Category: SongForm

The identification, classification and analysis of musical form as applied by Alive Drumming w.r.t. SFRT.

The Primacy of Rhythm in practicing popular music

hands on bongos

When learning a new piece of music, when should a musician work on getting right the rhythm and feel of the piece?

Introduction

I have long believed it has to be the very first thing to get right and there’s little point playing notes at all unless they are in the desired rhythm and feel.   Tempo, however, is a whole other subject – there’s a lot to be said for precision and even playing tunes at markedly different tempos to internalize the piece better.

Timing is the bedrock of music:  “When a note is struck at the wrong time, it’s the wrong note”.  Getting playing in the right rhythm as soon as possible is why I’ve always sought out structured and inspiring rhythmic backing.  This ultimately lead to  “Song Rhythm Tracks“. Continue Reading

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“Song Rhythm Tracks” – A Comparison

iPhone X

Song Rhythm Tracks” is Alive Drumming’s mobile Musician’s App providing production-ready rhythmic backing.  It is available on the Apple iOS App Store.

Alive Drumming brings musicians production-quality rhythmic backing, in it’s most convenient form — a mobile App to select, download and play Alive Drumming’s “Song Rhythm Tracks”.

Song Rhythm Tracks

Song Rhythm Tracks are a new type of backing track composed entirely of rhythmic backing (no melody or harmony) arranged to the musical form of the song — it’s “songform”. These tracks are complete performances like one gets from a professional drummer. They have a count-in, introduction section, choruses and characteristic endings, framed by fills showing where sections start and end. Even musical bridges and middle choruses have higher intensity where appropriate to the style. All this without a typical arranger’s interface thereby keeping it simple. One can select a track in under 30 seconds — under 15 seconds once one gets the hang of it.

The App’s player has tempo adjustment and a facility to sequence the tracks for your gig or jam session. It is for musicians of all abilities. New musicians use the App to provide an accompaniment to songs. They get a rhythm that is sympathetic so they learn to keep time, get into the groove and internalise the song’s musical structure – All this while enjoying engaging and inspiring rhythms. Gigging musicians catalogue their backing into setlists and use it to guide performance. Having quality rhythmic backing, with a setlist facility and a musician’s player, all in the one App is so convenient one finds oneself using this rhythmic backing more and more.

Musician’s Player

A “Musician’s Player” — what’s that? One that dims the screen, will play in the background, has good-sized buttons and allows you to change the volume with the physical buttons. Yes, that but this player also displays the musical form of the track such as

“4 choruses of 32 bars of standard AABA form (8|8/8|8) 
with no intro’ and a 4-Bar ending”, 

and provides visual tracking against this as it plays. This is the information musicians want right before they are about to play a track. If they start to lose their place a bit while they play, a quick glance at the display will likely get them back “on track” again.

Massive Library of Rhythms

There’s a huge number of rhythms and endless musical forms for your songs. Once selected, the arranged track is downloaded from Alive Drumming’s servers and then it stays on your device for playing. Alive Drumming grants the user rights to remix the track so they may be transferred to a computer to be included in the user’s own compositions and album releases.
Continue Reading

Alive Drumming’s favourite Frequently  Asked  Questions  (FAQ)

We have hand-picked some of our favourite  F.A.Q.s about Alive Drumming and Song Rhythm Tracks.


Why do these Song Rhythm Tracks sound so great?

They do, don’t they! And for a number of reasons:

  1. Great Recordings of Great Drummers – Song Rhythm Tracks are arranged from careful studio recordings of excellent drummers.  They are not constructed from midi files fitting together “samples” from single drum hits to form a mechanical style but rather multiple longer-form full recordings by top studio drummers, lasting from up to 8 bars at a time where you hear subtle drum rolls, variations in ride cymbal taps, complex fills and more.  The rhythmic style comes from talented drummers that are very experienced in that particular style be it Reggae, Salsa, Bossa, Rumba, Tango, Rock, Country, Jazz, Pop, Celtic, Praise & Worship, Blues, and lots more!
  2. There is natural variety promoted over the repeats.  That is a number of recordings of, say, a fill or shot are taken and selectively chosen while sequencing and engineering the final audio.  This provides the natural variety one gets with drummers.  It helps prevent the drumming becoming monotonous and repetitive.
  3. The drummer is spelling out many aspects of the song’s form as (s)he plays.  This might have a larger contributor than one might imagine.  It is what real drummers do, but drumming software rarely does.   The drumming is indicating
    • When you are returning to the ‘top of the form’ again
    • When your sections are ending and starting again
    • When you are starting or finishing a bridge section
    • Whether you are playing a middle chorus or, alternatively, the first or last chorus.   This not only helps you keep place while you are playing but it makes the whole experience so much more enjoyable to listen to or play along with.

