ARTIST FEATURE: Meet Marko Churnchetz (or Marko Crncec, as he is called in his native Slovenia) – a brilliant young jazz pianist living between New York City and Slovenia. Marko is a pianist, percussionist, composer and educator, and also play the bass in his spare time. Let’s see what he has to say about rhythm and time in music!

1) Why is rhythm important?

Rhythm is the primal musical expression. Even before melody or harmony there was rhythm. Everything in nature evolves in perfect rhythm. That is why I believe that in creating music we need to put a big emphasis on strong rhythm. Of course music is a much broader entity, but I believe if a piece does not have strong “time” or a steady, flow it will not touch the audience as much.

2) How do you practice your rhythm and sense of time?

I pick a phrase and then practice it slowly and increasing the tempo when comfortable in the current tempo. Very important aspect is to record yourself playing it for analyzing purposes. It is hard to be critical in the moment and I believe we as musicians should not be critical in the moment of music creation. That’s why the practice is meant! Lately I have been playing a lot of drums. That is a very good exercise for me to work on my rhythm.

Before melody or harmony there was rhythm!

3) What are your favorite rhythmic exercises?

I don’t have favorite ones actually, but few come to mind. Playing lines of a composed piece (they can also be improvised, but needs to be in constructed in decisive, fixed manner) and changing the rhythmic pattern of it. For instance playing Bach’s Preludiums but then playing in groupings of 5 or 7, etc. Another one is more related to us, pianists, which is playing a challenging ostinato line with one hand and then improvising with another and vise versa. Another one is to hit in a fixed rhythmic pattern with one hand and playing the instrument with another one.

4) Can you name one thing that you like about the metronome on Metronome Online?

Its very reachable and always on hand, especially in this era with everyone possessing their smart phones.

VIDEO: Check out Marko’s trio and groove along!