Saturday, July 31, 2021

Quintuplets from normal rhythms

The question of odd tuplets came up in conversation with a student recently, and again when I was working on a Jack Dejohnette transcription, where he was playing some 8th note quintuplets in cut time. In college I spent a lot of time working on this topic, via Frank Zappa's music, and Gary Chaffee's Patterns series of books— mainly volumes I and II. The whole area proved to be mostly* useless in real life— if you're not playing them fast, they just sound wrong. I'm talking about playing drumset, where you're usually interpreting a chart or improvising.  

* - Topic for another time. 

An area that is worth exploring is to make an odd tuplet by manipulating a more normal rhythm— usually by evening it out. I believe this is where a lot of naturally occurring tuplets come from— often just from sloppy or deliberately loose execution. See the Mark Beecher video here for one example of that. 

So here are some exercises for exploring that on the drum set— turning a normal rhythm into quintuplets: 

Play one line at a time, maybe either A B C, or A C B C. Set your metronome for half notes at your desired tempo. It's up to you how precise you want to get with the execution of your 5s. Unless you're playing a composed part, no one's going to come checking that your 5s for precise accuracy. We're just learning to push rhythm around a little bit while maintaining the overall groove. 

Try a few different stickings: 

  1. Alternating
  2. RH on cym / LH on snare
  3. Alternating, except with a double on the triplet— either RRL or RLL
  4. Alternating, except beats 1 and 2 will always be the RH— that's beats 1 and 3 if you count the measures in 4/4. 

Use all of the stickings you used on the A/B measures with the C measure.

At first play the regular 8th notes straight, but you could also swing them, for a fuller exploration of the interpretive possibilities. A logical progression would be to start out playing them swung, then straight, then as quintuplets.   

Get the pdf

No comments: