“Playing through John Piper's three volumes of The Shapes And Patterns of Music has been like a joy ride. Think of a really wild ride at an amusement park and rename it the “Mallet Twister” and that's exactly where you find yourself, especially in Volume III. Shapes and Patterns will give the mallet player, and especially improvisers, tons of new devices to draw upon...” —MIKE MANIERI
“John Piper’s book, The Shapes and Patterns of Music, is useful on several levels: as a source for endless sight reading challenges, as source material for line ideas and as a springboard for one’s own variations using the written exercises as a starting point. This book is in fact, encyclopedic in what it covers. Useful for all levels.” —DAVID LIEBMAN
The Shapes and Patterns of Music Volume I Treble Clef By John Mark Piper
©Piper’s Loft, Inc 2000 All rights reserved
The concept is designed around three note shapes, continuously modulating up and back in half steps, whole steps, minor thirds, major thirds, fourths and fifths.
By modulating three note shapes and all their inversions, one can eventually cover the entire spectrum of written possibilities in a step-by-step, methodical way. This seems to make connections in the brain which aids in reading as well as aurally and intellectually revealing pathways common in music. One of the problems with finding material to sight read is that it either jumps around too quickly in range of difficulty or it makes no sense and becomes a struggle to drudge through. Because everything in the book is based on Shapes and Patterns, it all makes cohesive since - not necessarily “musical” but it at least makes enough since to be fun and challenging to work through and achieves high results.
While using this book as a sight reading tool, the student is also subliminally increasing his/her musical vocabulary in the following topics: improvisation, melodic expression, modulation, ear training, and rhythmic phrasing. It can also be used as a type of “musical thesaurus” for ideas in composition and improvisation. Page 1 through 49 is a constant “machine gun” of notes with no rests. The exercises are training the eyes to keep track and move while recognizing shapes in different time signatures and phrases. No rests (no math) is taking place. On page 50, one eighth note rest is introduced on beat one and Shapes and Patterns of Music Volume II begins.
Also available: The Shapes and Patterns of Rhythm THE SHAPES AND PATTERNS OF RHYTHM is a handy tool for percussion students, drum set students, teachers and professionals. My objective was to organize rhythms that can then be creatively applied to an endless number of situations in a step by step fashion. Examples for utilizing The Shapes and Patterns of Rhythm The beginning student can use the pages as a step by step reading exercise in conjunction with the method book they are already using. As the student grows, the exercises grow with them. Notice that the concept is to first learn to read and play rests. As the exercises increase, the number of strikes per measure increases. This allows the mind and hands a relatively large space of time during the rests to focus on correct preparation for playing the next note. • I believe that much of the energy and focus while using this book should be devoted to the careful use of space during the rests. Students often relax their attention as if there’s nothing to do during the rests. A drum stick should be prepared for the next attack immediately after its previous one; not just before it’s needed. After all possibilities for a single strike per measure are covered, two strikes per measure are introduced. Exercises 1 through 15 offer every possible position and combination for quarter notes and rests in a 4/4 measure. This teaches the student to calculate the simple quarter note math while training their hands to respond to the commands of the written music. Eighth notes and their rests are then offered in the same way; then triplets, sixteenths and a section on reading rolls. The intermediate and advanced student can use the study for reviewing and strengthening sight reading skills and should also focus on preparation skills. By advancing quickly through the book at a brisk sight reading tempo, the player can usually find weak spots in their reading and/or playing and then refine those skills by slowing the tempo and continuing through the studies more methodically from that point. Beginning drum set students: 1. Play Shapes And Patterns of Rhythm studies on the bass drum while playing the rhythms listed on the next page on the ride cymbal or closed Hi Hat. (As the student advances, the snare drum and Hi Hat can be added to play on two and four.) 2. Play Shapes And Patterns of Rhythm studies on the snare drum while playing the rhythms listed on the next page on the ride cymbal or closed Hi Hat. (As the student advances, the Hi Hat can be added to play on two and four and the bass drum can be added to play on beats one and three.) 3. Play Shapes And Patterns of Rhythm studies on the hi hat (with foot) while playing the rhythms listed on the next page on the ride cymbal. (As the student advances, the snare drum can be added to play on two and four.) The triplet section of the book (pages 29 through 48) lends itself very well to the study of jazz and modern swing feels. I also like to use the eight note studies (pages 4 through 28) in a swing eighth note fashion, treating the written rhythms as “kicks” and play drum “fills” during the rests. Please note that these are the most obvious suggestions and the student and teacher should be creative in combining their own ideas to prescribe lessons that fit their needs. The Shapes and Patterns of Rhythm is tool to help eliminate gaps in a player’s ability and spawn new ideas for freedom in creative performance.