This is a public version of the members-only Jazz Sax with Eric Marienthal, at ArtistWorks. Functionality is limited, but CLICK HERE for full access if you’re ready to take your playing to the next level.

These lessons are available only to members of Jazz Sax with Eric Marienthal.
Join Now

Basic Saxophone
Intermediate Saxophone
Advanced Saxophone
Exercise of the Week Archive
Lick of the Week Archive
30 Day Challenge
«Prev of Next»

Jazz Sax Lessons: Creating Rhythm in Your Playing

Lesson Video Exchanges () submit video Submit a Video Lesson Study Materials () This lesson calls for a video submission
Study Materials Quizzes
information below Close
information below
Lesson Specific Downloads
Play Along Tracks
Backing Tracks +
Written Materials +

+Basic Saxophone

+Intermediate Saxophone

+Advanced Saxophone

+Exercise of the Week Archive

+Lick of the Week Archive

Additional Materials +
resource information below Close
Collaborations for
resource information below Close
Submit a video for   
Jazz Sax

This video lesson is available only to members of
Jazz Sax with Eric Marienthal.

Join Now

information below Close
Course Description

This page contains a transcription of a video lesson from Jazz Sax with Eric Marienthal. This is only a preview of what you get when you take Jazz Sax Lessons at ArtistWorks. The transcription is only one of the valuable tools we provide our online members. Sign up today for unlimited access to all lessons, plus submit videos to your teacher for personal feedback on your playing.

