In order to play “Off” the beat you must first establish the “On” beat. This way you can anticipate or push the music/melody/riff or motif along and then return to the established “On” beat.
When beat one is established we can then push any beat from there on. The key is then to return to the “On” beat to start the next phrase or vamp or piece of music.
If you play “Off” the beat continuously the syncopation/anticipation will be lost.
In order to fully comprehend off-beat playing it is an extremely good idea to learn and practice the two most common essential rhythms in every way possible, both in the bar and across the bar line. But, always coming back to the “On” beat for the start of the new phrase.
You can change the harmonic rhythm or join the rhythms together and create vamps or phrases.
Mixing Both Rhythms Together:
Now we will add a bass push/anticipation: [Notice the BASS note is “Tied” across the bar line].
In this example we will add a short “Melody” to a chord:
Here are a set of variations on a chord change:
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Today we will look at a John Mclaughlin alternate picking Jazz/Fusion improvisation cadence employing the altered dominant chord! Please watch the video below and then try it out yourself.
As you will see this cadence employs the Altered scale. It is a 2 [minor 7 flat 5] going to 5 [ “Altered Dominant”] 1 [major 7th]. This being Dm7 flat 5 G7 altered resolving to C major7.
I also employ a flat 5 substitution on the Dm7 flat 5. All of this resolves though and slips nicely into the altered dominant 5 chord. I also use pentatonics within the altered scale for rhythmic flow. Please look at the TAB/MUSIC below and play through it yourself to see and feel how it all “Naturally” unfolds. I employ alternate picking the same as John Mclaughlin.
John Mclaughlin alternate picking altered scale line Music/Tab
VARIATION With an A flat Pentatonic shape replacing A flat minor/Major Arpeggio for the flat 5 substitution.