In the last blog post Getting Pitchy, we looked at a process for finding pitch material in a group setting. Let’s say that in the course of that process, it became clear the group loves beat-based music. We’ve got 40 minutes left in class, and we need to get to a group composition by the end of the hour. What to do…
Let’s jump straight into a rhythm game based on different lengths of loops:
- By section, ask participants to count loops of different beat lengths out loud
- Brass count 1-2-3-1-2-3 etc.
- Woodwinds count 1-2-3-4-1-2-3-4 etc.
- Piano, guitar and percussion count 1-2-3-4-5-1-2-3-4-5 etc.
- Layer the loops, practicing all combinations of two loops, as well as all three loops at once. This gets trippy – listen to the loops phase and do the math to understand when the downbeats line up.
- Layer loops, this time asking participants to clap on beat one and count in their heads.
- Using the pitch material decided on as a group (see Getting Pitchy), ask sections to compose and practice a loop on their instrument that is the same number of beats they just practiced counting.
Tip: initial loops frequently come out in quarter notes. While sections are rehearsing, I give tips for finding rhythmic variations as needed.
- Layer the loops on top of each other as in #2.
In this 20-30 minute sequence, the group came up with music that has coherent pitch material, beat, and rhythmic process. By asking the group to work in sections, we built in a bit of orchestration. In the remaining time we have in our 1-hour class, there are a number of directions this collective composition can take. More next time!