Exercise #3: The Melody with Swung Eighths and Alternating Sticking

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mp Bright Swing Intro

Blue Skies

Melody

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7

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B

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Step 1: This exercise is largely similar to the previous exercise except that here you will be playing swung eighth notes instead of straight, and you will be playing with jazz feet instead of bossa feet. Work on playing and feeling this melody quite fast, for example around 220 BPM, but with a light touch.

Guide R.H. and L.H.= The melody with swung eighth notes and alternating sticking R.F. and L.F.= Jazz feet

Drum set

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1. R 2. L L R

Example #1 (Measures 7-10)

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Step 2: Building off the original melody of the bridge, improvise a new bridge using swung eighth notes while keeping the jazz feet going. Try starting by using the original melody of the first, fifth, and eighth measures, and changing the melody in the measures in between. Just like in the previous exercise, try setting the same (or similar) melody notes of the original bridge to the new rhythms of your improvised bridge.

Guide (A Sections) R.H. and L.H.= The melody with swung eighth notes and alternating sticking R.F. and L.F.= Jazz feet Guide (Bridge) R.H. and L.H.= Improvise a new melody using swung eighth notes R.F. and L.F.= Jazz feet

Example #2

Drum set
5

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Original

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Improvised

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Original

Improvised

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Playing Tips This is a very sophisticated John Kirby arrangement of “Blue Skies” from 1938. Notice how Kirby uses hip variations in rhythm and dynamics to make this melody sound dramatically different in each A section while still maintaining the character of the melody. Papa Jo was also a master of this technique of altering the rhythms and dynamics of a theme while still maintaining its character. The advantage of this approach is that it gives your audience both a theme to hold on to so they feel grounded and also enough change and excitement that they don’t get bored. This technique is called “theme and variation” and is one of the most popular and useful techniques in jazz drumming. When you are improvising a new melody on the bridge try using theme and variation technique to create variety between the first four bar phrase and the second. For example you could play the first four bar phrase quietly and the second four bar phrase loudly. Be sure to practice this exercise with brushes and sticks, starting on both hands, and observing all dynamic markings.

Suggested Recording The John Kirby Sextet, “The Biggest Little Band in the Land”