Syncopation - freeing the right hand

Posted by: Jeffrey

Syncopation - freeing the right hand - 03/07/05 06:06 PM

Right now when I do a blues improv I "match" the rhythm of the right hand with the left hand. I can do triplets, 16ths etc. with the right hand, but only in synch with the left (i.e. three notes in the right hand, for one beat of the left).

Every time I try to syncopate the right hand to make it sound less mechanical - I lose the rhythm. Do I just need more practice to make the beat in the left hand more solid? How does one practice "separating" the rhythm and beat of the hands?
Posted by: schuyler

Re: Syncopation - freeing the right hand - 03/07/05 06:44 PM

id suggest practicing the left hand separate a good amount...usually with this stuff...one day it just clicks and you can play the right hand freely while keeping the left in perfect time...itll simply take time.
Posted by: gregjazz

Re: Syncopation - freeing the right hand - 03/07/05 09:07 PM

Yeah, practice the hands separate, and use a metronome always. \:\)
Posted by: apple*

Re: Syncopation - freeing the right hand - 03/07/05 09:20 PM

jeffrey... believe it or not I am exposed to alot of syncopation in Catholic church music... \:\)

You can definitely conquer it with lots of practice.... You have to have your body feel and direct the syncopation to really do it well.. try absorbing the rhythm thru dance...click it with a head wag and drift back.. and let your fingers follow..
Posted by: Jeff Bauer

Re: Syncopation - freeing the right hand - 03/08/05 12:32 AM

Tap a rhythm in your right hand, and tap a different rhythm in your left..

Practice this day in and day out (without annoying the **** out of the people around you).

Their are really two parts to this: Mental and physical. Taking note memory and finger position out of the mix frees your mind to concentrate on only the rhythm. Once you master doing this on a table, you really won't have to think much about it @ the piano.
Posted by: JazzManToo

Re: Syncopation - freeing the right hand - 03/08/05 07:46 AM

Angeleno Jazzer gives an excellent suggestion. And if you're serious about freeing up those hands during improvisation, you might consider looking at a Jazz drumming book that emphasizes independence. It will be filled with patterns to practice. Hand (and foot) independence is the name of the game for drummers. You can make up patterns yourself, just try to cover all possibilities.
Posted by: JazzManToo

Re: Syncopation - freeing the right hand - 03/08/05 08:04 AM

Forgot the important part: At some point you have to translate the hand independence to finger independence. And you can practice that on a tabletop (or on your leg) as well. Tap out various rhythm/fingering patterns. Separate patterns for each hand. When improvising at the piano, every time you try to play R.H./L.H. pattern that doesn't quite gel, there's a pattern to practice away from the piano.
Posted by: g#maj

Re: Syncopation - freeing the right hand - 03/08/05 11:23 AM

Hi, my first post here.

Syncopation is tough because we’re conditioned to following “the one.” It can be hard to deviate from it on purpose, and harder still to return to it smoothly.

I’m mainly a piano player, but when I learned bass, I read about a way to build a more fluid and controlled sense of time: Set a simple drum machine pattern (or a metronome) at around 90 or so bpm. (Use something slow enough to work with, but not so fast that you fool yourself that you’re doing OK.) Then, on the ‘and’ – precisely between each 1-2-3-4 beat -- play a note. Play these notes exactly in the middle of each beat, right on top of the ‘and.’ Play something simple and melodic, like maybe a one octave C scale. Mentally, hear the ‘and’ as you play each note.

Do this one handed only, while letting your ear internalize the machine or metronome’s time.

This was so tough for me initially that, when I learned it on bass, I had to use hammer-ons – fingering the note on the neck with enough force and speed to make the sound (the other hand didn’t pluck the string).

At first, I kept drifting back to playing notes right on top of the 1-2-3-4. But the exercise became easier, and gradually I learned to dance with the beat and play ahead or behind it with varying amounts of willful stretch and freedom. The skill transferred to piano easily, where of course the left hand took over initial timing duties and set boundaries for the right. Soon enough, though, the left started taking liberties and the right had to calm down. Piano is fun that way. Each hand has its own brain, as it were.

With good time, even the humble C scale can sound interesting. To make this exercise harder, set the bpm slower. Slower rates teach you to track the silence between the beats.

The whole experience taught me the power of rests and phrasing.
Posted by: Jeffrey

Re: Syncopation - freeing the right hand - 03/08/05 06:55 PM

Thanks for all the ideas. I tried g#'s off-beat idea today with the metronome - and I think it worked a bit. I kept going back in synch, but I kept at it and it started to sound better. Just one note in the right hand. Now I need to add more.

I will try the off-pattern hand drumming as well. I tried this a bit - but it almost hurts my brain and I get confused. I will need to practice this a lot.

Of course if I had apple's natural talent, I could just feel the rhythm ... but I think I will need to practice a lot with a metronome. \:\)

Thanks for all the ideas. I am trying all of them.