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METRIC MODULATIONS

   

In this lesson we will look at what metric modulations are, how they "work", and when they're used. A metric modulation (MM) is basically when you imply a second time signature over the top of the original time signature. There are hundreds of examples of this, but let's take a simple one below. We will learn the MM process in 3 steps to help outline the ideas used.

1) Our original time signature will be 12/8, which sounds like 4/4 with a triplet feel. Let's play a basic 12/8 rock beat..

2) Let's start playing a polyrhythm over the top on the hihat, as an open hihat gliss on every 2nd triplet, starting on beat 1.

3) The MM actually happens when you commit to the polyrhythm and start phrasing off it, as if it were the primary pulse. A simple beat like this for instance..

..sounds to the listener that the implied time is actually 4/4 but at a faster speed. This is what most peoples ears will hear..

WHEN WOULD I EVER USE METRIC MODULATIONS?

Sometimes music is actually written with these concepts in mind. Sophisticated styles of music like Fusion, Electric Jazz, Modern Jazz, Prog Rock etc use them all the time. But you can also launch into these ideas in any improvised setting as well, to build rhythmic variety and interest.

Also Metric Modulations are a smart way at ariving at a different speed. Often composers will use a concept like Metric Modulations to get from a slower speed to a faster speed (or vice versa) rather than simply changing the music to a non related speed.

 

 

LESSON MENU or MORE LESSONS IN THIS SERIES

Linear Beats 1 Layered Beats 1 Expanding Rhythms - Swung
Linear Beats 2 Layered Beats 2 Expanding Rhythms - Straight
Swinging A Linear Beat Metric Modulations Meter Shifting Using 7's
Artificial Rhythms - Time Inside Time Parallel Time Signatures Awesome Independence Exercise