Rhythmic Material




Exercises for Jurjina

To practice rhythms I always recommend starting with a metronome. If you have access to a metronome that can mimic the dum and the tak of a rhythm, or even a loop of a percussion instrument playing the rhythm, that is even better. Start out by playing the rhythm with octaves, aligning with the dum and the tak. For odd time signatures I would recommend to always keep the subdivision in mind, and emphasize the stronger beats. When this feels comfortable, move on to playing small fragments of scales, or even better, jins, on top of the rhythm, keeping the strong beats in mind. Try to fill in the weaker beats with less important notes. Repeat phrases that feel natural to let them sink in.

          During my research I spent considerable time practicing the jurjina rhythm. In the end I made two pages of exercises for upright bass players, involving scales, arpeggios, thumb position, triplets and cross-rhythms. These exercises can be found all together in a PDF in appendix 2.


Exercise 1:

For this exercise I had the idea to combine the jurjina rhythm with an exercise involving diatonic triads. The problem was the uneven division of the rhythm, versus the consistent division in threes of the arpeggios. To resolve this I decided to play ‘the two-parts’ of the jurjina rhythm in triplets. This resulted in a very nice implication of acceleration within the bar. It gives a nice dynamic to the rhythm, and to the exercise. For this I decided to play diatonic triads in Bb, up and down alternating, moving up and down the scale.


Exercise 2:

This exercise consists of diatonic arpeggios, played in groups of five. This way they fit the jurjina rhythm perfectly. The exercise moves up the major scale diatonically, alternating upward and downward movement. To fit the subdivision of five, I stacked thirds on top of eachother, essentially creating a 9th chord (1-3-5-7-9).


Exercise 3:

This exercise combines the idea of a cross rhythm with the jurjina rhythm. The notes in the brackets form diatonic triads moving up. The rhythmic placement of the triads makes this exercise a loop, so it can be repeated.


Exercise 4:

This exercise consists of a diatonic scale walking upwards. To move up the scale, ten eighth notes are used. With the addition of a chromatic passing tone, the first beat of the next bar lands on the third, one octave up, of the starting point. Every second bar consists of a downward arpeggio that follows the jurjina subdivision. The chromatic passing tone is placed either before the first beat of the next bar, or right before the middle of the bar. This sounded the most natural to me.


Exercise 5

This exercise uses the same rhythmic idea as exercise 1, using triplets in the parts of the bar that are usually divided by two eighth notes. This particular exercise makes use of the possibility of playing hammer-ons on the bass. The exercise is basically the four open strings on the subdivision of the jurjina rhythm, with two hammered-on notes played behind it. The result is a more melodic application of the rhythmic idea that was presented in exercise 1.


Exercise 6

Exercise 6 employs the idea of playing groups of three eighth notes, until it lands on a downbeat. Exercise 6A consists of three groups of three notes, forming a total of nine notes. To land on the first beat of the next bar, one should start playing the pattern on the second eighth note of the bar, to land on the downbeat of the next. The notes used are stacks of fourths, across the three higher strings of the bass, moving up chromatically.

          Exercise 6B is an extension of the same idea, but now taken one step further. The first part of the subdivision of the jurjina rhythm is also a group of three eighth notes, so the pattern could even be extended one unit if threes further. In this particular case I created a lick over a II-V7 chord progression.

          Exercise 6C is another extension of exercise 6A, but now instead of three groups of three notes, six groups of three notes are used. In this exercise I also used the same principle of stacks of fourths, moving up chromatically.


Exercise 7

This exercise consists of a rhythmic pattern, followed by a scale. This results in a vamp-like groove that can serve as accompaniment for a solo, or improvisation. This example is written in Cm7-Bbmaj7, but could be transposed into any key or chord progression.