ARTIST FEATURE: From flute to bass guitar, from jazz to ambiental, from concert stage to software and UX/UI development – meet Damjan Krajacic, flute player extraordinaire, who just recently came out with a new CD called baCLAVE! We are happy he is able to join us this week!

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

For building a sense of time I like to play music that has a strong sense of pulse and where rhythm is the primary musical element. For me, that has mainly been Afro-Cuban music.  If I play the flute, I try to focus on rhythm first, then melody and then harmony. I try to think as a percussionist or a drummer and really focus on rhythmic placement, variations, and groove. If I want to take it a step further, I’ll pick up a percussion instrument like a cowbell or clave and really try to lock in with the groove. For us non-drummers it is still important to be able to play like drummers. Generally, I prefer to practice time with music rather than just a pulse/metronome. It sinks in better.

2) What are your favorite rhythmic exercises?

I love the polyrhythms of Afro-Cuban music and hearing the overlaying of the different rhythmic patterns. It only really works when everything is locked in and it makes you focus both on your own part in isolation, as well as how it relates to the overall groove. I like playing off-beats only, as well as seeing how I can stretch the beat – play a bit behind it and still make it feel good. More often than not, being “right” rhythmically does not mean playing evenly. It is in fact how we displace those beats that gives the music the correct feel, style, and soul.  Listening to masters of whatever style plays as much of a learning role to me as playing on my own. You absorb the unquantifiable elements of music that way.

More often than not, being “right” rhythmically does not mean playing evenly.

3) What exotic rhythms do you like and what can we learn from it?

Given that the world is more musically connected these days than ever, I am not sure how to define “exotic”! I guess it depends on what the person is familiar with. I would imagine that Balkan music, with its odd rhythms and an uneven pulse, would be exotic to many. It reminds me just how varied musical cultures and styles can be. We have to appreciate the organic, intimate, imperfect and diverse nature of music and art, without judging it by only one set of standards. What is “accurate” in one music is not necessarily so in another.

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

It’s around whenever and wherever I need it!

VIDEO: Here’s a piece called Jovano Jovanke, a traditional piece from the Balkans, as performed on Damjan’s new CD baCLAVE!