CLICK HERE for full access.
We are now gonna work on Creating Rhythm
in Your Playing and for
this I have enlisted
the help of my handy dandy metronome.
[SOUND] My metronome here
is an app on my phone.
[LAUGH] The important thing,
no matter what metronome you have,
the important thing is to
make sure you can hear it.
I know it sounds kind of silly.
I mentioned this on a couple
of other lessons, too.
But you know, so often we have these dinky
little metronomes that are really cool
because they can fit
easily in your wallet.
But, they do no good because
you can't hear them.
Especially over the sound
of your loud saxophone.
So, this is a metronome just called tempo.
If it wasn't free as an app,
it was awfully close to it.
It was really cheap.
But it's really universal.
But, the cool thing is
that I can turn it on and
it clicks in even time and
I can hear it just fine.
So, make sure you've got
something that you can hear.
So, when we improvise, when we play,
actually for this lesson,
I'm focusing on rhythm that we're creating
in our solos, in our improvisations.
Of course, you always wanna make
sure that you're playing in time,
whenever you're playing
any metronomic anything.
When you're playing a scale.
I've talked and
I continue to talk throughout my school
about the importance of
whenever you practice anything,
that it's way more beneficial to
practice a scale, an exercise,
whatever, with the metronome because it
locks your fingers in time exactly when
you want them to go down, so
almost detrimental in a lot of cases.
Not to use your metronome because you can,
you might be practicing
playing in bad time.
So, using your metronome when you practice
is really important but here, are some new
ideas hopefully, for you in terms of
just creating rhythm in your playing.
As I was going to say, when you're
improvising, we're thinking about so
much harmony and melody, you know,
what we're doing, and
with regards to chord changes and
how we weave through the chord
changes to create melodies and
playing the third of that chord and
leading to the fifth of the next chord and
all these different harmonic and
melodic concepts.
Very often we forget about
the importance of rhythm in our solos,
so be aware of that.
If you play a solo
that sounds like
So I added a few
notes there.
But point is that the rhythm of what
I just played was the cooler part.
I did play a few notes in there, but
important thing was the time and
the rhythm that I was playing.
So, what's fun to do, and what's really
great practice to do, is to fire up your
metronome and pick one tonal center.
Okay, so right now, I'm playing on my
alto, and if you're playing tenor or
whatever, A minor is kind of a fun key.
And turn on your metronome,
and just simply, well,
just turn it on and play something
that really locks in to the metronome.
As I'm talking to you,
I'm thinking maybe quarter notes.
Making sure that you're really
locking in to that metronome.
So, if you know, the only way you're going
to be able to play good rhythm in your
solos is to make sure you've got
good time and have developed that.
It's great to develop
that by using exercises,
all kinds of different things here
in my school, scales, what not.
But you know what,
to hit one note with that metronome with
every click is a great place to start.
So [SOUND] I've got it
set at 120 by the way.
[SOUND] And I'm going to be playing
quarter notes along with each beat.
[SOUND] Ready?
Here we go.
About 90,
95% maybe.
So, that's a great practice by the way.
In that case,
I'm just practicing the tempo and
the time, and the rhythm of my tongue.
No fingers were in play so
it was all about the articulation.
The tongue,
is just as an important part of our
rhythmic playing as our fingers are.
Probably, frankly, even more so if you're
talking about creating a solo that's
more rhythmic based and less note based.
So make sure, if that's a struggle for
you, make sure you're able to do that,
Also, subdivide, so that if I have my
metronome, that's gonna be a little quick,
so I'm gonna fire it down to 100 and
I'm gonna play here.
And I'm gonna subdivide each beat in half,
so I'm gonna hit the note two times
>> For every click,
You could tell I got a little
ahead there for a minute, so
that's a great practice thing for
you to do too.
Do that on your own, and
I'd love to see a video of you doing that,
as well.
Okay, so
as far as just creating a rhythmic solo,
make sure to begin with,
start with one chord.
Again, I'm gonna start on my A minor.
I'm gonna fire up the tempo, and
I'm gonna bring it back up to 120.
So I'm gonna I'm gonna give you
an example of what I'm talking about.
So here's the metronome at 120, and
I'm just going to play some
ideas based on A minor.
And just like
the improvisation 101 lesson,
doing exactly B,
centering on that one chord.
I'm going to be using my arpeggio as my
go to notes, and my scale, chromaticism.
But for this, I'm going to keep it super
simple because we're working on rhythm.
So check this out.
This is what I want you to do.
So I'm trying to keep
it as simple as I can.
But justifying everything I'm playing,
wIth the metronome.
So you've got to be able to hear
it really really well enough, and
just feel the time.
And if you start hearing yourself
get ahead or behind, it's a problem,
but that's what practicing is all about.
So that little thing was sort of a funky
idea in more of a triple kind of a feel.
The other thing you can do when you are
practicing creating other rhythms while
you are playing, obviously is more of
a swing or a shuffle kind of a feel.
So in that case,
the feel is gonna be much more one,
do ba dum de dum, one two three
one two three do do do do do do.
Remember, pardon me,
that it's the subdivisions of
every beat that create the feel.
So, like in Latin music or funky music or
rock music, most of the time you have
dunk, dunk, dunk, dunk or
doople doople doople doople doople.
Now we have triplet triplet,
triplet, triplet, triplet.
But all those dooples,
all the upbeats are subdivisions.
You're gonna feel it inside,
but they're gonna be even.
So, if I play this [SOUND]
dum ba dum ba dum ba dum two.
Okay do this with me, ready?
We're going to play my E.
If you're playing tenor or
soprano play an A.
We're gonna go dum ba dum ba
dum ba dum ba dum ba dum.
One, two.
Good, okay.
Also using a legato tongue,
do da do da do da do.
That's important, because our phrase
will be much more even that way.
So let's do that again okay nice triplet,
triplet ba dum ba dum ba dum one two.
Good okay so do that on your own,
once this lesson is over
okay you can do it with me.
But go ahead and
do that with your metronome.
Let's do some dooples.
same note.
One, two, three.
That's tricky.
I'm gonna bring the temp down a little bit
to 100.
Do do do do, do do do do,
one and two and three, ready.
So try that both doople and
triple in both tempos.
That'll be really helpful.
And then again pick a key
that is familiar to you.
I hate to say that because every
key should be familiar to you.
It's only 12.
I refer to that a lot during this
whole entire school where, you know,
if you're gonna work on one scale,
work on all 12.
It's only 12, it's not like you're
learning French, or anything, so.
And so take this idea and
now you can break it up and
do all kinds of different things.
But just being aware of the rhythm
of your playing opens up
a whole new area of improvisation.
Playing in general, but
improvisation perhaps in particular.
So go for this exercise.
I'd love for you to submit a video so
I can hear you working with metronome and
If you've got a song or
a groove that you're playing over it and
you're not quite sure of about if you
got a track that you can play over it.
Or one of the tracks,
you know, there's a gazillion,
in my school that you could use too.
Record yourself so I can hear your time.
The time is super important.
All the records that I've ever played on,
over all these years, so
often the melodic content is important,
the harmonic content is important,
the rhythmic content is uber important.
So hold on, I'm giving you some good ideas
to work with in improving your rhythm and
look forward to hearing
what you got to play.