Sunday, February 2, 2020

Combining ideas

Today I'd like to discuss taking 2 or more different ideas and combining them in the practice room. For sure, it's essential not to work on too many things at once, especially when first learning a beat/idea/concept. Shortly after one starts to get it together, however, can be a great time to try and join seemingly disparate ideas together. This helps with thematic thinking as well as making each separate concept a bigger and more accessible  part of one's musical vocabulary.

 Let's try it shall we?

Say I've decided to memorize the standard tune "Alone Together" . Here's a nice example of the tune I haven't heard before.

It's not a super complicated tune, but the form is a little unusual AABA, but the first 2 As are 14 bars each. DO NOT TRY TO READ THIS OR COUNT BARS! Learn to sing the melody by heart ( find a vocal version with the lyrics too, if possible, and learn them as well ) and it will make perfect sense. If you don't, it will NEVER make any sense at all.

Okay, once we have the tune memorized, what's next? Well, how about taking a great, simple idea I just recently saw in the "Four on The Floor" blog,  Triplets & Bass Drum in the Middle  Because this example is short and uncomplicated ( at least in theory, execution is another matter ) it works well to be combined with something, because it can be easily memorized. Again, please work with each idea to get it under your hands and ears before you do anything else. Once you do, try singing "Alone Together" to yourself while you play this exercise. What do you notice? Did you not remember or not represent the tune accurately in any way? Then you need to go back and learn the tune more completely. Did you mess up the triplet/bass drum lick? Then maybe you need to spend more time working slowly on that alone and getting more comfortable with it.

Okay, we've got those two things together, what now? Well, we could really relate it to anything, but here's 2 things I've been adding to whatever I'm working on lately.

1)  Dynamics. One bar pp, one bar FF. Again this is a simple idea, but to do it without changing the lick at all or losing where you are in the tune may be challenging.

2) Making the hand strokes in the bass drum/triplet idea into buzzes.

Obviously, you can combine any number of initially separate ideas in any way you can imagine. My hope is this helps you see the similarities between all the things we practice rather than the differences, so we can use them musically in a variety of situations.

Best of luck and have fun! :)

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