Welcome back to our current series on motifs. Last week we talked about some of the different elements we can manipulate to develop a motif. This week, we’re going to look at how we can develop motif’s by changing up their rhythm. There’s a number of different ways we can change up the original motif’s rhythm. You can keep the same spacing and delay the motif by a determined quantity (i.e. delaying it by an eighth note, quarter note, etc) or by anticipating it by a determined quantity (i.e. pushing it by an eighth note, quarter note, etc). You can change the original motif’s rhythm by doubling it’s speed or slowing it down. You can also change the original motif by breaking it up and making it more syncopated (or less syncopated depending on the original motif). These are just a few of the ways we can manipulate the motif. Let’s look at a few examples:

Here’s our original motif…

Our first example below, we’re going to push or anticipate the original motif by an eighth note. However, in this example I’m still going to keep the original motif on beat 3 of each measure. To create some more interest in the line, I’m adding to the original motif in the third and fourth measure (but the motif is still present).

In our second example below, we’re going to delay the original motif by an eighth note. This time, we’re going to move the motif over by an eighth note each time it’s presented. To create more interest to the line again-I’m adding to the original motif in the fourth measure.

In our third example below, we’re going to break up the original motif by making it more syncopated. You’ll notice that in the second measure, we’re still using the original notes of the motif. However, we’ve inserted an eighth note rest in between each note to make it syncopated. It then is connected with another line that connects it back to another motif before we add in something different in the fourth measure.

All of the examples above are very short and brief to show what changes are being made to the original motif. The fun and challenging part we have as improvisers is taking the original motif and developing it using all of the rhythmic ideas listed above (as well as chaning the notes, contour, etc). For an exercise this week, take the original motif above and see what you can do rhythmically with it over a blues or jazz standard. Make your first couple of attemps simple changes to the motif over an entire chorus. After you get the hang of it-develop it more by varying the rhythm and adding more syncopation.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s tip on our Motifs series. If you’ve found this helpful, share it with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ or any other site that you’re a contributor. I would love to have this blog (as well as my book) helping as many people as possible. Having you talk about it with your friends on other networks or sites really helps draw interest and allows all of us to dialogue and help each other out on our improvisation journey. I also enjoy all of the comments and feedback that you have…so keep them coming! If you haven’t checked out my book yet, you can click on the link to the right of this tip or by going to Jason Klobnak Music.




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