All this takes a lot of careful preparation and curation, huge storage, and sophisticated algorithms.   We feel this cannot be achieved on mobile devices themselves which is why our solution involves our cloud services working with the mobile App.


Could you give me some examples of Song Forms?

Song Forms for a number of songs are here


Your drumming audio is dry! Will Alive Drumming, or can I, add reverb?

Alive Drumming’s Song Rhythm Tracks  are supplied without reverb (aka “dry”). We are endeavouring to make our iOS app Apple inter-app audio (IAA) compliant.  When it is, you will be able to use other, 3rd party app’s to add reverb to the audio.  See this youtube video for some of them in action.


Is Alive Drumming supporting my country or region?

globe
globe

Alive Drumming aims to cover all regions, countries, languages, and cultures, embracing a wide diversity of rhythms is what we are all about.  If we haven’t adopted yours yet, we almost certainly aim to in the future.  If you want yours to be supported now, why not contact us at marketing@alive-dumming.org


What song forms does Alive Drumming support?

We support all the popular, essential song forms by name – 12 bar blues, 16 bar tunes, 32-bar A1A2 and 32-bar AABA, and about 30 other less common also by name.    The list is increasing!  We also support selecting these same song forms using stick notation instead of names.  This simply specifies section lengths in bars, for example, ‘8|8/8|8’, where ‘bridge‘ sections are preceded by a ‘/’ instead of ‘|’. Additionally, we support users defining their own forms via stick notation, including repeats, and concatenation of up to four (4) parts.  This allows for a truly huge flexibility, enough to describe any song’s form.   See this user guide for more information,  Song Rhythm Tracks.


What rhythms are available for Song Rhythm Tracks?

The app currently supports about 60 different distinct rhythm categories, which includes about 250 distinct rhythms.  Of these, most are available with differing instrumentation such as ‘rim’ shots or, say, wooden blocks, and many at multiple tempos.  In all over 3,700 different rhythm track recordings are available that can be applied to a song form.   The app makes the selection of one of these 3,700+ recordings easy by providing filtering on a musical meter (say 4/4 or 3/4 time) and feel (even or straight, 8th or 16th notes).
Here is a tiny sample of the styles represented:

  • Jazz, swing, straight 8th, modern, sophisticated, old-time
  • American Country styles, including Nashville
  • American Blues, shuffles, hard shuffles, old-time, slow, fast
  • Salsa, Samba
  • Bossa, Jazz Bossa Brushes, Latin Bossa, bongos, percussion
  • Techno, various forms
  • Rock, hard rock, heavy
  • Pop, straight 8th, straight 16th, slow, medium, fast

For a full list of all rhythms and sub-rhythms see the page catalog-rhythmic-styles.


How can I use the Song Rhythm Tracks? What’s my licence?

Alive Drumming grants license to remix its tracks.  That is, you can take the Song Rhythm Tracks audio, mix with your own content, and sell that mix as your own work without paying a fee to Alive Drumming.
Alive Drumming prohibits resale or redistribution of its un-mixed, original Song Rhythm Tracks.  You cannot sell or give away these tracks unless you mix them into a new creative piece of work.
Alive Drumming appreciates artistic attribution but does not require attribution in your remixed works.  You do not need to attribute Alive Drumming for the rhythm track in your remixed original work but if you wish to please add, “rhythm track supplied by Alive Drumming (c)” and include a reference to this website.


How can I get these Song Rhythm Tracks? Are they available on Amazon or iTunes?

The tracks are available via Apple iOS mobile App and will later be available via an Android mobile app.
The huge permutations of song forms and rhythms available means the traditional audio file distribution channels of iTunes and Amazon do not fit this new medium of Song Rhythm Tracks.
In particular, Amazon and iTunes do not accommodate the additional assistance that is required for musician’s to select the appropriate track.
Alive Drumming has no plans to market these tracks on legacy media such as Audio CDs or DAT tape.


Who is Song Rhythm Tracks for?

All Musicians!   New Musicians;    Experienced Musicians;     Great Musicians;
Really, any musician including Pianists, Guitarists, Horn Players, Singers and even Drummers.
The tracks can be used for practice, performance and cutting a release.
To learn more about their benefit in practice, using the Song Rhythm Tracks app, see the news articles,
When to work on your rhythm?

How to practice, then how to jam

Why songform with rhythm tracks?


Would Alive Drumming include this extra rhythm?

If we don’t already include a particular rhythm, we would like to work with a drummer to include it.  This involves making high-quality audio recordings of the drumming at multiple tempos including multiple shots and fills used in turnarounds.   The audio recording will be analysed to identify where the various aspects occur and the preference level of each occurrence.   This is the basis for Alive Drumming to incorporate additional rhythms into their Song Rhythm Tracks.    If you are a drummer and have a rhythm you’d like to be represented please email feedback@alive-drumming.org


What’s Alive Drumming’s policy on privacy?

