Rhythmic Dissonance

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“Bill Plake’s blog has been very inspirational to me since the first time I read it.  As a professional drummer and student of the Alexander Technique, I’m always curious about how to work with rhythm through the Alexander principles. Bill has posted great articles about this subject, along with composing two fantastic ebooks:  Essential Polymeter Studies in 4/4, and Rhythmic Dissonance. The step-by-step approach to both books is very helpful, thoughtfully organized, and will benefit all instrumentalists. Studying from these books will take the mystery out of some common musical stumbling blocks, and bring the mystery and flow back into making music.” 

-Joost Kesselaar, professional drummer and educator at the HKU Conservatory, Utrecht, Netherlands

“There are so very few books on the rhythmic aspects of improvisation. I’ve just started to scratch the surface but I find this one  (Rhythmic Dissonance) very well structured in its progression of exercises, and very clear on its goals. A must have for every improviser serious about his(her) music. I’ll make my students check this out. Great work Bill !”

-José Menezes, professional saxophonist and educator, Lisbon, Portugal

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For all treble clef instruments. Downloadable in pdf format, 80 pages. Price: $12.00

Though this is not a jazz etude book, per se, it is  a book that will help you noticeably improve your improvisational skills as well as your overall musicianship.

Just as a well-trained singer has to cultivate strong enough ears to maintain pitch when singing a dissonant note, so too, must a well-trained musician cultivate a strong internal sense of time in order to play a rhythmic pattern that goes against the grain of the basic underlying time pulse (i.e., syncopation), without compromising time and feel.

Rhythmic Dissonance is a book that is methodically designed to improve your ears for time and rhythm. It is an exploration of two specific types of syncopation that present the greatest challenges for virtually every musician: polymeter and polyrhythm.

By using very simple and familiar diatonic melodic patterns (all in the key of C major and C minor) that are organized in asymmetrical ways, through polyrhythms (specifically: triplets, quintuplets and septuplets), you’ll easily (but effectively!) be able to focus all your attention on the challenges of time and rhythm that each exercise presents. There are nearly 70 pages of notated practical exercises, along with clearly written instructions. By regularly practicing about 10 to 20 minutes daily from this book, you’ll:

  • Fundamentally improve your accuracy with time and rhythm.
  • Experience a progressively methodical introduction to polymeter and polyrhythm.
  • Improve your ability to play in odd times.
  • Learn to feel odd rhythmic subdivisions (such as three, five and seven) as easily as you feel four.
  • Increase your fluency in less-common polyrhythmic figures, such as quintuplets and septuplets.
  • Expand your rhythmic vocabulary and conception as you improvise.
  • Discover entirely new ways to practice scales and arpeggios.
  • Significantly improve your rhythmic sight-reading.

I’ve written these exercises with the intermediate to highly advanced musician in mind. Because the exercises (as well as the suggested practice procedure for the exercises) are progressed in a logical, doable way, you’ll find use for this book for a long time to come. Think of it as a method book for drumming, converted over for melodic instruments. It’s like strength training for your rhythmic muscles.

For all treble clef instruments. Downloadable in pdf format, 80 pages. Price: $12.00

Click the links below for a pdf SAMPLE EXERCISE from the book,  and for a midi sound file of the exercise for you to listen to.

Rhythmic Dissonance sample-pdf

Rhythmic Dissonance sample-midi

If you’d like to gain more of an idea about the concept, format, benefits and practice guidelines found in the book, click the link below for a pdf copy of the INTRODUCTION CHAPTER:

Rhythmic Dissonance Introduction Chapter-pdf

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If you have any questions about the material in this book, or are having any problems downloading the pdf, please contact me. I’ll get back to you promptly. Thanks!