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Harmonizing the scale with arpergios

Posted by WayneConrad on Saturday, February 9, 2019

This week's homework is harmonizing the C major scale with arpegiated 7th chords, on the 4th and 3rd strings in drop-C tuning.  The arpegios are:

  • CM7
  • Dm7
  • Em7
  • FM7
  • G7
  • Am7
  • Bø

Here are the various 7th chords I'm working with:

  • M7 (major 7th): 1 3 5 7
  • m7 (minor 7th): 1 b3 5 b7
  • 7 (dominant 7th): 1 3 5 b7
  • ø (half diminished 7th): 1 b3 b5 b7

The names and symbols don't make sense to me.  I just have to memorize them.

My banjo instructor invited me to take a sabar drum class with Pape Diouf, an amazing musician with an interesting teaching style.  He doesn't tell you how to drum.  He shows you.  He drums out a rhythm, then it's your turn.  He said "again!" and shows you again.  Then you do it.  Over and over until you get it.  No talking about syncopation or beats.  It's kind of like how a parent teaches a baby to talk.  You don't tell the baby to first say this word, then that word; you don't explain that this is a noun and this is a verb.  You just talk with the baby and expect it to imitate you.

Papa does this around the circle until everyone can drum their rhythm, and then everyone drums together.  It was really neat to hear my rhythm mesh together with those of the other drummers.  Each drummer's syncopated rhythm meshes with the others like gear teeth.  If I was supposed to make this one note just ahead of the beat, and another drummer right on the beat, and another just after the beat, then the effect when we played together was this rolling note moving from drum to drum.

We banjo players like to think that we are pretty good at syncopation.  But...  no, not really.  Not compared to Sabar drummers.

It was exciting and difficult.  When Pape moved the beginners to the drums that carry the more difficult rhythms, I fell behind quickly.  But that's OK.  Pape said I did well for my first time at sabar, which I thought was really kind of him.

4 comments on “Harmonizing the scale with arpergios”

Deleteme Says:
Saturday, February 9, 2019 @2:59:19 PM

@WayneC the drumming class sounds really fun :)

WayneConrad Says:
Saturday, February 9, 2019 @9:20:24 PM

Northl - It was very fun. The drum troupe meets every Friday, says my instructor, so that's another musical thing I could do on top of my Thursday lesson. I don't want another activity right now or I would. I can tell that the rhythms I'd learn from drumming would leak over into my banjo playing in fun ways! And African rhythms bleeding over into an instrument that is at its roots African, that just seems right and proper.

Deleteme Says:
Sunday, February 10, 2019 @6:16:07 AM

It would be fun just to do it for a few weeks and see how it changes your playing. Every learning experience works together in surprising ways.

I read something particularly referring to learning and understanding scripture this week but it applies to this and other learning as well. It said we have to read things and study over them about 10 times before we can fully understand and know them. This drumming certainly goes along with your ear training and the entire picture. I wish I could try it. It sounds so fun.

WayneConrad Says:
Sunday, February 10, 2019 @7:05:18 AM

Northl - If only I could learn something by studying it 10 times. More like 100!

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