|Originally published: July 28, 2020|
Groove and Tempo
Do you ever wonder, “How can I make this song unique?” Or, “How can I put my own stamp on this music?” One way to create a fresh new version of a song is to try it with a new tempo or groove!
It’s amazing how many ideas – melodic, lyric, instrumental etc – can start flooding your brain when you start to play with tempo and groove. By tempo, we mean the speed of the beats in your song, and by groove, we mean the defining rhythmic figures that give your song its “feel.”
In your practice times, you can unlock amazing new ideas when you take tempo to the extreme. Take a rock song and slow it down until it’s painfully slow. Or, take a slow ballad and speed it up until it seems un singable. Now commit to these new tempos and try to make them work – that’s when the ideas will start flowing. Will you perform the song at that extreme tempo? Of course not! (Well, I guess you could consider it if it is really working for you). The point is to force yourself to negotiate the new tempo in order to bring out new ideas.
Playing with groove is easy if you use recordings for inspiration.
Pick a song you like to sing, but that you feel needs a little makeover to create more interest and uniqueness. Let’s say you picked “Happy” by Pharrell Williams
Go and listen to a completely different song you love with a very different “feel” or “groove.” Let’s say the different song is “Smooth” by Santana for inspiration.
As you listen to “Smooth”, tap or move to the song so that the groove starts to sink in. Now try to vocalize the basic rhythmic pattern of the song, such as “Bap bap ba da da da dat da.” Internalized the groove of that song.
Hit pause on Smooth, but keep tapping or moving as if the song was still playing. Now start trying to sing “Happy” while keeping the new groove going.
|To learn more about groove and tempo with Emily Braden, upgrade, and take her course Tools for Expressive Song Interpretation and go to her final two lessons.|
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Kathy Alexander is VP of Curriculum for Singdaptive. She was a staff writer for 6 years at VoiceCouncil Magazine and works for the University of Victoria as a practicum supervisor. Kathy is also a singer, vocal coach and choir director. Career highlights include guest appearances in Europe with Quannah Parker jazz fusion band in Norway, and back on the West Coast with Vision TV’s Let’s Sing Again, The Sooke Philharmonic Orchestra and the Victoria International Jazz Festival.