Alive Drumming takes personal privacy very seriously.  We are committed to proactively protecting the privacy of our customers by not storing any personal information unless it is absolutely required, and should that be the case, it will always be protected by strong encryption.  We will never sell or otherwise disclose any personal, private or confidential information we hold on others.


How can I learn about song form?

Song form is based on the concept that every song has been composed around a musical form or structure.   Popular song often chooses simple forms as a basis for a song but forms can be more complex as well.
A good reference on song form (structure) is the Wikipedia article,  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Song_structure

Alive Drumming wants to provide you with the easiest and most reliable methods to describe song form.
Song Form may be selected using both (i) traditional names such as ’16-bar Tune’, or (ii) the  ‘stick notation’ equivalent of ‘4|4|4|4’ if that is what you prefer.
For full information on Alive Drumming’s Song Rhythm Tracks mobile app and it’s flexibility in identifying Song Forms see the page, Song Rhythm Tracks

You may describe any Song Form with “user-defined” Song Forms in the mobile app, and for popular tunes, searching for a user-contributed Song Form for that song, again within the mobile app.   There are now tens of thousands of these being shared.


Song Rhythm Tracks

are a new type of backing track composed entirely of rhythmic backing (no melody or harmony) arranged to the musical form of the song — it’s “songform”. These tracks are complete performances like one gets from a professional drummer. They have a count-in, introduction section, choruses and characteristic endings, framed by fills showing where sections start and end. Even musical bridges and middle choruses have higher intensity where appropriate to the style. All this without a typical arranger’s interface thereby keeping it simple. One can select a track in under 30 seconds — under 15 seconds once one gets the hang of it.

The App’s player has tempo adjustment and a facility to sequence the tracks for your gig or jam session. It is for musicians of all abilities. New musicians use the App to provide an accompaniment to songs. They get a rhythm that is sympathetic so they learn to keep time, get into the groove and internalise the song’s musical structure – All this while enjoying engaging and inspiring rhythms. Gigging musicians catalogue their backing into setlists and use it to guide performance. Having quality rhythmic backing, with a setlist facility and a musician’s player, all in the one App is so convenient one finds oneself using this rhythmic backing more and more.

Song Rhythm Tracks are truly high-quality rhythmic backing that is convenient to select and play. You are not going to get tired of these backing tracks. You are not going to have to sequence anything. You will find that the player and setlist’s user-interface encourages continued use. You will get to appreciate the form of your songs more and you might include these tracks into your own single and album releases.

Whether you are learning a new tune, jamming, gigging or cutting your latest album, this Song Rhythm Tracks provides a solution.

Check out samples of the audio at Alive Drumming’s Samples page

Check out these articles from Alive Drumming that give further insights into the thinking behind the product –

When to work on your rhythm?

How to practice, then how to jam

Why songform with rhythm tracks?

Download the Song Rhythm Tracks App on the Apple App Store

Try Alive Drumming’s sampler apps to sample previously arranged tracks of popular tunes. It is then easy to use the app to adjust these to your practice and performance requirements. All the sampler apps are the same Song Rhythm Tracks app but with the included sample tracks.

 

Why do these Song Rhythm Tracks sound so totally great?

drummer AJAZZGO2017

These Song Rhythm Tracks do sound totally great, don’t they?

This is one of the most frequent things I hear.  The great sound quality often comes as surprise, perhaps because of the widespread familiarity everybody has with ‘Midi Drum Machines‘, which don’t satisfy in the same way as Song Rhythm TracksMidi Drum Machines and Song Rhythm Tracks are two very different products; we summarize their differences in the comparison section below.

The Song Rhythm Tracks Way

Song Rhythm Tracks
Song Rhythm Tracks

Here are the three top reasons why we believe these tracks are so great to jam to, to gig to, and to cut records to.

One – Great Recordings of Great Drummers – Song Rhythm Tracks are arranged from careful studio recordings of excellent drummers.

They are not constructed from midi files fitting together “samples” from single drum hits to form a mechanical style but rather multiple longer-form full recordings by top studio drummers, lasting from up to 8 bars at a time where you hear subtle drum rolls, variations in ride cymbal taps, complex fills and more.  The rhythmic style comes from talented drummers that are very experienced in the particular style be it Reggae, Salsa, Bossa, Rumba, Tango, Rock, Country, Jazz, Pop, Celtic, Praise & Worship, Blues, and lots more!

Two – There is natural variety promoted over the repeats.

That is, a number of recordings of all aspects of playing, fills, post-fills, shots and more are taken and selectively chosen while sequencing and engineering the final audio.  This provides the natural variety one gets with drummers.  It helps prevent the drumming becoming monotonous and repetitive.

Three – The arrangement is always spelling out aspects of the song’s form.

