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When I look at lead sheets of today's pop I notice vocal melodies are often quite complex. Are vocal melodies usually complex regardless of when they were written or does it just vary?

Last edited by Sebs; 07/14/21 08:49 PM.
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Originally Posted by Sebs
When I look at lead sheets of today's pop I notice vocal melodies are often quite complex. Are vocal melodies usually complex regardless of when they were written or does it just vary?

lead sheets of today's pop

Can you give an example? Are the songs # 1 and # 2 from here difficult -


?

What exactly is difficult: melody, harmony, rhythm or rhythm reading from notes?

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Last edited by Nahum; 07/15/21 04:44 AM.
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For me I mean it playing RH the rhythms even with simple LH harmony. Such as there are a lot of sixteenth notes, dotted sixteenth notes, ties, in the vocal melody. For example, I played unchained melody it was far simpler in terms of vocal rhythm. Then say I want to do piano solo of Olivia Rodrigo, I go look at this lead sheet and I'm like nope, no way. I understand that signers don't write vocal melodies with intention to be played on piano but I was just wondering are most vocal melodies in modern pop that complex? I know there are some that are not as complex but not many.

Last edited by Sebs; 07/15/21 02:36 PM.
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Originally Posted by Sebs
For me I mean it playing RH the rhythms even with simple LH harmony. Such as there are a lot of sixteenth notes, dotted sixteenth notes, ties, in the vocal melody. For example, I played unchained melody it was far simpler in terms of vocal rhythm. Then say I want to do piano solo of Olivia Rodrigo, I go look at this lead sheet and I'm like nope, no way. I understand that signers don't write vocal melodies with intention to be played on piano but I was just wondering are most vocal melodies in modern pop that complex? I know there are some that are not as complex but not many.


It is a very simple melody with a very simple harmony. As far as pop melodic rhythms is concerned, I face this problem in class all the time, and there is a very simple solution for this: you learn the lyrics in accordance with the exact phrasing of the clip by ear. I'm not sure if you're going to be a studio musician; so use this patent without remorse!

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There are two contributions I'd like to make:

1) I think it's extremely rare that a melody is written for a singer these days. There is perhaps a loose idea which the singer will play about with and, from that, sheet music is eventually written and published. In other words the song influences what we read and not the other way around.

2) You're absolutely right about the increase in semiquaver rhythms in pop music. I think a lot of this stems from Speech Quality and the influence of rap and hip-hop in modern music. I think many melodies have also got higher - particularly in the male range, where a thinner/cry sound is much preferred to a heavy/thick sound.

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I think African American gospel singing, hip hop and rap have had an expanding influence on pop singing over the years and thus we get more syncopated melodies. I’ve noticed that generally the rhythms of the white’s pop music were simpler.


Harry Likas was the Technical Editor of Mark Levine's The Jazz Theory Book and helped develop The Jazz Piano Book. Studied with Mark Levine 1985-89 and Barry Harris 1995-99
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Originally Posted by Nahum
It is a very simple melody with a very simple harmony. As far as pop melodic rhythms is concerned, I face this problem in class all the time, and there is a very simple solution for this: you learn the lyrics in accordance with the exact phrasing of the clip by ear. I'm not sure if you're going to be a studio musician; so use this patent without remorse!

Excellent advice!


Harry Likas was the Technical Editor of Mark Levine's The Jazz Theory Book and helped develop The Jazz Piano Book. Studied with Mark Levine 1985-89 and Barry Harris 1995-99
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Originally Posted by RinTin
Originally Posted by Nahum
It is a very simple melody with a very simple harmony. As far as pop melodic rhythms is concerned, I face this problem in class all the time, and there is a very simple solution for this: you learn the lyrics in accordance with the exact phrasing of the clip by ear. I'm not sure if you're going to be a studio musician; so use this patent without remorse!

