Intro to Metric Modulation

Intro to Metric Modulation

Superimposing Time

The goal of this series is to actually put a lick under your fingers. Here, there’s no more searching for ideas in the sea of jazz theory information. We’ll give stuff you need to play and be creative. We will be talking about superimposing time to create some rhythmic interest in your soloing and comping.


Original Example

Today’s idea is taken from the November 2016 Tune of the Month Club for our “So What”. In this lesson, we will be discussing how you can add some rhythmic interest to your soloing as well  as your comping by superimposing different times.

Intro to Metric Modulation: Original Example

Sometimes, as improvisers, we are looking for different ways to add some rhythmic interest to our playing. Today we will be going over different ways to do that.

Strap on your helmets! This kind of thing can make you dizzy very quickly! ;-)

How It Works

Here, we are basically superimposing time signatures over our given time signature of 4/4. This is kind of like a themed restaurant from another country. You're still in your home country, but it feels like you're somewhere else!

We will also get into some basic polyrhythmic stuff to give us the ability to play over the barline and add rhythmic interest to our phrasing. We will take different lines and arpeggios and use them to structure our ideas.

Download ALL of the licks here: "Intro to Metric Modulation" PDF (includes TAB)

More Examples

Now let’s get into some more examples.

Example A

In example A, we are taking arpeggios in groupings of 5 and playing them over a 4/4 phrase to blur the barline. Basically, we are implying three 5/8 measures and rounding it off resolving to the third of C.  

Intro to Metric Modulation: Example A

This one can be a little weird to follow, so try to make sure you know where the "1" is at all times!

Example B

Here is Example B. In this one, we are playing a note every 3 16th notes, giving us a feeling of a different tempo while sustaining the current one. This is what’s commonly known as a 4:3 polyrhythm.  

Intro to Metric Modulation: Example B

It might also help to think of it this way. Imagine it as if you were playing a beat every three 16th notes. The red dots indicate where this lands.

Intro to Metric Modulation: 16ths

Example C

Here is Example C. In this one, we are taking the same 4:3 polyrhythm mentioned above and applying it to some comping. This is a neat way to create some rhythmic tension when accompanying another player.

Intro to Metric Modulation: Example C

Once again, use this chart to help "feeling" the rhythm.

Intro to Metric Modulation: 16ths

Jump In

Now you try! I’ll try some of these ideas in a ii V I in C, then you can try it.

Download ALL of the licks here: "Intro to Metric Modulation" PDF (includes TAB)

Once again, remember, if you need help with the improvisation material covered here, we’ve got you covered with our Jazz Improv 101 course!

Jazz Improv 101 Course

Thanks for joining us for Hands-On Jazz Guitar, Volume 15. We hope this has helped you and that you can add some rhythmic interest to your improvisation and comping.

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