Jazz Improvisation - Study Guides
Learning Rhythmic Subdivisions
This short lesson is all about learning how to subdivide specific rhythms against a single beat (in this case a quarter note)
In the practice sheet shown below, I have illustrated a variety of different rhythmic subdivisions ranging from 8th notes through to 32nd notes all played against a single quarter note pulse.
Working with a rhythmic exercise like this can really help you become more familiar with different subdivisions and how they sound against a beat. It’s especially useful if you haven’t played groupings in 5 and 7 before too.
Before you play any of the examples, listen several times to the accompanying Soundslice audio file above whilst you follow the music to hear how the various subdivisions sound.
Each rhythmic subdivision is played four times and the whole exercise is performed at 55 bpm. The first eight bars just use a single pitch to illustrate each rhythm and the following eight bars use a simple C major scale again playing the same rhythms.
Once you have a clear idea of how each subdivision should sound (you may have to listen to the audio several times for this) then try to play along with the recording.
If you are a pick-style player, I’d highly recommend using alternate picking for these exercises, so that you can just concentrate on the rhythms and not worry about picking technique.
Learning these different rhythmic subdivisions won’t make you a brilliant soloist overnight, but they will considerably increase your facility with rhythm. You may also find that your rhythmic vocabulary becomes a little more varied as well.
PDF download and Mp3 Audio
Here is a link to download the above the musical examples as a PDF file so that you can print it out for your practice sessions, or view at a higher magnification on your chosen screen type.
Take your time learning these rhythmic subdivisions, to ensure that you can play each and every one accurately. Over time, you will find that your rhythmic vocabulary will increase considerably by working on these exercises