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The Concept Of Time In Hawaii

Jody Kruskal

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My Skype student lives in Hawaii. I live in New York City, but no matter. She said that she wanted to get back to basics... teach her some scales that would support her goal... to become free to improvise.


At first I was stumped. We can’t play together because of the slight delay, the latency in the signal. Soon after, I was taken by some amazing guitar playing I heard on the tube. Piedmont finger style boogie woogie guitar rags played with simplicity and authority.


So I ripped the track, tuned it down a bit and slowed the tempo way way down. Now my C/G Anglo student from Hawaii can jam with just a few looped bars in the amazing bluesy key of D7. All at a lazy trot with plenty of empty space to fill in with her attempts at improvisation. No chord progressions, just this slow and sure jumping beat in D. An eight bar slow grind loop that lasts as long as you want. As loops do.


She got the audio file and some tab and dots to show her how to get the groove, find her notes and start to jam “in the harmonic style.”


While I’m waiting to hear back from her to see how it’s going with the lesson, I can’t stop jamming to that loop.


It is so much fun. Now I want to go looking for other classic ragtime guitar players who might be playing something juicy in a key near D7. Chop out a hunk of it, slow it down to make another loop and learn more about another concept of time.


I hope my student finds it as inspiring as I have. But anyone can do this with free or inexpensive computer apps. Find an admirable few measures in some clean and simple example of the music with the groove you like. Make it be in a good key for you, slow it way down, loop a short selection that has the groove and play along. It's like a heavenly click track filled with human intention instead of mechanical rigidity. Repetitive listening to a slowed down loop is like putting a specimen under a microscope. The details come into focus and the artistry of time is revealed.

Edited by Jody Kruskal
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