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Improv Tip Week #4-Rhythm Series…"Rhythmic Quoting"

Hey Everyone! Welcome to the last week of the rhythm series. This week, we’re going to talk about rhythmic quoting. Before we talk about rhythmic quoting, let’s talk briefly about what quoting is for those that may not know. Many of our favorite improvisers will often times “quote” melodies we’re familiar with inside of their solos. Those melodies fit within the chord changes of the moment, but may not necessarily be the song they’re playing. These melodies often come from cartoons, lullabys/children’s songs, classical music or other jazz standards. As long as it’s a recognizable melody…listeners will notice.

Now, let’s talk about this week’s topic…”rhythmic quoting.” We can take the same concept of melodic quoting and apply it to rhythms. The great thing about this tip is that there many sources of songs that have interesting rhythms (bebop heads, big band charts, Latin charts, Pop/R&B charts, etc). If we remove the melody and keep the rhythm, we can use that rhythm as a source for ideas in our improvisation. The listener may not be able to recognize the rhythm you’re playing, but it’s a great way to vary up the solo from running eigth note lines.

Below are a few examples. The first example is the rhythm to the first four bars of the jazz standard, Solar
Solar Rhythm Example
The next example is taking the first four bars of a blues and using the rhythmic example of Solar

Solar Example over Blues

Let’s take another recognizable jazz standard, Pent-Up House and use the same process. The first example is the rhythm from Pent-Up House that we’re going to use followed by the musical example.

Pent-Up House Rhythm Example
Pent-Up House Musical Example over II-V-I

I hope this week’s tip is helpful in giving you more rhythmic creativity in your improvisations! For more information on using these type of rhythmic ideas, be sure to check out Breaking the Monotony or look into one-on-one lessons through Skype!




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