reference even if you are not playing that exact groove. a lot of drummers use a similar approach when soloing in jazz so that they do not get lost in the form. they will basically sing the melody of the tune in their head while they are soloing so that they stay aligned with the form. it's like doing 2 things at once but it's actually easier than you might think. the other benefit is that your soloing phrasing will be likewise influenced by the groove or melody that you are singing in your head, so that you incorporate an interactive element into your phrasing.

    anyways, these are just a couple of concepts out of many, but i hope they help you out-
  4. cliff78


    Jul 24, 2006
    Thanks Adam. I'll try those out. I'll let you know how it goes.

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