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JMI Blog: Jazz Drumming in Odd Time

by Dave Sanders – Drum lecturer at JMI. In this blog series, Dave will look at various aspects of jazz drumming. This blog will focus on playing in odd time.

Not all music is in 4/4. It’s a good idea to spend some time practicing in time signatures other than 4/4. By doing so you feel more comfortable when you are asked to play in something other than 4/4.

The following examples expand on the ostinato concept discussed in previous blogs.

3/4 Jazz

Here are two common examples of a time pattern for jazz in ¾. We can use either as an ostinato.

or

For reading text/comping rhythms we can use the comping example 1 and 2 from The Art Of Bop Drumming  (Riley, J) and convert them to ¾.  It’s easy. Just deduct beat 4 from the bar. I suggest you start with one bar exercises.

Example:

Comping example 1,  exercise 1:

Becomes:

When combined with the time keeping ostinato here’s what the 1st two bars will sound like:

Including the bass drum in comping.

When we include the bass drum into the comping rhythms we can use either of the following two ostinatos.

or

Again, we use The Art Of Bop Drumming by John Riley. This time we use comping example 3 and 4 and convert them to ¾. I suggest you start with one bar exercises.

Example:

Comping Example 3, exercise 1:

Becomes:

And here’s what these two bars will sound like combined with the ostinato:

Note:

As a summary you can try “playing the page down”, no repeats. Try setting your metronome to beat 1 only.

5/4 Jazz

We can use the common 5/4 ostinato:

For reading text/comping rhythms we use the comping example 1 and 2 from The Art of Bop Drumming and convert them to 5/4. You now add beat 1 from the second bar of each example. I suggest you start with one bar exercises.

Comping example 1, exercise 1:

Becomes:

When combined with the ostinato here is what the 1st  bar will sound like:

Creative Practice

It’s important to “be your own teacher” and use these ideas to inspire your own variations on given exercises to help you develop into the player that you want to be. Experiment and have fun! These can be expanded to include triplets etc.

Dave Sanders is the drum lecturer at JMI.  To find out more about Dave, go to our Faculty Page. You can learn more about this and plenty more studying with Dave at JMI. Click here to find more information about JMI’s Bachelor of Music in Jazz Performance.

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