This JazzPianoSkills Podcast Episode continues to explore standard Rhythmic Vocabulary found in classic jazz language.
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Standard Rhythmic Vocabulary found in Classic Jazz Language
How to use Quarter Notes and 8th Notes to create Rhythmic Vocabulary Patterns
12 Classic Rhythmic Vocabulary Patterns used for developing a sense of time, proper jazz articulation, and improvisational ideas
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Welcome to jazz piano skills. I'm Dr. Bob Lawrence. It's time to discover, learn and play jazz piano. Today we are going to continue our journey to discover standard rhythmic vocabulary found in classic jazz language. We are going to learn how to use quarter notes and eighth notes to create rhythmic vocabulary patterns. And we are going to play 12 Classic rhythmic vocabulary patterns used for developing a sense of time proper jazz articulation, and of course, improvisational ideas. So as I always like to say regardless of where you are in your jazz journey, a beginner, intermediate player, and advanced player or even if you are a seasoned and experienced professional, you will find this jazz panel skills podcast lesson, continuing our exploration of rhythmic vocabulary to be very beneficial. If you are new to jazz piano skills if you are a new jazz piano skills podcast listener, I want to take the time right now to personally invite you to become a jazz piano skills member. Simply visit jazz piano skills.com to learn more about the abundance of jazz educational resources, materials, and services that are available for you to use. For example, as a jazz piano skills member, you will have access to the educational podcast packets, the illustrations, the lead sheets, the play alongs that I produced that I developed and published for every weekly podcast episode. These are invaluable tools that you should be using when studying and practicing jazz piano. As a jazz piano skills member, you also have access to the sequential jazz piano curriculum. And now this is a curriculum that is loaded with comprehensive courses using a self-paced format, educational talks, interactive media, video demonstrations, and all 12 keys, play alongs and more. Also, as a jazz piano skills member, you have a reserved seat and the online weekly masterclasses which are in essence, a one-hour online lesson with me every single week. And as a jazz piano skills Remember, you also have access to the private jazz piano skills community, which hosts a variety of engaging forums, podcast-specific forums, and course-specific forums, and of course, General jazz piano forums for you to enjoy each and every day. Last but certainly not least, as a jazz piano skills member you have unlimited, private, personal, and professional educational support whenever and as often as you need it. Again, visit jazz piano skills.com to learn more about all of the educational opportunities and how to easily activate your membership. If you have any questions, any questions at all, please reach out, let me know. I'm always happy to spend time with you. And to help you in any way that I can. I also want to remind you to check out the jazz piano skills blog I'm very excited about this new dimension to jazz piano skills. Whether you are a jazz piano skills member or not, you can enjoy reading some additional insights regarding the jazz piano Skill of the Week, you will find the blog link in the menu bar running across the top of the page at jazz piano skills podcast calm or you can just simply scroll to the bottom of the page. And you'll see an entire blog section. I take some time at the end of each week to jot down my final thoughts about the jazz piano skill that we just explored in the weekly podcast lesson. And hopefully provide you with some words of encouragement, encouragement, and inspiration as well. So be sure to check out the blog and let me know what you think. As always, Your feedback is most welcome and is always very much appreciated. Okay, let's discover learning play piano let's discover, learn and play some rhythmic vocabulary. I started last week's episode by asking a very simple question. Question was this? Why is it so difficult to improvise? Why does everyone when starting out or
even after years of study, find it challenging to improvise musical ideas that sound like jazz. On the surface, once you understand some fundamental constructs of jazz and how it works, it's actually quite simple. You have a chord, you have a scale that goes along with that chord. And if you play any of the notes from that scale, in any order, over the top of that chord, you create a melody. Right? Pretty simple concept. For example, if I play a C minor, seventh chord, C, E flat, G and B flat, I play that chord in my left hand. And I play a C minor scale, C, D, E flat, F, G, A and B flat. In my right hand, I have established a harmony melody combination. So far, so good. Now, with this proper harmony melody combination, I should be able to create, to improvise, right? Well, theoretically, yes. But as I am sure many of you listening have experienced, just because you have the correct tools, it doesn't mean you know how to use them. And it's this knowing how to use CT scan relationships, which is actually the key to being able to successfully improvise. I mentioned last week that all of us jazz teachers love, we love to provide you with the tools. We love to teach you chord scale relationships, however, we tend