Advanced Rhythm for Classical Musicians

Develop a higher level of rhythmical accuracy

by Oyens, Reina, Bisquert, Zwaanenburg.

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15 lessons

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Advanced Rhythm supplies the training to meet the demands of 20th and 21st century music. In orchestral or ensemble situations, most musicians at one point or another in their careers will have to face a piece by Stravinsky, Bela-Bartok, Varèse, Berio, Ligeti, Messiaen, Carter or Xenakis to mention just a few well-known composers. It is clear that today’s music asks for a radically new approach to training rhythm, a training that will provide the necessary tools to face more complex rhythmical concepts with accuracy, while preserving the emotional content.

This 15-week course teaches musicians how to perform polyrhythms and polypulses, how to play phrases in quintuplets and septuplets with complete accuracy and feeling, and very importantly, how to create a better sense of pulse in the musician. To achieve these ends, the usage of 'solkattu' (South-Indian set of rhythmical syllables) plays a very important role in order to memorise and feel rhythmic patterns and phrases. This course is exclusively practical. No complex theories or concepts - only practical exercises are given in order to acquire a greater degree of accuracy without losing the sense of feeling and emotion. It is directed at performers of all instruments.

3.5 hours

Skill Level:

Backing Tracks:
Practicing software especially designed for this course


Certified from the Conservatorium van Amsterdam

Personalised video feedback every lesson

Watch the video for more information or go directly to the course content  

Content of this course

Lesson 1
In this lesson we will give a short review of the subject and explain about the course, the techniques we use, the methods we use and the practice routines.

Lesson 2
In this lesson we will explain about the fundamentals of practicing Gatis. We will use the system of syllables called solkattu or konnakkol.

Lesson 3
In this lesson we will give you a couple of more techniques for your practicing of gatis and improve your sense of inner pulse. But, as you probably realized by now, getting rid of old conditionings and creating a steady sense of pulse are not things that you can do in one week! We encourage you to keep doing the exercises proposed in the first lesson, as well as the ones we’ll provide today, for a few weeks. As a matter of fact, it would be really advisable that they become your ‘warm-up’ routine even when we see more advanced material or even when you have finished this online course.

Lesson 4
In this lesson we will learn the second topic: Jathis. We will look at the different Jathis and the Solkattu syllables assigned to a Jathi. We will give examples, practice methods and assignments.

Lesson 5
In this second week of working with jathis, we’re going to take a step further and work with two techniques that will enable you to change jathis within the same gati or gatis sharing the same jathi. These two techniques have the pedagogical value of helping you to internalize the gati/jathi combinations in a linear way, and creatively can be a very useful tool for written or improvised passages to give the illusion of changing meters or tempo while staying in the same pulse.

Lesson 6
In this lesson we will start a new topic: Vertical relationships. Once you have acquired a good feeling for all gati/jathi combinations, we go deeper in this essential material by combining vertically these combinations. There are three different options and, in this lesson, we’ll see how the first one works.

Lesson 7
In this lesson we will cover the second technique. Both layers keep the same jathi, but use different gatis. In this option, both performers or layers play the same jathi but, due to the fact that the jathi is performed in two different gatis, the listener perceives two different pulses or tempi played simultaneously.

Lesson 8
In this lesson we will cover approximately the first ½ of the third and last technique. Both layers use different gati and jathi. This option is a combination of the two previous concepts: longer structures of polyrhythms mixed with the perception of both layers having two different tempi.

Lesson 9
In this lesson we will roughly cover the second ½ of the third and last technique. You will have to face the most tricky combinationS of the whole chart.

Lesson 10
The approach in karnatic music to learning how to phrase with gatis is far removed from the way western solfege approaches this issue. It is not only the fact that from the beginning any music student will work on four gatis without giving more importance to any particular one; the thinking behind is also radically different. The very first step is to systematically study all the possible cells that can be created in each gati.

Lesson 11
In this lesson we will start working with misra, which is the gati with the highest amount of cell combinations. As in the previous lesson the most important aspect for this week’s work is to lay down the foundations for a good feeling for each cell in misra and constructing phrases by exclusively combining the cells.

Lesson 12
In the next four lessons rests and tie-overs are introduced in a gradual fashion. The approach of learning only a number of cells and looking at any phrase simply as a combination of these cells whilst simultaneously, treating the rests and tie-overs as ‘non-attacked’ notes of a particular cell, provides the musician with a high sense of security and accuracy without losing the feeling of the gati.

Lesson 13
In this lesson we will continue with the same set of exercises that you have worked on for khanda and tisra but in misra. That is, applying rests and tie-overs to the phrases we proposed and the ones you wrote for lesson 10 in order to create more intricate phrases.

Lesson 14
In the two remaining lessons we are going to deepen In phrasing with gatis with an increasingly level of difficulty due to a more abundant use of rests and tie-overs. We are going to work with the three gatis. What it follows is a very detailed account of a systematic process for classical musicians, introducing more intricate rests and tie-overs in a gradual fashion.

Lesson 15
In the very last lesson of this course we take a step ahead in the use of rests and tie-overs. As you can see in the examples presented, the number of rests and tie-overs become increasingly more difficult and the phrases are also longer. The latter is a factor of considerable importance because you need to keep the feeling of the gati regardless how many rests or tie-overs are used.

How it works

The course is a series of related video lessons, each structured around a specific topic or topics. By the end of this course, you will have developed a strong sense of direction in your daily study routine.

Weekly video lessons
after joining the course, you will be able to view a new video lesson weekly. Each video lesson consists of:
- Examples that musically define the sound of the topic you are studying in each video
- A study routine section in which we first discuss how to study the specific topic of each lesson. We will then play several exercises specially written to show you how to structure your daily study routine
- Assignments that will help you consolidate and practice what you have learned in each video.

Weekly assignments
After each lesson, you will be asked to study, practice and then video record yourself playing an assignment which may consist of several exercises. When ready, you submit the video of your assignment. The process of having to record yourself every week, significantly helps to internalise the material discussed in this course - quickly and naturally.

Weekly feedback
You will then receive a video with individual and personalised feedback to each assignment, every lesson. The personal feedback that you receive will enable you to improve and clarify any questions that might arise during your weekly study. You can view the feedback as many times as you like.