Rhythm is an element of music which beginning improvisors often ignore in favor of harmonic concepts, but it is at least as important as harmonic understanding, if not more so. A solo with infectious rhythm which barely addresses chord changes can be more attractive than a meandering, harmonically complex solo, especially in styles like traditional jazz or rock. In the below videos, Christian explores some concepts which can help to rhythmically liberate improvisors of all levels.
Triplets are a common point of weakness in players coming from the Western classical tradition, because they are a superficial and ‘synthetic’ concept in that tradition. In music coming from African traditions, triplets are often the lifeblood of the pulse due to the prevalence of ‘compound’ meters (6/8, 9/8, 12/8 in classical speak).
0:51- Improvise using one scale using triplets
1:47- Chromatic scale using triplets
2:30- Consolidating elements while practicing
3:15- Triplets with other groupings of notes (other than 3)
4:15- Groove demonstration
6:20- More examples of grouping triplets in 3
7:00- Write out motives
7:24- Grouping triplets in 2 or 4
9:25- Rhythmic tension and resolution
Hemiola is the traditional classical term for any rhythmic passage which juxtaposes divisions of 2 and 3. In the context of jazz and improvised music, this often looks like a “quarter note triplet”, where 3 evenly spaced notes are played in the space of two quarter notes. Watch this concept demonstrated below, with some ideas on how to develop it.