The Dilla Feel, Part IV: The Application (“Philodendron & Pothos” Lo-fi Hip-hop Beat)

This post is part of a 4-part series on the rhythmic style of J Dilla.
Part I: (History) · Part II (Theory) · Part III (Grooves) · Part IV (Application)


So far I’ve been discussing some of the advanced rhythmic concepts found in the work of Dilla and other hip-hop, neo-soul, and jazz musicians. To try some of this stuff out, I decided to make my own lo-fi hop-hop beat.

Continue reading “The Dilla Feel, Part IV: The Application (“Philodendron & Pothos” Lo-fi Hip-hop Beat)”

The Dilla Feel, Part III: The Grooves (Real-World Examples and Dilla’s Influence)

This post is part of a 4-part series on the rhythmic style of J Dilla.
Part I: (History) · Part II (Theory) · Part III (Grooves) · Part IV (Application)


In this post I want to take a look at some transcriptions of Dilla feels found in the wild to break down what they’re doing.

The transcription methodology for these tunes was to pick a four bar section where the beat is clearly audible and align it to a beat grid in Ableton. I then recreated the grooves on separate tracks by looking at the waveform to determine where individual hits occurred. When the waveform was unclear, I placed a sample in the approximate location and then adjusted it until it no longer made an audible flam against the track. For some of the songs with sampled drums, I isolated the samples and aligned them via phase cancellation.

This post includes screenshots of the Ableton live sessions and standard notation for each tune. For the standard notation, I focused on creating intuitive and easily digestible summaries of the grooves rather than notate them literally. I experimented with a couple different approaches for notating subdivisions and microtime including written descriptions, approximating to the nearest subdivision, and using special symbols to mark when notes fall behind/ahead of the written beat.

Continue reading “The Dilla Feel, Part III: The Grooves (Real-World Examples and Dilla’s Influence)”

The Dilla Feel, Part II: The Theory (Quintuplet Swing, Septuplet Swing, and Playing “Off-The-Grid”)

This post is part of a 4-part series on the rhythmic style of J Dilla.
Part I: (History) · Part II (Theory) · Part III (Grooves) · Part IV (Application)


Subdivision and Swing

Swing refers to a type of rhythm where alternating subdivisions are given unequal durations, creating a long-short-long-short pattern. In jazz it’s typical for 8th notes to be swung and rock and hip-hop sometimes feature swung 16th notes. The most common type of swing is a triplet swing in which the first note has twice the length of the second note. It is often notated like this:

Continue reading “The Dilla Feel, Part II: The Theory (Quintuplet Swing, Septuplet Swing, and Playing “Off-The-Grid”)”

The Dilla Feel, Part I: The History (J Dilla and The Soulquarians)

This post is part of a 4-part series on the rhythmic style of J Dilla.
Part I: (History) · Part II (Theory) · Part III (Grooves) · Part IV (Application)


The Dilla feel has its origins in the late 90s with the legendary hip-hop producer J Dilla and the neo-soul/RnB/hip-hop collective The Soulquarians.

Continue reading “The Dilla Feel, Part I: The History (J Dilla and The Soulquarians)”

Fleet Foxes – Montezuma

Key: C

Intro

  I
| - - - - | - - - - | - - - - | - - - - |

The first two bars only have the root and fifth. Then the third is introduced in the third bar. There is also a little 4-5 hammer-on bit that happens at the end of every second measure.

Verse

  I         V9  I     Imaj7(6)  ii(6)
| - - - - | - - - - | - - - - | - - - - |

  iii       ii        V   IV    V   Vadd6 V7
| - - - - | - - - - | - - - - | - - - - | - - - - |

The voicings and parallel movement of chords are important to the feel of this song. These are the guitar chords:

 

Montezuma Guitar Chords

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Father John Misty – Strange Encounter

Key: D
Note: This song could also be analyzed in B minor.

Intro/Verse

  vi        vimM9     I         V9/V
| - - - - | - - - - | - - - - | - - - - |

Bass does a 6-b6-5-#4 chromatic descent under these chords.

Pre-Chorus

  IVmaj9    I         V9 
| - - - - | - - - - | - - - - | - - - - | x2

  V9                  IVmaj7
| - - - - | - - - - | - - - - |

Chorus

  I         Iadd6     Imaj7     Imaj9add6
| - - - - | - - - - | - - - - | - - - - |

  IVmaj7              V7b9/vi   I
| - - - - | - - - - | - - - - | - - |

  IVmaj7              V7b9/vi  
| - - - - | - - - - | - - - - | - - - - |

Father John Misty – Nancy From Now On

Key: F

Note: The guitar mostly plays triads and sometimes 7ths. The upper extensions occur primarily in the backing voices.

Intro

  I
| - - - - | - - - - | - - - - | - - - - |

Verse

  I         Iadd6     Imaj7     Imaj7add6
| - - - - | - - - - | - - - - | - - - - |

  V9/V                V9
| - - - - | - - - - | - - - - | - - - - |

  vi7                 V9/V
| - - - - | - - - - | - - - - | - - - - |

  V9
| - - - - | - - - - | - - - - | - - - - |

  I
| - - - - | - - - - |

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