to stop there, and indirectly, or even sometimes directly communicate to you, the student, that it's up to you to figure out how to use the tools. This is unfortunate for a couple of reasons. Number one, it leaves you the student stranded out there in the jazz world on your own, armed with nothing but chord scale relationships. It's a situation that ultimately leads to a surrender of giving up, which honestly, is tragic. It's not good for you, the student. And you know what, it's not good for jazz either. This music, this art form that we love, needs more and more participants, active players, and not just listeners to keep it alive. In number two, it's sad because it's just really, really bad teaching. So if you listen to my podcast last week, you discovered the missing link. When it comes to developing successful improvisational skills that missing link rhythmic vocabulary you discovered last week, you discovered that harmony and melody chord scale relationships. Without rhythm is simply musical data that produces nothing musical. I want to share with you a quick story that illustrates this point that supports my rhythmic Proclamation. In fact, my latest blog post presents the story as well. I recently was working with a student who is studying with me to learn how to improvise. And so during our lesson, we set out to do just that to do a little improvisation. So we had John Coltrane's Mr. PC, it really is a simple minor blues progression. We're going to use that that song that format to do some improvisation exploration. So the idea was simply this we're going to use a play-along track background track. And we were going to trade solos every course right? I was gonna Solo for 12 measures 12 bars, and then he's going to solo for 12 measures 12 bars. And we just took turns
improvising trading courses. So here we go, right, we start, I start to play along track, we play the head of Mr. PC, the melody, and I take the first solo. Now it's his turn to play solo. And about halfway through the form, I noticed that he wasn't playing. There was no solo. So I stopped the play-along. And I looked at him and I said, Everything okay, what, what's up? He looked at me and he said, You know what, man? I have nothing. I said nothing. I got nothing. I said, Oh, okay, well, then you know what? Let's make. Let's make this a little simpler. Let's cut the blues scale, the blues pattern, which is consists of six notes. Let's, let's cut it in half. Let's use only the first four notes of the blue scale. Now. That's not exactly in half. But you get my point, right, we reduced the number of notes that we were going to utilize in our improvisation. So we cut the blue scale in half. And here we go. And he was elated. I think Okay, let's do that. So I started the player play along again, we play through the head of Mr. PC great tune. I take the first solo. Now it's time for him to solo. We get about halfway through the course. And guess what? I hear nothing. There's no solo. I reach up I stop the play along I look at him. I go. Everything okay, what's what's going on? He said You know what, I got nothing. I said you have nothing. Nothing. I said, Well, you realize you can play any of those notes, right? Any of those four notes are going to work beautifully over the entire form, you cannot go wrong, you cannot play a wrong note. So eliminate that fear from your thoughts. Because it's not possible. These all these notes, these four notes are golden. You can't make a mistake. He said I get it, but I get it. But I still I have nothing. I said you know what? Okay, so let's do this. Let's cut the half that we cut. Right, let's cut the half that we just cut in half. And let's cut in half again. Right? So instead of four notes, let's do let's use two notes. We're going to use just the root and the third of the blue scale. He said, Oh, that's great. That's fantastic. So let's play Mr. PC. Let's improvise. We're going to trade courses. I'll take the first solo using two notes, the root and a third. Then you take a course using two notes, the root and a third. We'll we'll do that for a while. Have some fun. Fantastic. He was fired up us. Great. Let's do it. I start to play along. play through the head of Mr. PC. I take the first solo time for him to take a solo. Guess what I hear? I hear nothing. I reach up again. I stopped the play-along. I go, dude. What's going on? Man? We got two notes here. He said I got nothing. I said you got nothing. I got nothing. I said okay. I said you know what? Let's cut the half that we cut in half. Let's cut that now. Let's go down to one note, one note. And solo with that one note. He goes one note, I said one note. We're going to use the route. We can't go wrong. We're just going to use that route. We're going to play some melodic ideas. Using that one note. We're going to improvise using that one notes. Let's do it. He goes fantastic. So here we go. fire up the play along. Play the head. I take the first course his turn. You got it. Silence. I reach up I stopped the play long. Before I could say a word before I could say anything. He says sorry, man. I got nothing. So what's the point of the story? What did we discover? through that whole interchange? What we discovered was that it's not melody that's hanging him up. It's not. It's not improvisation that I you know the concept or the idea of improvising. It's not knowing what notes to play. It's not not knowing the chords, right? We had all that data we all I had all that information.
