Jingarah Music Studio


Notice how working with your voice as well as clapping helps the rhythm.

Many people around the world, from North Indian tabla players to Ghanaian

drummers, learn rhythms by vocalizing them. Vocalizing rhythms as well as

tapping them seems to gel them in the mind, just as singing melodies as well as

playing them helps you to learn to pitch—your voice is your instrument and the

most direct means of learning to make sounds.

The syllables suggested are conventional to jazz educators and worth learning

in themselves. They have been chosen because they are easy to say ("an" not

"and"), because they differentiate rhythms of different types ("one trip-let"

versus "one-an, two-an") and because they work well if repeated round and

round. Once you get good at saying the syllables, using pitched voice (singing) is

also less of a problem.

To get swing feel into your head, some people find it helps to sing the

subdivisions using two pitches, something like this:

The backbeat

In both jazz and rock music there is often a stress on beats 2 and 4, and this

stress or emphasis is known as the backbeat. It creates an up and down motion

within four beats, which you can feel in your body or when you click your

fingers, like this:

1 Try the above exercises again, this time slightly emphasizing 2 and 4, for


in swing:

08 p. 8 Subdividing the pulse.mp3

09 p. 8 Subdividing the pulse.mp3