Making Notes (Part 8)
Learn to make rhythms by using chords
'Rhythm' is the theme for my article this month written especially for musicians experiencing difficulty in playing and creating rhythmic accompaniments or keeping time with a rhythm unit.
'Rhythm' is a regular pulsating beat or steady throb in music, comparable to our own life-pulse beat.
Musical Timing, which was featured in one of my previous articles, dealt with note values, understanding Time Signatures and Beats of music. The next step after mastering Timing is to play to a rhythm, with or without the aid of an automatic rhythm unit or a live drummer.
Fortunate musicians possess a natural 'inbuilt' rhythm, almost like an internal metronome. For them, learning to play rhythmic accompaniments is an easy, almost automatic reaction to playing along with the Latin, waltz, quickstep, etc. features on a rhythm unit. Other musicians, not quite so fortunate, have to spend more time learning how to play to a rhythm, which can be achieved as I have known many very good 'rhythmic' musicians who do not physically feel the rhythms they can create.
The musical term 'Tempo' refers to the speed at which you choose to play a piece of music. How fast or slow you play often depends upon personal moods or the capability of the musician. Musical instructions on a manuscript such as — moderately — lively — slowly, are the suggested speeds at which the composer or arranger intends the music to be played. Personal interpretation of the 'Tempo' instructions can result in almost any music being played to any time.
Back to our theme this month: to start to create rhythmic Bass pedal and left hand Chord techniques, written as notation upon the Bass Stave and also including Chord Symbols.
The thirteen note pedal board on the Spinet Electronic Organ is now also a feature on some synthesisers. Most aspiring musicians of these instruments persevere with the unfamiliar left foot movement to play the Bass pedal notes which provide the deep rich Bass accompaniment to left hand Chords and melody notes.
If the bass section of the orchestra was missing, or the bass pedal notes of the electronic organ or synthesiser are not played, a musical score will sound incomplete. The automatic features to be found on most electronic organs and keyboard instruments provide not only the Bass pedal notes and left hand Chords, but piano or harp arpeggios and rhythmic instrumental accompaniments, simply by pressing one or more tabs and playing a single note on the manual.
When first starting to play the Bass pedals, the basic single pedal note will be the ROOT note of each left hand chord, and also the ROOT note of the Scale from which the left hand chord was formed.
The two notes of a ROOT and FIFTH pedal movement are the ROOT note, which you have already been playing and the FIFTH note duplicated from the left hand chord, or from the same Scale as the ROOT note was taken.
For music written with a 4/4 Time Signature, the ROOT and FIFTH pedal notes which will be played on the First and Third beats in each bar, will have the Time value of a MINIM. The left hand chords can initially be sustained for the Four Beats in each bar.
On the first illustration (Figure 1), the music is written in the key of G Major with an F# key signature. The G Major Chord in the first two bars is accompanied by the ROOT pedal note of G followed by the FIFTH note of D in each bar. The two notes of G and D are the ROOT and FIFTH notes of the G Major chord, or G Major Scale. When the left hand chord changes to D Seventh for the Third and Fourth bars of the illustration, the ROOT note of D followed by the FIFTH note of A in the D seventh chord or the D Major Scale are played as the pedal notes.
From the first basic movement in Figure 1, create a rhythmic Left Hand Chord accompaniment to a variation of the ROOT and FIFTH pedal technique, also known as PEDAL — CHORD — PEDAL — CHORD. In Figure 2, the music is again written in the key of G Major with a 4/4 Time Signature and identical left hand chords and Bass pedal notes. The ROOT and FIFTH pedal notes, again played on the First and Third Beats in each bar, are now played to the Time Value of a CROTCHET, with a REST on beats Two and Four in the bar. While the pedal note rests, the left hand chord is played creating an alternating movement between the pedal notes and left hand chords. A Play — Release — Play — Release action for the pedal notes and a Rest — Play — Rest — Play action for the chords for each bar will help you to maintain the correct timing of the music.
To develop a Waltz Rhythm technique, known as PEDAL — CHORD — CHORD accompaniment, the pedal note and left hand chords will each have the time value of a crotchet, with the music now written in 3/4 Time, in the Key of C Major (in Figure 3).
