Puzzles, Rhymes, and Riddles

Solutions to Odd Time Phrasing – insights and concepts to learn to hear and play odd time patterns and groupings.

Puzzles, Rhymes, and Riddles, by Bruce Becker, was written to give some insights and concepts to learn to hear and play odd time patterns and groupings.

From Bruce:

“I have had the good fortune to work with some eccentric composers who have challenged my understanding and ability to play odd time music.

“It is through these experiences that I was able to draw upon and give a transparent presentation that hopefully you will find easy to digest. Remember that odd time music is all about stress points. Odd time groupings are generally combinations of 2’s and 3‘s. I have broken the book into three sections.

“The first section dealing with 16th note groupings to add a Funky syncopated feel. This section will have individual patterns in different time signatures with different sticking arrangements and then taking these patterns to makes some possible combinations. For example a pattern in 2/4 (8/16) with a pattern in 3/16 we can combine to make an 11/16 pattern. I have also included some ideas to set up some easy fills to follow the already established stickings with the patterns and to re-voice them to make for an easy drum fill, until such time that you will be able to stretch out.

“The second section will deal with some jazz patterns starting in 4/4 then adding some specific melody moves, continuing to 3/4 and finally 5/4. The moves will act as a support to develop your inner GPS, by adding some contrasting melodies to the time signatures you can’t help but develop the ability to track where you are at. My feeling is that if you have these time signatures well rooted in your playing you will have the necessary pieces to make several combinations.

“The final section will have exercises to play time in number systems against one another. We can view this as time signature against time signature or odd rhythm against odd rhythm. For example: start with playing 3 against 4, 5 against 4, 7 against 4 and then adding 3 against 5, 3 against 7, or 5 against 7, continuing to add to the “madness.” These are specifically designed to help the ear identify these number groupings and eventually recognize these with a sense of ease.”