Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Feelin' Groovy

I'm at Sandbridge Beach, enjoying a week of instruction with Ken Kolodner and 18 other awesome hammered dulcimer players. It's great to have time to learn new tunes and practice arranging ideas. We spent today's morning session working on our "groove".

What is "groove"? It's not the easiest thing to define in words. Think of it as a rhythmic pattern, repeated. The groove is enhanced by the accentuation of certain notes. It's the swing ... the flow ... the beat of the tune. You have to feel it, then learn to play what you feel.

But how does one go about learning how to feel the music?

  • Listen
  • Loosen Up - light grip, relaxed posture
  • Move - Tap your foot, sway, nod, whatever! Move your body to match how you feel.
  • Count - Feel the pulse. Identify where the patterns start and finish. Develop your inner clock. Practice!
  • Don't Emphasize Every Note - "Groove" comes from accenting some beats and holding back on others. Leave off some beats. Sometimes less is more.
  • Jam with Others - Especially others who have a good feel for the music! If you don't have a music buddy play along with recordings. You can even record yourself playing a melody, then have your own personal groove-along. Mess around until you find something that fits.
Now, better get back to that groovy bunch of trapezoids!

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