So what was the hang up? The hang up was rhythm, a lack of rhythmic vocabulary. So you see melody, and harmony chords, get relationships, get all the attention, all the love, but in reality, it's rhythm. That is the all important hinge pin that all of music hangs on. If rhythm could speak, it would say to melody and harmony. I know y'all get all the attention, all the glory, all the love. But you both know, you both know that without me. You're nothing you need me. Today, we are going to do just that we are going to continue giving rhythm, some love and attention, the loving and attention that it rightfully deserves. So the agenda for today is as follows number one, I am going to present 12 rhythmic vocabulary patterns for you to study and practice to develop your sense of time, proper jazz articulation, and improve your improvisational skills by improving your rhythmic vocabulary. These are the same 12 patterns that we used last week as well. Number two, I will be playing each of these 12 rhythmic vocabulary patterns using once again, the C minor C minor Dorian mode. And number three, I will be playing each rhythmic vocabulary pattern using a C minor arpeggio from the root to the seventh of the sound, ascending and descending. Last week we dealt with the scale. This week we deal with the arpeggio, what are the two types of melodic motion that we have in music, scale and arpeggio. So this week, it's the arpeggio number four. And as I did last week, I added little added bone a little bonus right I will be using the two-handed contemporary minor voicings that I presented in the June 29 podcast episode two create harmonic fills harmonic melodic fields in between each mo rhythmic vocabulary pattern. And number five, I will be playing all demonstrations all the rhythmic vocabulary patterns today, I will be playing them using any tempo of 140. And as always, you know what's coming in, I always recommend using slower tempos whenever you begin to learn any jazz piano skill, slower tempo 6575 85 Nice and slow, right. So if you are a jazz piano skills member take a few minutes right now to download and print the illustrations and the lead sheets or podcast packets. You have access to the podcast packets. And of course you should be you should be absolutely using them when listening to the podcast then of course, absolutely using them when practicing. If you're listening to this podcast on any of the popular podcast directories such as Apple or Google, Amazon, Spotify, iHeartRadio, Pandora on and on and on, then be sure to go to jazz piano skills podcast.com go to that website. To download the podcast packets, you will find the links the download links in the show notes. One final, but extremely important note. If you're thinking that the rhythmic vocabulary patterns that we are about to discover, learn and play are in some way. Or even if they are all the way over your head, then I would say to you So what, okay, big deal. Continue to listen. continue to grow your jazz piano skills intellectually by listening to this podcast episode this lesson. Because the fact is this all skills are over our heads when first introduced. And that is precisely why the very first step in learning any jazz piano skill, the very first step to improve our musicianship is listening. Our musical growth begins upstairs mentally, conceptually, before it can come out downstairs physically in our hands. So listen, listen to this podcast lesson now to discover and learn. I promise the play will come Time.
