All That Jazz: Hitting the Pocket — The Importance of Dynamics and Grooving When Soloing

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The following content is related to the July 2013 issue of Guitar World. For the full range of interviews, features, tabs and more, pick up the new issue on newsstands now, or in our online store.

Two of the most important and effective elements in creating expressive improvisations are the incorporation of dynamics and groove. Dynamics—the use of variations in volume and articulation that can span from quiet, delicate and gentle to loud, forceful and aggressive—and groove—the way in which a player chooses to place the notes against the backbeat—are both key aspects of musicality that come into play.

Awareness of one’s rhythmic pacing, or time, and the way in which it connects with a rhythm section is among the most important aspects of ensemble playing. It’s very beneficial to record yourself both when practicing and when playing with other musicians. When you listen back, you’ll be able to listen more objectively and hear if you’re playing in the pocket or if you’re rushing or slowing down, and this will serve to heighten your awareness to your groove overall.