The pedal note, played on the first crotchet beat in the bar, is immediately released. The left hand chord rests on the first beat and is then played on the second beat and repeated on the third beat in each bar.
The ROOT and FIFTH pedal notes will be alternating between bars in this movement.
In Figure 3 the ROOT pedal note of C in the first bar is followed by the FIFTH pedal note of G in the second bar while the C Major left hand chords are played. The ROOT pedal note of G followed by the FIFTH note of D, from the G Seventh Chord, are played in bars three and four of the illustration.
A 'Latin' Rhythmic accompaniment to music written with a 4/4 Time Signature is shown in Figure 4. A counting of 1&2&3&4&, eight Quaver Beats in each bar, will help you to play this rhythm.
The key of the music is F Major. The pedal note of F played on the first beat, rests on the second crotchet beat in the bar, and is then separated on the third and fourth beats to fulfil the time value of four crotchet beats in the bar. Each pedal note is the ROOT note of the left hand chord it is being played with. Make a note of the timing pattern of the chords: Oom - pah - h - pah, oom-pah, oom - pah, for each Bar. While 'Oom' is representing the pedal notes, the 'pah' accounts for the Chords. The 'pah - h - h' above represents the first and only crotchet chord in the bar.
The accompaniment technique for playing to a 'Shuffle' or 'Western' rhythm is shown in Figure 5.
The counting for each Bar will be identical to the 'Latin' Rhythm. The pedal note, sounding on beats one and three will rest on beats two and four while the left hand chords are played. Again there is a variation in the chord note values. On the second beat in each bar the two quaver note chords are played quickly, one after the other. Try to achieve an 'Oom - pah pah, Oom - pah effect, of Pedal/Chord Chord, Pedal/Chord — in each Bar.
ROOT Bass pedal notes only accompany the left hand chords which can be sustained for the duration of a bar as illustrated in Figure 6 or repeated on the same beats as the pedal notes.
The first pedal note in each bar played to the time value of three quavers (or dotted crotchets) is followed by a quaver and crotchet pedal note before resting for the last crotchet beat in the bar.
Experiment with the various Bass pedal rhythms, without the rhythm unit initially, until familiar with their different patterns. Don't panic if the rhythm unit appears to run away from you, adjust the speed and try again.
As an alternative to the rhythmic Bass pedal techniques, a movement known as a 'Pedal Progression' can sound very effective. To 'embellish' or add to basic Bass stave notation, extra pedal notes can be slotted in between a single pedal note in two consecutive bars of the music so that the silence and spaces between the pedal notes will be 'filled in'. This must be another form of 'joining the dots'.
I must establish that any added notes used to 'fill in' are completely dependent upon the Key (or Scale) in which the music is written.
The first creation of a pedal 'fill in' will use the two final bars from a simple arrangement in the key of C Major. This contains the G seventh chord with a G pedal note in the first of the two bars, followed by the C major chord played with a C pedal note in the last bar. The 'fill in' notes are going to move down the pedal board from the G note to the C pedal note: G to F to E to D to C, while the timing of the music is maintained.
Playing in the key of C Major which represents the Scale of C Major, the G pedal note (fifth note of the C Major Scale) is followed by the fourth note (F), third note (E), and second note (D) of C Major before finally moving to the ROOT note of C in the last bar — a simple Pedal progression.
Now play the pedal progression for the last two bars for music written in the key of F Major. The last two chords, one for each bar, will be C seventh played with C pedal note, followed by the F Major Chord played with the F Pedal note. By playing the C Pedal note written in the music an octave higher on the pedal board, the left foot can again move in a downward progression from C to Bb to A to G to F between the two pedal notes of the music, in a steady movement from the fifth note of C to the ROOT note of F (from the F Major Scale).
This first simple pedal progression can now be used for any key of music, remembering that the 'fill in' notes are from the Key, or Scale of the music, music is written.
For the musician learning to play by Chord Symbols, instructions for playing an alternative pedal note to the ROOT note normally played with each left hand chord would be written as the chord name followed by the pedal note name after the oblique line, i.e. E/G, representing the E Major Chord played with the G pedal note.
Feature by Brenda Hayward
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