Excellent advice!
Basically, I propose to study the rhythmic side of pop songs seriously and thoroughly, and this will remain forever. For this song: extract the rhythmic patterns (they all repeat) and learn their prosody.

[Linked Image]


Consonants define the boundaries of notes. Internal subdivision into sixteenths.

The work involved pays off in hundreds of other songs.

Halo

See You Again

Last edited by Nahum; 07/18/21 04:54 AM.
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Another great post, Nahum. I think the practice if subdivision is the key to rhythmic mastery and good time keeping.


Harry Likas was the Technical Editor of Mark Levine's The Jazz Theory Book and helped develop The Jazz Piano Book. Studied with Mark Levine 1985-89 and Barry Harris 1995-99
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Originally Posted by RinTin
I think the practice if subdivision is the key to rhythmic mastery and good time keeping.
By the way, about the training method.

Work on each pattern separately:

1. Learn the exact sequence of syllables - no metronome.
2. Tune the metronome to 69 BPM. Each beat (in this case) is equal to one eighth or two sixteenths. However, in the case of the bossa nova, the same patterns are based on quarters and eighths.
3. Practice the pronunciation of each pattern out loud 8 times.
4. Add claps to the metronome, combining with pronunciation - 5 times.
5. Combine pronunciation and piano playing. Strictly observe the coordination of the beginning and end of each note and each pause - 20 times.
6. The same, transferring the pronunciation inward.
7. Gradually change the speed of the metronome.
8. Tie in a chain all patterns, no earlier than each of them will be thoroughly learned. Insufficiently learned patterns tend to be distorted by the previous.
9.Tune the metronome to 55 BPM. Each beat is equal to one fourth or two eighths , or four sixteenths.

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Originally Posted by Nahum
Originally Posted by RinTin
I think the practice if subdivision is the key to rhythmic mastery and good time keeping.
By the way, about the training method.

Work on each pattern separately:

1. Learn the exact sequence of syllables - no metronome.
2. Tune the metronome to 69 BPM. Each beat (in this case) is equal to one eighth or two sixteenths. However, in the case of the bossa nova, the same patterns are based on quarters and eighths.
3. Practice the pronunciation of each pattern out loud 8 times.
4. Add claps to the metronome, combining with pronunciation - 5 times.
5. Combine pronunciation and piano playing. Strictly observe the coordination of the beginning and end of each note and each pause - 20 times.
6. The same, transferring the pronunciation inward.
7. Gradually change the speed of the metronome.
8. Tie in a chain all patterns, no earlier than each of them will be thoroughly learned. Insufficiently learned patterns tend to be distorted by the previous.
9.Tune the metronome to 55 BPM. Each beat is equal to one fourth or two eighths , or four sixteenths.

Do you suggest using the syllable system you display or do I use the actual lyrics? Is step one saying to learn the words and rhythms and don't even bother to play on the piano until step 5?

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Originally Posted by Sebs
Do you suggest using the syllable system you display
Yes.

Quote
Is step one saying to learn the words and rhythms and don't even bother to play on the piano until step 5?
Yes. This is exactly what I did today in a lesson with a 73 year old student who is learning Bartok's Romanian Dance # 4; where he got confused from the start between triplet, dotted rhythm and four sixteenths. 20 minutes - and we solved a problem that he could not cope with on his own.

Last edited by Nahum; 07/19/21 12:44 PM.
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Where are those syllables from?


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Originally Posted by RinTin
Where are those syllables from?
Combination extract from various sources: Takadimi, jazz scat by Bob Stoloff version , saxophone articulation techniques, my finds for playing melodica -with help of Stoloff .Each syllable has a specific rhythmic unit, a specific articulation and a specific ending. This is not simple one-and-two-and or tatata-lalalala.

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Originally Posted by Nahum
Originally Posted by RinTin
Where are those syllables from?
Combination extract from various sources: Takadimi, jazz scat by Bob Stoloff version , saxophone articulation techniques, my finds for playing melodica -with help of Stoloff .Each syllable has a specific rhythmic unit, a specific articulation and a specific ending. This is not simple one-and-two-and or tatata-lalalala.

