Weekend Chops Builder: Pop Organ Workshop - A Rhythmic Interlude

July 29, 2016

[This article first appeared in the October 1976 issue of Contemporary Keyboard magazine.]

In addition to the various melodic and rhythmic patterns used by organists in contemporary arrangements, there is a rhythmic interlude, a four-measure pattern, that is frequently used as a turnaround and can also be used as a rhythm intro or faded out for a highly rhythmic ending.

The interlude shown is written in the key of F. The illustration should be considered the basic pattern and should be performed in at least the other four simple keys of C, G, Bb and Eb. Both hands are shown on the lower manual. Depending on the registration and the register (octave range) on the console, the pattern can be played with both hands on the upper manual.
Avoid having both hands in the middle or lower register of the upper manual when using 16' settings. I've added a repeat sign, as many players repeat the pattern with harmonic and melodic variations before going on with the arrangement.

The right-hand variations shown are to be used in the right-hand part of the pattern in the corresponding measures. The fullness of the chords (i.e. whether they contain three or four notes) should probably be maintained throughout, with either all three-note or all four-note chords played in the right hand. However, you do your own thing to please your ear.

Suggest you keep the tremulant off and avoid sustain or heavy reverberation to retain a clarity of tone. Now try the interlude.


[Ed. Note: The sharp-eyed among you will have noticed a discrepancy between the symbol Gb7(b5) and the notes shown in bar 4, above. To be technically correct, a Gb7(b5) should be spelled with the notes Fb and Dbb instead of E and C. But to spell them this way would violate their chromatic function (the E is a true leading tone, whereas an Fb would be a lowered tonic). Thus, the chord shown is not a Gb7(b5) but a C7(b5) in the second inversion, i.e. with the 5th in the bass. Inversions, however, are difficult to deal with in chord symbol notation. After conferring with Mr. Irwin, we decided it would be best to spell the notes throughout this column according to their true chromatic function, and to use a chord symbol, which, while technically incorrect, would guide the fingers onto the proper keys. Since chord symbol notation is a shorthand designed primarily to be useful, this seemed to be the best compromise.]

Next, choose one right-hand variation for each measure and keep trying the different variations until you have exhausted the material I've given you for the original interlude pattern.


To vary the pattern harmonically, I've changed the basic chord (Gb7) in the fourth measure to a basic C7, notated as 4V (measure 4 variation) in the following illustration:


When using the harmonic variation in the fourth measure (4V), try the following right-hand variations:


Next, I'm going to suggest that you try using the IIIm7 (Am 7) in place of the I chord in the first measure and use the dominant progression, as follows:


(Play the progression in the original rhythm pattern.)

And to play a harmonic variation of the harmonic variation (!), let's move chromatically down from the IIIm7:


For the readers who have asked for suggestions for reading materials, I recommend Improvising Jazz by Jerry Coker, published by Prentice-Hall, Inc., Englewood Cliffs, N.J., and available in paperback. A super book whose concept, contents, and graphics rate superlatives is Contemporary Music Theory by Jim McEachern. It is available only from Yamaha Canada Music Ltd., 1330 Portage Ave., Winnipeg, Manitoba R3G OV6, Canada. Price $10.00 9x12 size with 159 pages, profusely illustrated with large, easy-to-read type on fine-quality paper, the volume is a tremendous source of musical knowledge for all musicians. Under the main headings of Music Notation, Rhythm, Scales, Harmony, Melody, Form, Orchestration, Composition, and History, there is a wealth of information that ranges from basics to advanced levels; a valuable addition to your music library.

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