Okay, so the very first rhythm that we are going to tackle today, three quarter notes followed by a pair of eighth notes on count four. So we're going to play our C minor seventh arpeggio, we're going to play it first three quarter notes on the root, third and fifth. Followed by 2/8 notes on the seventh and the fifth. And then two quarter notes on the third. ascending, descending, right, so sounds like this. Nice. Now you're also going to find out that, I'm going to start on the root and instead of going ascending, descending, I like to start on the root and go descending, ascending. So using the same pattern, it sounds like this. Return to the root, right, so I'm always starting on the root, I'm returning to the root, I'm using that rhythmic pattern of three quarter notes followed by a pair of eighth notes. And I want to place it as always within a musical context, so I can develop time I feel my articulation, I can get used to play in this rhythmic idea ascending and descending, using arpeggio motion, ascending, descending, and also descending, ascending both ways, right? So let's bring the ensemble and let's let's experiment with this rhythmic pattern using arpeggio motion from the root to the seventh. Okay, so here we go. Let's check it out.
Nice, right. So now you can see if you're looking there at your lead sheets, you can see that we are indeed using the exact same rhythmic patterns from last week, seven notes and our rhythmic pattern that we use of the seven notes of the scale, the C minor Dorian scale, but this week, we're taking those same exact seven notes, that seven note rhythmic pattern, and we're stretching it over an arpeggio and ascending, descending, or descending, ascending arpeggio. So if you look there now at a look at pattern, letter B, you see that we are now shifting our eighth notes to count three instead of count four. So now my arpeggios are going to sound like this ascending, descending and D sending us and He will sound like this. Now, as we go throughout the podcast today, and we go through each one of these patterns, do not make the mistake of thinking that these patterns are way too simple. Their quarter eighth note patterns which make which is predominantly jazz. And to play these patterns with the proper feel the proper articulation in time, right? Don't Don't make the mistake of thinking that this is way too easy. It's quite honest. Honestly, it's not. So let's bring the ensemble in. Let's check out pattern B, right eighth notes placed on count three ascending and descending arpeggio motion followed by descending ascending arpeggio motion. Here we go. Let's check it out.
Pretty cool, and again, I'm just want to stress again when you're playing these patterns is not just nailing the rhythm. Yes, that's important. But also play on playing with good fingerings good articulation. Good feel good time, right? You want to sound like you should be practicing these patterns as an improvisational motif as an improvisational idea, you should be assessing can continually assessing whether or not you sound like a jazz pianist when playing these patterns. So let's go on to pattern See, look there on your lead sheets. And you'll see now that the eighth notes shift from count three, the eighth notes shift to count two. So sending descending arpeggio motion is going to sound like this. No, that's not right. It's this santoy just too simple, right, so the eighth notes are on count two. Now, descending, ascending again. Fabulous. So let's make this swing. Let's bring our ensemble and let's drop it into a musical context into a musical setting. And check it out. And let's see what we think. Here we go.
All right, so we've placed the eighth notes on count four. we've shifted the eighth notes to count three. We then move the eighth notes account too. So you got it right. We shifted one more slot we move the eighth notes to count one. So ascending descending arpeggio sounds like this. And descending ascending.
Just like that. do not need to get any fancier than that than that. So let's bring the ensemble back in. Let's listen to our eighth notes placed on count one. And let's see what we think. Here we go.
You know those four patterns the first four patterns ABC and D, I absolutely believe you should give great attention to those four patterns being able to play those four patterns. Of course, over all of the five primary sounds scales for major dominant minor, half diminished and diminished. Start there, that's a good chunk to begin with, of course, you want to be able to play all 12 of these patterns over all of your major dominant minor half diminished and diminished scales. But if you had to just yank out four, if you had to yank out for those four right there where you have to play quarter notes, followed by eighth notes placed on the various beats of the measure on count four beats, 432, and one golden. So if you had to start anywhere, and you wanted to whittle down the 12 patterns to four, start with those four. Okay, so let's move on to pattern E. And as you can see there, we now have two pair of eighth notes, we have a pair of eighth notes on count three, we have a pair of eighth notes on count four. So now our ascending and descending arpeggio sounds like this. Again, nice, are descending, ascending arpeggio from the root sounds like this. Again,
okay, so bring the ensemble when Let's listen to this in a musical context. Again, we want to focus on time feel articulation, we want to sound like a jazz pianist, I want to treat this like an improvisational idea which it is. So here we go. Let's check it out.
