Varying the Melodic Rhythm- by Dan Gaynor

Pianist Dan Gaynor wrote this article.

I've been practicing over here. I'm taking a melody (with no accompaniment) and playing it over and over with phrasing variations, taking care not to repeat myself. I'll delay the melody and catch up later or add passing tones and various things. After a certain point I found it convenient to try rhythmic variations on the melody I was trying. I'd play the entire melody as triplets or sixteenths and keep the form by starting in the right place (accounting for new rests). Then I tried playing the whole thing an eighth note forward or backward from the original. Obviously this applies more to tunes with a lot of rhythm, as opposed to, say, All the Things You Are. I'd imagine one would have a lot of fun with Oleo, Moose the Mooche and Donna Lee, this way. In fact, on Lee Konitz and Warne Marsh, when they play Donna Lee, Lee is a quarter note away from Warne, so I'm sure they practiced this sort of thing. Regardless, finding personal ways to phrase melodies is practically synonymous with being an artistic improviser, so anything you can do to stretch your mind around how should be helpful.

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