After learning this technique, you should be able to take a song of your choice (or a combination of songs) and by simply copying the rhythm, create an original piece of music of your own. I know this sounds a bit like cheating, and TECHNICALLY it is, but if you read through the exercises and try it out, you’ll see that it’s a very good way of quickly and easily coming up with something you can use, and when you add different notes to an old rhythm, it genuinely does become original.
If you can HEAR a piece of music then you can WRITE a piece of music. This is one of my favourite techniques, and it’s SO easy to incorporate that you should have a lot of fun with this, even if you just experiment with it for a bit. Basically, this is what you do:
Isolating The Rhythm:
The first thing we need to do is isolate the rhythm you want to copy. Listen to any piece of music that you like, and decide on the rhythm section you want to copy.
The easiest way to copy it, is to either clap or tap it out, or use the “ta-fi-ti-fi” method I explained earlier.
Once you have isolated the rhythm, either write it down on your manuscript paper, or record it as a sequence of taps or claps, but with no melody or harmonic structure whatsoever. Here is an example:
This example, (below) is taken from the intro of Mozart’s “Eine Kleine Nachtmusic”. A VERY well know piece of music, but I BET that had you just listened to the tune that I created from it, without knowing what I was up to, you wouldn’t have been able to guess that I’d copied the rhythm. I’ve changed the individual notes and chords so much that it’s become totally unrecognisable as the previous tune. Here is the Mozart version:
And here is what I did with it. You’ll notice that the top line rhythm is EXACTLY the same, but the notes are completely different:
So if you look at the top line in the example above, it’s an identical rhythm to the Mozart piece. What I’ve done there is add some bass notes, (as a harmony, which we shall be working on later), change the key, and hey presto, we have a brand new piece of original music!
Just from that simple example, I’m sure you can see how easy that was to do, and also how effective it is.
Let’s look at another example. This is the intro section to the Red Hot Chilli Peppers song “Don’t Forget Me”. It’s an awesome song, yet the whole thing is built on a simple rhythm like so:
We shall be going through this song in greater detail later, but for now, I just want you to think of the rhythm.
Now I’m going to use exactly the same technique, but instead of creating some new chords or melody, I’m going to create a new bass line instead. Now that I’ve got the rhythm, I simply created a basic bass line using the same rhythmic structure, again just changing the notes I’m playing.
I could just as easily have used this rhythm for a bass line, a melody line, a chord progression, or a vocal line, lead breaks, pretty much anything you like.
One of the great things about this technique, is that it doesn’t have to be limited to just one rhythm from one piece of music either. Let’s say for example you heard a couple of pieces of music you liked, and thought the rhythm’s gelled well together.
You can by all means take the rhythm’s of several sections, from several songs, and incorporate them into yours, adding individual bars from as many songs as you like, until you have what you want. Practicing this technique will make you realise that it’s EASY to create rhythms to bass (like the pun?) your music on.
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