Is the benefit that these syllables directly translate to an exact sub division? For example, if I were to use the lyrics I could still be sub-dividing incorrectly? Then after you use the Takadimi then you add in actual lyrics?

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Originally Posted by Sebs
Is the benefit that these syllables directly translate to an exact sub division? For example, if I were to use the lyrics I could still be sub-dividing incorrectly?

Try to determine the rhythm of a melody by rhythm of the lyrics:

whether you're a brother or whether
you're a mother ,you're
stayin' alive , stayin'
alive . Feel the
city breakin' and everybody
shakin' ,people , stayin'
alive , stayin'
alive .

compared with

Takatahu tikititu akataka tikititu akatitu ahu n'n'
takatitu ahu n'n'
Takataka tikititu akataka tikititu akatitu ahu n'n'
takatitu ahu n'n'


Quote
Then after you use the Takadimi then you add in actual lyrics?

"Takadimi" - to play the instrumental version from the sheet music, bypassing the lyrics. This is in the case of a new song that you have never heard , or playing in an ensemble with an accurate arrangement. By learning the lyrics from the original recording, you will memorize the rhythm for a lifetime.

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Originally Posted by Nahum
Originally Posted by Sebs
Is the benefit that these syllables directly translate to an exact sub division? For example, if I were to use the lyrics I could still be sub-dividing incorrectly?

Try to determine the rhythm of a melody by rhythm of the lyrics:

whether you're a brother or whether
you're a mother ,you're
stayin' alive , stayin'
alive . Feel the
city breakin' and everybody
shakin' ,people , stayin'
alive , stayin'
alive .

compared with

Takatahu tikititu akataka tikititu akatitu ahu n'n'
takatitu ahu n'n'
Takataka tikititu akataka tikititu akatitu ahu n'n'
takatitu ahu n'n'


Quote
Then after you use the Takadimi then you add in actual lyrics?

"Takadimi" - to play the instrumental version from the sheet music, bypassing the lyrics. This is in the case of a new song that you have never heard , or playing in an ensemble with an accurate arrangement. By learning the lyrics from the original recording, you will memorize the rhythm for a lifetime.

I couldn't get the SNF rhythm from the 'Taka' syllables you provided. I find it incredibly confusing.

Although I understand the premise, surely just learning to recognise rhythmic patterns is better in the long term. Yes, we can use 'word-hooks' to work out something we're not sure on - but there's also other methods to do this too, such as doubling note values and clapping through more recognisable rhythms until we know how they sound.

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Originally Posted by fatar760
I couldn't get the SNF rhythm... I find it incredibly confusing...
Although I understand the premise, surely just learning to recognise rhythmic patterns is better in the long term.
Excuse me, what is SNF rhythm?

As for the rhythm of pronunciation, what is confusing you here?

[Linked Image]
Do not try to study everything at once from the beginning to the end, but according to the African principle: riff number 1, riff number 2, etc.


Neither you nor I can promise anyone a lightning-fast process of learning to read notes and rhythm; however, after creating a dictionary of rhythm patterns, my approach just saves time compared to regular counting and the like. Checked on the watch.
Anyway, in my rhythm course, a group of students passed the exam at the end of the first semester by sight-reading rhythm exercises.

Last edited by Nahum; 07/21/21 04:21 AM.
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Originally Posted by fatar760
Although I understand the premise, surely just learning to recognise rhythmic patterns is better in the long term. Yes, we can use 'word-hooks' to work out something we're not sure on - but there's also other methods to do this too, such as doubling note values and clapping through more recognisable rhythms until we know how they sound.

Exactly. Pop musicians (professional or aspiring) will take the most efficient path to get to grips. There's no point in adding an additional layer to the learning process.

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