Rhythmic Groupings

Hey Jazz Guy,

I feel like I’m a broken record – always playing the same rhythms and can’t seem to snap out of it, any suggestions?–Broken in Bedlam


Dear Broken,

One great way to spice up your rhythmic life and improve your technique at the same time is to study groupings of notes and displacement. When we practice rhythms such as 1/16th notes, we are tempted to play them in groups of two and four. However, they can be played in nearly infinite groupings. Playing in 1/16th notes in groups of three [Ex 1] becomes a little more interesting, as it displaces the beat and spills over the bar lines (F Lydian will be used for all examples). Groupings of five [Ex 2] displace the accents in the sequence. Playing a descending scale pattern in groups of three [Ex 3] and groups of five [Ex 4] highlights the effect. These examples must be played with a metronome or you will not hear the concept. We can also group 1/16th notes without having to attack them all. Dotted eighth notes reflect groupings of three 1/16th notes where only the first note is attacked [Ex 5]. Next we can combine groupings [Ex 6] to make the line more interesting. Freely mixing both the groupings and the attacks [Ex 7] can lead to complex and interesting rhythms. As a general rule, odd groupings of even subdivisions such as eights and 1/16ths displace well and even groupings of odd subdivisions like triplets [Ex 8] also displace well. There are many ways to experiment and extend these ideas, incorporating more mixed groupings and rests as well as groups of seven and nine. However you use them, you certainly will have left your broken record sound in dust. Jazz hard!

Download PDF Example Sheet Music and TAB

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Categories: Rhythm, Specifically Soloing, Uncategorized

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