THE MUSICIAN’S GUIDE TO RHYTHM is for all musicians who want to explore the joy and passion of rhythm. To be a complete musician on any instrument, you need to master rhythm just as you do melody and harmony. This book unveils basic rhythmic ideas such as shape, suspension, orientation, pulse,wheels, and pyramid—the rhythmic building blocks of much of the world’s music. We’ll show you step-by-step how to master these, and how to use them creatively.
A PRACTICAL GUIDE: NOT JUST READING NOTES. Unlike most other training books in rhythm, MGR is not mainly about reading rhythmic notation, but about playing, feeling, using and understanding rhythm. We give you concepts you need in order to understand rhythm, and, after each chapter, an extensive set of exercises. You’ll start hearing the results right away, and seeing them in almost any style of music you play, whether it’s rock, jazz, Sousa marches, country, polka, West African highlife, or the music of the Western classical tradition.
MELODY AND MELODIC INSTRUMENTS. There is a lot in this book about melody as well as rhythm. That’s because melodies are pitches in time. They’re 50% rhythm. Several chapters in the book deal primarily with melodic applications: accompanying and arranging songs, composing, and improvisation.
A WIDE RANGE OF MUSICAL STYLES, FROM THE U.S. AND AROUND THE WORLD. MGR’s two authors have worked professionally in jazz, rock, funk, gospel, Broadway and Las Vegas shows, choruses and choirs; in popular music from five continents including reggae, salsa, samba, cajun, afrobeat, mbaqanga, French-Israeli and Indian wedding bands, Mexican son and ranchera; with traditional ensembles from Ghana, Cuba, Brazil, Martinique, the Balkans, and the Middle East. We have both lived extensively overseas, and have worked with immigrant musicians in the United States. While we can’t pretend to cover everything, what we can do is give you powerful concepts for approaching just about any style you’re likely to meet.
A LOGICAL APPROACH. MGR begins with fundamental concepts such as beats, subdivisions and accurate note placement, using your voice, hands, feet and instrument (chapters 1-3). In chapters 4-7 we introduce two of the most powerful concepts you need to understand rhythm: suspension and shape. These concepts are present in much of the music you’re likely to encounter as a working musician, and are more exact than the usual term syncopation.
Chapters 8-14 develop creative applications of the basics. Chapters 8 and 9 introduce polyrhythm, and chapter 10 presents wheels—changing perspective by beginning rhythms in new places. Chapters 11-14 explore different ways of changing rhythmic feels: pyramid, or switching between different subdivisions; tempo, including ways to deal with very fast and very slow speeds; swing, rhythmic transposition and morphing, which are more subtle ways to alter feels.
The last third of MGR (chapters 15-22) applies these ideas to songs: accompaniment and arrangement, orchestration, composition, and three chapters on improvisation. The book concludes with a chapter on practicing—an art in itself.