Exploring Rhythm and Time in Fingerstyle Jazz Songs

by Sean McGowan

Contemporary jazz musicians add interest to well-worn standards by exploring rhythmic feels and time signatures that are different from the song’s original version (or the way it’s usually played among musicians). For example, you might add a bossa nova feel to a song that’s normally played as a ballad, or perhaps take a burning uptempo song and explore its harmonic nuances as a ballad. Jerome Kern’s “All the Things You Are” has been played just about every way imaginable! You could also convert a song into another time signature.

Example 12a_b: Fingerstyle Jazz Essentials
Click to enlarge.

The most common conversions tend to involve changing a 3/4 song into 4/4, and vice versa. Example 12a shows the 4/4 melody in Example 1, which is converted to 3/4 in Example 12b. Notice that the melodic pitches are all intact; we’ve adjusted therhythms to allow the melody to fit the new time signature.

Excerpted from Fingerstyle Jazz Guitar Essentials

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