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February 10, 2009 1:12 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for some books on music (the playing thereof). One on developing rhythmic skills and then any good recomendations on the performance of classical music.

I'm practicing scales a lot lately and lately I'm trying to play 5 and 7 beats over 2 beats. I have no idea how to do this. Additionally, my rhythmic skills against a metronome are a little shaky. Is there a book on developing your rhythmic skills? Preferably it would be something that would be non-instrument and style specific, but that would give practical tips and exercises in developing a deeper knowledge of rhythm.

Also, I'm a fiddle player who's taken a strong interest in playing classical music. My interests are playing baroque music and shmaltzy and unshmaltzy encores. Debussy, spanish music, Kreisler.

I'm interested in good books on classical music interpretation, from a how-to perspective more than a theoretical perspective. Also I'm looking for a good, readable book on baroque theory, specifically Bach.

Any recomendations?
posted by sully75 to Media & Arts (9 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Playing one beat against another (e.g. 3 against 2) is called a Polyrhythm. I haven't used any books on this topic, but if you google with that word you'll find lots (like this). Is that the sort of thing you're looking for?
posted by PercussivePaul at 1:23 PM on February 10, 2009

Response by poster: Sorry...I should have called it a polyrhythm.

Yeah that book might be good but I was looking for a personal recomendation of something that someone thought was good.
posted by sully75 at 2:09 PM on February 10, 2009

I've been using Rhythmic Training by Robert Starer and I like it a lot. The last section includes tricky combinations like 2 against 5 or 3 against 5.

The way I think about playing two independent rhythmic lines is that there is always a smaller unit of time that is underlying both, found by dividing by the lowest common multiple. So for 2 against 5, if you start slow, and map it as 10(2*5) pulses, then it makes more sense. Like this:

1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & 5 & for the 'five'
and a note on the 1 and the & of 3 for the 'two' (I can't make the numbers line up in this font).
posted by umbú at 2:14 PM on February 10, 2009

lol, Steve Vai showed me how to play any polyrhythm here. Right near the top of the page he explicitly shows 5/2 and 7/3, in the same fashion umbú points out.
posted by Monstrous Moonshine at 2:23 PM on February 10, 2009

As someone with a music degree (Music History & Literature, but I had to take the same performance classes everyone else did), I can tell you that the only people I've met who could perfectly and repeatedly play polyrhythms were percussionists.

If you want to get good, I highly recommend that you take a few lessons on playing the snare drum. Hell, you don't even have to HAVE a snare drum -- just buy a practice pad and drumsticks and take a few lessons. Rhythmically, you will be light years beyond almost any non-professional classical musician you're likely to encounter (other than percussionists, of course).

(BTW - many electric bass players take drum lessons for this reason.)
posted by coolguymichael at 2:42 PM on February 10, 2009

Response by poster: Awesome guts. Looks like I can get the Starer book through my library. Thanks for the help!
posted by sully75 at 2:43 PM on February 10, 2009

Response by poster: And the Vai thing looks great too!
posted by sully75 at 2:43 PM on February 10, 2009

Also I'm looking for a good, readable book on baroque theory, specifically Bach.

Bach is common practice, so Walter Piston's Harmony, while not being specific to Bach, will cover all the bases.
posted by ludwig_van at 8:14 PM on February 10, 2009

When you mentioned 5 over 2 I immediately thought of Macy Gray singing "crumbles when you are" during "I Try".

You should write to Ed Harkins and ask him about rhythm. He's the world's leading expert, IMHO.
posted by billtron at 11:00 AM on February 11, 2009

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