Magazine article Guitar Player

Rhythm Workshop: Fifteen Flights

Magazine article Guitar Player

Rhythm Workshop: Fifteen Flights

Article excerpt

AS WITH ANY ODD METER, 15/8, which entails 15 eighth-notes per measure as shown in Ex. 1, cannot be divided in half, but its lopsided combinations of eights and sevens, and its divisibility by both five and three, allow for some very cool subdivisions and grooves. In fact, the meter's sheer amount of beats per measure necessitates subdividing just to keep track of its basic pulse.

We begin with the obvious 8+7 and 7+8 eighth-note divisions notated in Examples 2a and 2b. The former beams together two sets of four eighth-notes for an 8/8 grouping (essentially a bar of 4/4), followed by four- and three-note groups for the 7/8 division, while the latter reverses this strategy. Establish a comfortable tempo and tap your foot in accordance with the written accents in each example, noting how you must double-up your taps when crossing from sevens to eights. The overall effect is a bar of 4/4, followed by a bar of 7/8, or vice versa, and Examples 2c and 2d illustrate how both figures can be rewritten as such.

Things get even more interesting when we subdivide a measure of 15/8 into the three five-note groups depicted in Ex. 3a. Count this one as you would three consecutive bars of 5/8 by doubling up your foot taps every fifth note. Ex. 3b reverses the 3x5/8 division to 5x3/8. This creates a triplet feel with a dotted-quarter-note pulse, making it ripe for a 15/8 shuffle--just omit the middle eighth in each three-note set--or further sixteenth-note divisions.

Our first real-life app (Ex. 4), which comes courtesy of the JB's (Jeff Beck and Jennifer Batten), demonstrates the 8 + 7 grouping from Ex. …

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