So I bet you can guess what comes next right? With our very next pattern pattern f we're going to take those eighth notes that were on counts three and four, and we're going to shift them over to counts two, and three. So we start with a quarter note followed by eighth notes on Count 2/8 notes on count three, followed by a quarter note on count four. So here's what it sounds like. Again, nice and decent is going to sound like this. descending ascending that is very nice. So let's bring the ensemble in. Let's check it out and see what we think. Here we go.
Nice. So now we're going to shift our eighth notes to the first half the measure two counts one and two. So we're gonna have eighth notes on counts one and two, followed by quarter notes on three and four. So our ascending and descending arpeggio will sound like this. Nice, descending ascending arpeggio will sound like this. Very cool. Sounds like jazz to me. So let's drop it into a musical context. Let's bring the ensemble and let's check this out and see what we think. Here we go.
Very nice. So now we want to take our eighth notes, right, we want to take our eighth note, eighth note pairs and we want to split them up. So we're going to place eighth notes. On count two, we're gonna place eighth notes on count four, right in between our quarter notes. So our ascending and descending pattern is going to sound like this. Very nice. Add our descending ascending arpeggio will sound like this. Again, these lines are ready. It's jazz, right quarter eighth note combinations. You make quarter eighth notes swaying, you're going to sound like a jazz pianist. That's the bottom line. So let's bring our ensemble back in. Let's drop this hip little pattern into musical context and see what we think Here we go.
What did I tell you? swinging quarter notes and swinging eighth notes, alternating quarter note eight notes cannot go wrong. Create jazz rhythmic vocabulary. So now let's let's place our eighth notes on counts. one and three are eighth note pairs right on counts one and three. So our ascending and descending arpeggio sound like this. Very nice, descending ascending. Sounds like this. Very cool. So let's hear how this sounds right. I know it's gonna it's gonna sound like jazz. We have alternating eighth notes and quarter notes. Can't go wrong. Let's make them swing. Let's play with a good feel. Let's play with a good articulation. Let's treat it like an improvisational motif and see what we think. Here we go.
Okay, so, we started off with a pair of eighth notes that we just shifted from beats four, from count four, beat four to count three to count two to count one. Then we brought in a pair of eighth notes, we placed them on counts three and four, counts two and three, then on counts one and two. Then we split up those eighth notes, we placed them on counts two and four. Then we placed them on counts one and three. Right, very, very systematic, very organized, very structured, very formulaic. A precise way in which you want to practice right. So now we're going to add a nother pair of eighth notes. So we're going to begin by placing eighth notes, a pair of eighth notes on count to count three and count four. So our ascending and descending arpeggio sounds like this. Wow, jazz vocabulary, no doubt, again. Art descending, ascending arpeggio motion sounds like this.
Wow. Sounds like it's coming right out of a bud powerful. So here we go. Let's bring the ensemble back in. Let's check it out and see what we think. Here we go.
Very nice. So you already know what's coming, right? If we place the eighth notes, a pair of eighth notes on two, three and four. Now let's shift them over. And let's place those eighth notes on counts. One, two, and three. So our ascending and descending arpeggio motions going to sound like this. Again, can't get much more jazz than that. Wow, again. Now our descending ascending arpeggio emotional sound like this. Again, very nice. Can't wait to hear this. Let's bring the ensemble back in. Let's drop this rhythmic vocabulary pattern into a musical context, the musical setting. Let's see what we think. Here we go. Check it out.
