The following is a guest post from Sam Smiley. Sam Smiley writes for his own website, Sam Smiley Music, where he explores jazz and country guitar. He has also been published in Just Jazz Guitar Magazine, Mel Bay Sessions, and Making Music Magazine.
The lessons I usually make for my own site are typically based on ‘the masters’ of jazz and country. When given the opportunity to contribute to Joel’s site, I had the idea of some odd meter country licks to go along with some of his recent explanations of rhythm. Thing is, there are not many (read: zero) odd meter country tunes. So here are some ways to change existing licks to be in a different meter. Note: this stuff is NOT exclusive to country!
Here is the original. It’s in the key of A, and is a relatively typical lick in the country/chicken pickin’ style. This one is easy to move around as well, so have at it!
One way to change a lick’s meter is to repeat a piece of it. When going from 4/4 to 5/4 you can just repeat a beat of the lick. That’s what is going on with the second example here.
In this lick we add extend the rhythm by adding a higher part that compliments the lick. This one is definitely an embellishment of the original, but they are still related. Another tip in making a lick sound like it’s in a different meter is to use notes moving in a similar direction. Check out beats 4, 5, and 6 to see each featuring 2 eighth notes moving up. This really gives it a 6/4 sound.
The final lick here is in 7/4. Here we are using the same techniques, just taking it further. We’re extending the beginning by adding just two more notes to the lick, then ending it similarly to the 6/4 lick.
Try doing this with some of your own licks-you’ll find some really cool embellishments as you work on this stuff. Plus you’ll get some great ideas for writing solos or improvising. What are some of your favorite odd meter tunes to play on?