Question: How should I approach soloing over odd meter, especially when there's a slight bit of syncopation involved in the riff/drumbeat underneath? I'm not talking about improvising, as I'm not at that stage in my playing yet, but rather about constructing a solo. I want to get to a stage where I can count intuitively while playing and know where to add accents, where to stop and start phrases etc. Basically to get as comfortable with all types of odd meters as I am in 4/4.

Tom Hess's Answer: If you are new to playing over odd meter, start with more simple riffs that don't have syncopation in them. You should first get comfortable with feeling the downbeats (just like you do with music in 4/4). Do this several times to build your confidence with this skill and learn to identify the pulse of the meter you are in. You already do these same steps when soloing/playing in 4/4 (only it happens so fast that you don't notice yourself thinking about it).

The most important thing when it comes to learning how to easily play in odd meters is consistent practice. The reason why playing in 4/4 is most comfortable for you isn’t because it is so much easier to play in this time signature versus 5/4 or 11/8 or any other odd meter. It is because you have played all of your music almost exclusively in 4/4 (up to this point) that this meter feels so natural for you to play in. Keep practicing with simpler groupings of odd meter, learn how the notes are grouped there and how the accents are placed. Over time this will become very intuitive.


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