Hear how jazz drummers find melody in rhythm

The latest episode of ‘Jazz Nights in America’ demonstrates how jazz drummers keep time while playing melodies.

NPR, Jazz at Lincoln Center, and public radio station WBGO have premiered a new episode of Jazz Nights in America, “More Than Keeping Time.” It’s a primer on the intricate art of jazz drumming, with composer and bandleader Allison Miller in the hot seat.

Over the episode’s five minutes, Miller presents a quick demonstration of ‘melodic drumming,’ or how jazz drummers work melody and rhythm into one cogent whole—while still keeping time. She uses the Duke Ellington standard “It Don’t Mean a Thing” as a reference point, extracting the piece’s main melodic line and transposing it, with pitches, onto her kit.

The episode isn’t so much of a masterclass as it is an ‘Explainer’-style introduction. So even if you don’t bang the drums, it’s worth the watch. Check it out here:


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