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  1. #1

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    In my two-vocal one-guitar duo, I have to play short instrumental breaks that will keep the crowd and my vocalist partner interested, despite my simplistic level of jazz harmonic sophistication (I'm working on it). This means playing chord solos, sometimes uptempo.

    Even when I can't come up with intellectual harmonies, when I solo I try to vary my chord inversions with an unusual, funky or driving rhythm pattern - or play a stop-time passage - always in time - the goal being a solo segment that will entertain. Triplets - a reggae rhythm - half-time - whatever odd rhythm variation I can come up with.

    When I see solo jazz guitarists on YouTube, I feel that I hear either 1) too much harmonic information, or 2) too rubato a time feel. Honestly, I believe that a rhythm-first approach gives me an advantage over some of these guys, in the sense of providing music that an audience will buy (in all senses of the word).

    I haven't seen much discussion of rhythmic variation in the jazz guitar literature I have perused. Thanks for any comments.

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  3. #2

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    Well, without hearing you I cant say much. Sounds good in text...wondering a bit about reggae over swing, but...

    There's a time and place for rubato, too. Too much of any one thing gets to be tiresome.

  4. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by Thoughtfree
    In my two-vocal one-guitar duo, I have to play short instrumental breaks that will keep the crowd and my vocalist partner interested, despite my simplistic level of jazz harmonic sophistication (I'm working on it). This means playing chord solos, sometimes uptempo.

    Even when I can't come up with intellectual harmonies, when I solo I try to vary my chord inversions with an unusual, funky or driving rhythm pattern - or play a stop-time passage - always in time - the goal being a solo segment that will entertain. Triplets - a reggae rhythm - half-time - whatever odd rhythm variation I can come up with.

    When I see solo jazz guitarists on YouTube, I feel that I hear either 1) too much harmonic information, or 2) too rubato a time feel. Honestly, I believe that a rhythm-first approach gives me an advantage over some of these guys, in the sense of providing music that an audience will buy (in all senses of the word).

    I haven't seen much discussion of rhythmic variation in the jazz guitar literature I have perused. Thanks for any comments.
    Personally, I prefer chord melody played in time to arrangements where the time is not strictly adhered to.

    As far as discussion of rhythmic variation, you might find more in the literature for other instruments, especially percussion. One place to look for rhythmic ideas might be youtube drum solos on the tune. I've never tried it, but when comping I listen to the drummer for ideas.

  5. #4

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    I often don’t care for rubato by solo guitarists if they stop time here and there to throw in a fancy arpeggio or if it seems to only serve the purpose of making more time to get fingers in the right place. But I like rubato if it seems expressive, as a vocalist would do to bring something out in the melody or lyric. I find it difficult to play rubato in that way, so I usually try to stay in time. Now that I’ve said that, I realize that I should spend some time working on playing rubato the way I’d like to hear it.

  6. #5

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    It seems that rhythm can convey not only feeling, but what you're feeling. By that I mean it's one of the most expressive tools and you're right Thoughtfree, it's a really great way to pique interest for the listener; lots of listeners who don't care about impressive jazziness can relate to the expression conveyed in a good rhythmic solo. Rhythm conveys confidence in what you play.
    Yeah KirkP I really relate to what you're saying. "Rubato" has become a stylized excuse for "Gee, what should I play here?" or "Dang, not a position shift...I can always rubato-ize it" or "No way I'm going to venture from my CAGED chord grid phrase, this chord is SO cool, and it's rubato! Here's a lick to make it really impressive". Guitarists are cursed with an instrument that's not easy to play and the sound of struggle shows itself as bad rhythmic phrasing. If you can't play it, it's just jazz!
    You know, classical players spend a LOT of time polishing the seams of their phrases until they're smooth. It seems that a lot of jazz guitarists don't think so much about that. Good rhythmic phrasing comes from listening. It also makes a duo breathe.
    I'd like to hear some of your duo.

    David

  7. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by TruthHertz
    It seems that rhythm can convey not only feeling, but what you're feeling. By that I mean it's one of the most expressive tools and you're right Thoughtfree, it's a really great way to pique interest for the listener; lots of listeners who don't care about impressive jazziness can relate to the expression conveyed in a good rhythmic solo. Rhythm conveys confidence in what you play.
    Yeah KirkP I really relate to what you're saying. "Rubato" has become a stylized excuse for "Gee, what should I play here?" or "Dang, not a position shift...I can always rubato-ize it" or "No way I'm going to venture from my CAGED chord grid phrase, this chord is SO cool, and it's rubato! Here's a lick to make it really impressive". Guitarists are cursed with an instrument that's not easy to play and the sound of struggle shows itself as bad rhythmic phrasing. If you can't play it, it's just jazz!
    You know, classical players spend a LOT of time polishing the seams of their phrases until they're smooth. It seems that a lot of jazz guitarists don't think so much about that. Good rhythmic phrasing comes from listening. It also makes a duo breathe.
    I'd like to hear some of your duo.

    David
    Good points. Classical players are very, very clever in their arrangements. I hear the same sort of thing in the playing of Brazilian guitarists. Typically they do not let the time fluctuate or stop to facilitate finger movement. Rather, somehow, they work it out. One Brazilian told me, "there's always a way".

  8. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by TruthHertz
    lots of listeners who don't care about impressive jazziness can relate to the expression conveyed in a good rhythmic solo.
    Very true. People who don't know music don't even know how to quantify this exactly. A church gig I have involves arranging not so interesting trad things in different ways. It's funny, but very often someone will remark about some crusty old tune, "that's a great SONG" or" that SONG has such a great beat". :-) When , really it doesn't, not at the song level anyway.

    Anyway, rhythm works for everyone. I don't think I could ever add enough HARMONIC our pure melodic interest into something to get a similar response from nonmusicians. Rhythm is primal. You get the rhythm right, and most people hear the whole thing as being much better.
    Last edited by matt.guitarteacher; 04-08-2019 at 03:30 PM.

  9. #8

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    I purchased Andy Brown’s solo guitar masterclass and he continually stresses how important good time and rhythm are when playing solo jazz guitar. He says playing too much rubato is guaranteed to put the audience to sleep, very fast.

  10. #9

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    Rubato is like an abstract artwork. Your portrait isn't "abstract" just because you screwed it up.

    Intent matters.

  11. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Thoughtfree

    When I see solo jazz guitarists on YouTube, I feel that I hear either 1) too much harmonic information, or 2) too rubato a time feel. Honestly, I believe that a rhythm-first approach gives me an advantage over some of these guys, in the sense of providing music that an audience will buy (in all senses of the word).

    I haven't seen much discussion of rhythmic variation in the jazz guitar literature I have perused. Thanks for any comments.
    You're right, and you're not alone. I feel the same way, and always work on improving the time feel and various strumming techniques more so than on expanding a harmonic vocabulary. In a way I feel like it's anti-jazz almost not to care much about lush harmonies and stuff, but that's how I approach music, and look for in music when I'm listening.

    Rubato is another story. Personally I don't have a place for it in my music, maybe only as a novelty gesture, but if I hear someone, especially in chord melody solo guitar genre use it too much- I stop listening. Sorry fella, you lost me. I don't care how beautiful your tone is, what gorgeous L5 you playing, or your fancy arpeggios- make me feel the rhythm, or I don't have time for it. Just me though, I understand most will disagree.

  12. #11

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    Earl Klugh does rubato just right for me. This is from the Naked Guitar album, which is on my desert island list. I feel his rubato is driven by the melody and lyrics, even though there is no vocal. I can imagine an interpretive dancer moving to it. If I could learn to play rubato in that way I’d use it a lot more.