Wow, what I say right when I tell you you cannot get a more sounding jazz line than ascending descending arpeggio motion, right? You just can't. Sounds fantastic. So one more rhythmic vocabulary pattern to do and that's we're just gonna place eighth notes on all four counts, right the entire measure. So I'm going to end up repeating the top note and the bottom note, right? These are ascending descending arpeggios. So it's going to end up sounding like this. Again, the sending us sending sounds like this. Nice.
Wow. Okay. Well, let's bring the ensemble and let's drop this into a musical setting context. Let's make it swing. Let's play with great feel articulation, and great sense of time, nice and relaxed. So let's check it out. Let's see what we think. Here we go.
What can I say? Right? This has been a fantastic hour, an exciting hour exploring rhythmic vocabulary using ascending descending, descending ascending arpeggio motion. You know, I mentioned this last week that I've been teaching jazz piano on improvisation for 35 plus years, and I never, ever, ever get tired of talking about rhythm. And I guess the reason is because rhythm has again, as I mentioned earlier, and last week, rhythm is the big dog in music. I mean, I get all the attention. It may not get all the love, but it is definitely the big dog. And ironically, it is without question. As I mentioned earlier, the most neglected aspect of music when it comes to teaching. As I mentioned, we love to teach and we love to learn about melody and harmony. It's fantastic, right? But rarely do we spend time with rhythm. And this is sad because as a result, we end up producing a lot of wandering, aspiring musicians who end up frustrated because they're playing. They're playing just sounds like that, like they're wandering. They're playing correct notes. They're playing correct chords, but they have no rhythmic definition to their plane. Right? They're void of rhythmic definition which, which leaves them scratching their heads as to why. Why does my improvisation not sound like jazz? Focus on rhythm? Now, do not blow past these jazz panels skills podcast episodes, last week's episode or this week's do not take it lightly. I know we're just dealing with various eighth note quarter note combinations right? Don't think that don't make the mistake of thinking it's too easy for you. Your ability to play various rhythms using various quarter note eighth note combinations is crucial. If you do not get comfy playing quarter note, eighth note Read the rhythmic combinations in time with a proper jazz articulation and feel. You will never ever I promise you will never ever develop into an accomplished jazz pianist. So play the 12 patterns that I presented to you today and last week, using scale and arpeggio motion ascending and descending scale and arpeggio motion. Practice these patterns over all 12 major dominant minor, half diminished and diminished scales. If you do, I promise you, you will love how your plane will radically improve your jazz sound will skyrocket. I promise. So as you have probably surmised, with the name of this podcast rhythm vocabulary, rhythmic vocabulary to last week rhythmic vocabulary, one that there are more rhythm studies to come in Indeed, there are there is much to discover learning play when it comes to rhythmic vocabulary. And I can just I can proudly say we're just getting started you ain't seen nothing yet. It's gonna we're gonna have a lot of fun between now and the end of the year, I promise. Well, I hope you have found this jazz panel skills podcast the lesson exploring standard rhythmic vocabulary to be insightful and of course to be beneficial. Don't forget if you're a jazz piano skills member I will see you online Thursday evening at the jazz piano skills masterclass 8pm Central time to discuss this podcast episode lesson exploring the harmonization of the half diminished scale in greater detail and to answer any questions that you may have about the study of jazz in general. Again, as a jazz panel skills member, be sure to use the educational podcast packets, the illustrations, the lead sheets, the play alongs not only for this podcast lesson, but for all of my podcast lessons. And also be likewise be sure to use the jazz panel skills courses to maximize your musical growth. And finally, make sure that you are an active participant in the jazz piano skills community get involved. Make some new jazz piano skills friends, it's always a great thing to do. contribute to the various forums you'll love it. And as always, you can reach me by phone 972-380-8050 extension 211 by email Dr. Lawrence Dr. Lawrence at jazz piano skills calm or by speakpipe found throughout the jazz piano skills website. Well, there is my cue. That's it for now. And until next week, enjoy the standard rhythmic vocabulary
patterns. Enjoy the journey. And most of all, have fun as you discover, learn and play jazz piano