Libor Hadrava: Time Traveling Phenomenon
Every time I have received a guitar track for any of my recording projects, I sit down behind my drums, come up with parts, and record them. Odd time signatures, metric modulations, and feel changes are always a big part of these projects but I rarely feel like spending any time programing the click track to follow all the changes. Even if I did, what if during the recording I wanted to swap parts or record something completely different? Then I would have to reprogram the click track and that means less drumming time. Not good. I decided I need a different approach, and that is when I came up with the idea of recording everything to the straight click track, disregarding all time signatures and tempo modulations. It was very hard at first, but in the long run it has made the whole process of recording way easier. I even have come up with some interesting rhythmic ideas because of it. That's what I'd like to share it with you today.
"But I don't play in odd time signatures and never will."
That's fine, but even if you will never come across odd time signature or any of the other craziness that's available, these exercises will give you a much better understanding of rhythm and time. They will strengthen your sense of time and will make you look at it from many different angles. That is something worth looking into, no matter what style you play or what your musical goals are.
Let's say the rest of the band is playing a 4-bar pattern that is in 4/4, but you will phrase it as if it was written in 7/8, 4/4, 7/8, 5/4 . You will all end up on the "ONE" but it might feel way better this way then if you just stuck to 4/4 feel but you wouldn't know unless you tried, right?
Great so let's travel in time against the click.
Set the metronome to quarter note between 80-100 bpm. Start by playing a very simple 4/4 groove followed by the same exact one minus the last eighth-note, creating a measure of 7/8. After you play the first bar of 7/8 you will start hearing the metronome on the upbeat. As you go through the groove it will go back on the downbeat but it won't be on the "ONE". "Why?" Every time you play through this pattern you take away an eighth-note against the time in 4/4 (straight click) After the second time e through your ONE will actually be the 4th quarter note of the straight click in 4/4. Four times through this pattern (4/4+7/8) will make you land on the 3rd quarter note, six times on the 2nd and eight times on the ONE. Hurray !!! It feels almost as if you were traveling backwards in time.
Now we will travel forward by creating a pattern with a 9/8 bar. Just like before when you play the first bar of 9/8 you will start hearing the metronome on the upbeat. Another round will make it go back on the downbeat but again it won't be on the "ONE". The first two times through this pattern will make you land on the 2nd quarter note of the 4/4, four times on the 3rd quarter note etc.
If you don't want to drift away from the 4/4 time too much you can always come back quickly To do that we will put Ex.1 and Ex.2 together creating (4/4+7/8+4/4+9/8) pattern. Just like in Ex.1 the first 7/8 bar will make the metronome appear on the upbeat and then the 9/8 will not only bring it back to the downbeat but also to the ONE. We travel backwards at first and then forward in time making up for all we lost to land on ONE.
Sixteenth Note Grid
Now we will experience exactly the same time-traveling phenomenon using sixteenth-note subdivisions..
Let's start with the same 4/4 groove followed by one short sixteenth-note. I purposely put three sixteenth-notes at the end to establish the sixteenth note grid and make it easier to hear. After the first time through the 15/16 measure the metronome will appear on the 2nd sixteenth note of your pattern. The second time through it will be on the upbeat, third time on the 3rd sixteenth note and finally after four times through you will be back on the downbeat. But like before you will not be on the "ONE". It takes four times to be an the 4th quarter note of the 4/4 time so it will take 16 times to land back on the "ONE". Wow!!!
In Ex. 5 we see the same exact thing but now we're moving the time forward by creating a measure of 17/16.
Now let's combine Ex.4 and Ex.5 to allow us to drift away from 4/4 time by a sixteenth note and then come back right the way. Shorten the groove by a sixteenth note and then make it longer by one note at the end of the measure.
You can also do the same exact thing by traveling in the opposite direction. Make the groove longer by a sixteenth note and then shorten it right away..
This might sound crazy, but what if we combined both the eighth- and sixteenth-note grid: [Ex5 + (2x Ex1) + Ex4]. [Ed. Note: This is crazy.] The first pattern will throw us off the click by a sixteenth note. Then the Ex. 1 patttern will keep us a sixteenth-note off but switching from "a" to "e," and finally the last pattern will bring us back to the downbeat. Let's do it.
Have fun, be creative, and most importantly, be musical.