This might have a larger contribution than one might imagine.  It is what real drummers do, but drumming software rarely does.   The drumming is indicating

  1. When you are returning to the ‘top of the form’ again
  2. When your sections are ending and starting again
  3. When you are playing a bridge section
  4. Whether you are playing a middle chorus or, alternatively, the first or last chorus.   This not only helps you keep place while you are playing but it makes the whole experience so much more enjoyable to listen to, or play along with, as well.

All this takes a lot of careful preparation, curation, huge storage, and sophisticated algorithms.   We feel this cannot be achieved on mobile devices themselves which is why our solution involves cloud services working with the mobile App. Continue Reading

When to work on your “Rhythm”?

illu trumpet

When learning a new piece of music, when should a musician work on getting right the rhythm and feel of the piece?

We have long believed it has to be the very first thing to get right and there’s little point playing notes at all unless they are in the desired rhythm (feel and groove).   Tempo, however, is a whole other subject – there’s a lot to be said for precision and even playing tunes at markedly different tempos to internalize the piece better.

Timing is the bedrock of all music:  “When a note is struck at the wrong time, it’s the wrong note”.

Getting playing in the right rhythm as soon as possible is why we have always sought out structured and inspiring rhythmic backing.  This ultimately lead to  “Song Rhythm Tracks.

Rhythm and Timing

Practice Makes Permanent

One of the most repeated terms used to, and by, musicians is that “practice makes perfect”.   I’ve heard this altered to, “practice makes permanent”. i.e. if we repeat a thing over and over then we do internalize it and it becomes a facility we have “without consciously thinking about it”.  This is why we can do complex coordinated movements without much conscious thought such as driving cars and even using a knife and fork.   If you’ve never done these things in your life before they can be very challenging for the very first time, but once performed daily one doesn’t even recognize them as a challenge anymore.  It’s as if an entirely different part of your mind is assigned to the task.  So, what is important is that we are very selective about using this repetition technique and make sure it affects don’t work against us because if what we are practising is not beneficial then it will get internalized just as readily….   So, practice can make perfect;  It will eventually make permanent, but that permanency can defeat you as well as help you.

Developing your own sense of timing

A key aspect of music is rhythm and timing – it’s what can make music come alive, and it’s what can kill it as well.  It’s essential that we develop good rhythm and timing.

A Pulse!

If you haven’t yet developed the sense of that regular pulse that is present in most modern music – pop, folk, country, jazz – playing along to something with a pulse is of great benefit because wherever your pulse is lacking it will be clearly shown and you will automatically adjust to follow the pulse and keep the timing.  Great: That’s a real win.   My recommendation is to be very selective about the use of metronomes and click-tracks:  There’s more to rhythm than a pulse!

But not just any pulse!

Misuse of Metronomes and click tracks Considered Harmful

Always using a click-track when you practice and when playing together in a group will likely work against developing your own human interaction on the pulse and detract from the rhythmic nuances that end up being beaten out by the demanding, oh-so-regular, ‘click’.  In a similar way also, counting when you are jamming with others will be a problem:  Counting the pulses within the meter, such as 1-and-a, 2-and-a,  is an absolutely invaluable aid when learning a new, perhaps rhythmically challenging melody: I’ve heard it said that if you cannot count a melody or rhythmic idea out, you don’t really know it:  It is great to count it out to ensure we really know it, but once you have internalized that melody, it is time to stop counting it and feel the rhythm and communicate with the others you are playing with without blocking them out by counting in your head.

The Jazz educator Steven Sedergreen in his book, “Start Playing Jazz Piano Now“, writes, “Time and feel are intuitive rather than mechanical. Reliance on mechanical means such as counting and the use of metronomes are poor substitutes for feeling it. Time emanates from within the body and move outwardly, a natural feeling that should not be restricted”.  (chapter 21, para 4) Continue Reading

Why Song Form with Rhythm Tracks?

Dealing With Song Forms: Tips for Drummers

Check out the article above, “Dealing with Song Forms: Tips for Drummers” from the Learn Jazz Standards website. It is great advice for drummers on how to reinforce the song form while drumming.

Ever wondered why “Song Rhythm Tracks, and not just, “Rhythm Tracks“?

It’s because the drumming should always be outlining the form of the song you are playing.  That’s fundamentally the role of the drummer, or the rhythm track if you play without a drummer.  The article above, which is tutoring drummers, explains this very well.

Always play in “song form”

You shouldn’t be using a rhythm track that doesn’t outline the form of the song because, if you do, that then counteracts the form of the song and therefore defeats the song you are trying to play.  This can be subtle, particularly if you haven’t considered it before.  New musicians often haven’t and wrongly believe that any metronomic sound or groove will do.  They miss out terribly and not having the songform outlined will actually hamper your progress. Continue Reading

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