Tuesday 10th October

Beginning to explore rhythm!

The 5/4 track is here

and the 7/8 track is here

Ring of fire – mixed 4/4 3/4. Many Johnny Cash songs use very simple chord progressions, but when you count them out, they drop or add beats in weird places and that is part of what stops them feeling too simple.

Try listening through and counting along. It won’t take you long but it’ll start to dial in that new time signature and feel. See if you can notice how the pieces overall feel – and consider how the rhythm affects that.

Rhythm is a very good subtle way to work with tension and release. Moving from 7/8 to 4/4, as on the track of mine I played and as happens at the end of the first link above, tends to create a feeling of releasing tension.

It will feel odd to start with and you may struggle to sing over the top. Slow it right down until you can comfortably count the rhythm you have chosen to experiment with.

The other angle you can explore is remaining in 4/4 but accenting 8th or 16th notes in groups of three or five. You will need to work this out on paper – and using basic sequencers (you can get free drum sequencer apps for smartphone) is a way to hear the effect of this without needing to be able to play it.

Challenging yourselves to come up with a melody or riff in 7/8 or 15/16 is a very good way to become more creative. The track of mine I played began as an assignment at music college and ended up being a song that was played on BBC 6 music when it came out – so it’s worth persisting.

With these topics, don’t expect to have mastered them in one week. We could spend weeks getting right into depth with all kinds of rhythmic development – but even starting to broaden your thinking so that you have more awareness of it will raise the quality of your creative decision making.