On Rhythm


It’s one of the interesting things that playing rhythms musically often means playing notes as we want them to sound rather than according to how they’re written. Because how we articulate rhythm, how we measure out the passage of time when we’re playing–those are expressive aspects we musicians draw upon. So notation is a convenience and it’s a tool. But in the end it’s an approximation at best and it’s not law.


In jazz one of the essential components is getting the “right” rhythmic feel. To get the “right” feel we need the right way to practice. Drumgenius, an app for anyone who’s curious about exploring music through the “groove” of jazz,” is perfect for that. It comes out of the box–the box of Apple or Android online stores–with several hundred drum beats for most of the imaginable styles an aspiring improviser might want to practice.

The conclusion of Drumgenius

The bottom line of using Drumgenius is simply: Play along with it, establish a feel and then playing into the feel, the “groove” so to speak. Does it need to be said?–Every musical style and genre has it’s own groove. To get to interesting hybridity play Bach along with a drumbeat from the world of Oscar Peterson.

Benjamin Zander

An amazing student sent me a link to a fascinating TED video from Benjamin Zander who has credentials as musician, a business management consultant, and an author.

Among BZ’s explanations are two in particular that are well put and entertaining: how young pianists acquire a sense of rhythm that begins at the level of the beat but over time transforms to the level of the phrase and how C–the pitch–causes B–the pitch–to be sad. The big idea that comes out of the video is BZ’s enthusiasm for classical repertoire–it’s contagious.