Photo by Dave Hodgkinson

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Solo study - Bill Stewart

Artist: Pat Metheny Trio
Track: Questions & Answers
Album: Trio Live 

How do you practice? A piece of advice I hear alot is 'concentrate on your flaws'. But how many of us really commit a good portion of our time to our deficiencies? As they say, If it sounds too good in the practice room, you're practicing the wrong things! 

The Last Waltz

Recently i've been addressing one of my weaknesses - playing in 3/4. 3/4 differs from its compound counterpart 6/8 in that its felt with a three-in-a-bar feel ( rather than the 6/8 two-in-a-bar feel). 4/4 and 6/8 are musically compatible in that a fast 6/8 or 12/8 can feel like a slow 4/4 subdivided in triplets. Conversely 3/4 can feel like a bar of 4/4 with a beat chopped off. This means playing over the bar line or using cross-rhythms can feel stunted or counterintuitive. I started searching for examples of a swung waltz that had an unbroken continuous quality and came across the track below. Bill Stewarts playing here has exactly the kind of brimming, fluent delivery i'd been hoping to achieve. The next couple of travel days around Europe were spent transcribing and learning this great solo. 
Bill Stewart

Listen to the track here

The solo starts at 6:00 mins

  • Be aware of the way Stewart closely follows the structure of the tune during his solo. The structure is a 56 bar AABA (A = 16 bars B = 8 bars)
  • Sing the tune whilst listening through. Notice how he plays the B section with a distinctly different feel, mimicking the tune
  • Notice the three-over-two phrase split between the snare and kick drum (Page 1, Line 7)
  • Listen to how he plays groups of 4 that move across the bar line (Page 1, Line 10, Bar 4) 
  • Stewart commonly uses the 4/4 swing ride pattern (Page 1, Line 7, Bar 3 onwards) which also moves across the bar line. N.B. Get comfortable with this and you can eventually begin to use your regular 4/4 vocabulary whilst holding the original 3/4 meter in your head
  • The rolling singles (Page 4, Line 5 onwards) have a nice dotted feel but these require some quick hands