Topic: Polyrhythms  (Read 3636 times)

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« on: March 13, 2002, 03:04 AM »
Broad topic- easy question.

I found out this morning I am having a hard time with an easy figure...eighth notes on the rh...1/4 note trips on the left.  It's embarrassing.  I have the click on and am switching between the two subdivisions with the greatest of ease only when I play them together if my rh stays on the eighths my left will play dotted eights and if I make the 1/4 note trips with my left my right hand starts's awful.

I have to get this pattern down before I add my feet which will be a 5 pattern...I don't have problems playing the 8th notes with the 5's on the floor.

I have this pattern notated I believe from Joel Rothman's Mini Monster Rock N' Roll book or something.  Let me look this's been awhile.  I'll post this info. if it's relevant.  Well, off to the woodshed.


PS-  Bart, you don't have to kill yourself with an explanation if you get around to it.  I know you are busy.


 ;D  Well, I found the exercise only I learned to count it "123 456 789 10 11 12...while I accent the the "1" "5" and "9" with the left while playing the eighth notes like you said and treated the whole thing like 12/8's a breeze that way....until things get fast...then I wanna get "wide" here and there.  Also substituted kick for left hand and then syncopated the two.  Then I managed to play the 5's in between the 8th notes to make "10's" on the kick- weird, not tough but too blurry at faster tempos...I'll work on the 5's.  Thanks again.

Offline Bart Elliott

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Re: Polyrhythms
« Reply #1 on: March 13, 2002, 11:50 AM »
I'm assuming you are just wanting me to help with the hand parts right?  Straight eighth-notes in the right hand, quarter-note triplets in the left.

As with all polyrhythms, the thing you want to do is to find the common denominator between the two parts. To do this, we have to begin by sub-dividing each part.

To cut to the chase, let me just tell you what that common denominator is, and then show you how the parts line up.


If you were playing eighth-note triplets in the left hand, we would only have to count out eighth-note triplets to figure this out. But ... alas ... you are trying to make things difficult aren't you? LOL  Actually, it's very easy as you'll see.

Write out a full bar of sixteenth-note triplets in 4/4. I'll use the Eastman Counting System to demonstrate this; you can use whatever method you want.

1 ta la ta li ta  2 ta la ta li ta  3 ta la ta li ta  4 ta la ta li ta

If you are writing this out on a piece of paper, some how notate where the right hand would play. The right hand is playing STRAIGHT eighth-notes, which means that it would land on every third note of the sixteenth-note triplet. Look again as I notate this with a bold marking on the count that the right hand lands on.

1 ta la ta li ta  2 ta la ta li ta  3 ta la ta li ta  4 ta la ta li ta

Next we have to figure out which count the left hand part will land on as it plays quarter-note triplets. NOTE: You can only play 2 sets of quarter-note triplets per 4/4 bar. That means the left hand will sound 6 times per bar. To spread this out evenly over the sixteenth-note triplets, the quarter-note triplet figure would land on every fourth sixteenth note. I'll notate the left hand part with the color red.

1 ta la ta li ta  2 ta la ta li ta  3 ta la ta li ta  4 ta la ta li ta

Now ... let's combine the right and left hands together.

1 ta la ta li ta  2 ta la ta li ta  3 ta la ta li ta  4 ta la ta li ta

I highly recommend that you work out each hand individually, thinking in sixteenth-note triplets ... and be able to count it out loud ... BEFORE ... actually attempting to play it. You success rate will be a lot faster if you do this. If you don't want to use the Eastman Counting System, you could just use numbers or actually write out sixteenth-note triplets. I was going to notate it for you, but feel that it's best to be able to count this stuff out first ... so naturally, music notation isn't going to help with that like counting or sounding it out with your voice.

As with everything ... start VERY SLOW and gradually work up your speed. Once you get the muscle memory down, the rest will be a cake walk.

Let me know how this works for you ... and enjoy!


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