Category : Chants & Rhythms

Examples of creating a rhythmic phrase pattern and the examination of its compositional parts.

Duple Chant in 13 #1

The chant is pretty simple because of the way it is divided. You can divide any chant any way you want depending on where the weights land. A weight is where things meet or shift. In this case, beat 8 is the shift. A rest occurs on beat 9. The kick comes again on beat 11. That’s one way of looking at it. I demonstrate at 158BPM. As with all the chants, repetition is key at a slow tempo. You can also count a 4 half beats (each beat equals two) and a 5. Instead of a hiccup, this chant has a backup beginning on beat 9. The ride has a unique pattern landing on beats 1, 4, 7, 10, and 12. Of course, counting while playing is difficult and I don’t recommend it. However, examining this gives you a clear understanding of the mechanics. The pedaled hat lands with each snare and fills the gap on beat 9.

Triple Chant in 11 #1

This chant is something that should be approached very slowly because it sounds a lot easier than it is to perform. The snare and kick pattern in one bar repeats. The easiest way to look at this is realizing the simplicity of the relationship between the snare and kick. The beginning of the second measure (or repeat) gives the chant what I call a hiccup. When repeating at a tempo around 120 BPM with a click or metronome, each pulse lands on each beat making it easy to know exactly where all the beats are. In other words, the metronome counts every beat. The ride cymbal lands every other beat creating a crossover layer. The hip thing is the turnaround on the second measure with the ride cymbal landing on beat 2 along with the second 8th note on the kick. This takes slow practice and repetition. Then there is the challenge of launching into the chant along with the click to begin with.

Duple Chant in 11 #1

When approaching odd meter in 11, there are so many beats per measure that this chant breaks it into two parts. There are many ways to divide 11. This is a simple example to approaching the meter. When the numbers get higher, there are more opportunities to break down the numbers. We are looking at this chant with 8 + 3 (or 8 and 3). As always we start with a slow tempo loop, you can clearly hear the division of 8 and 3 as the chant emphasizes beats 1 and 9 on the kick. Once you become relaxed move on to a faster tempo. This chant sounds more even this way than odd.

Five Elements Full Edition Philadelphia 2014

Screenshot 2015-11-01 15.45.26This close to 3 hour mega feature demonstrates the most important and original approaches to rhythm featuring alto saxophonist Steve Coleman and Five Elements. The name of the band has nothing to do with the members or number of members, but everything to do with Earth, Water, Fire, Wind and Ether. 
Four compositions are demonstrated here “Pi”, “LSLLSSL”, “Drop Kick” and “Wheel Of Nature”. This dual cam workshop shows how Steve applies specific rhythms to forms and how the chords, harmonies, and melodies can be layered in many ways. Expansion is demonstrated on much more than odd meter as the music is multi-layered. The way the band experiments, rehearses, and builds are clearly seen here in the rawest form. There are no smoke and mirrors and definitely no shortcuts. Only hard work, repetitive looping, clapping and singing are the basis for understanding all of the music in its simplest form. There is no other music on the planet such as the music and many approaches of band leader Steve Coleman.