A few months ago I was lucky enough to have a lesson with the great Ernesto Simpson. Ernesto has mastered the intricacies of odd number groupings and manages to insert them effortlessly into his playing so, rather than sounding like technical trickery, they become another facet to his melodicism. Not an easy task! In the short time we had together he showed me some simple 5 and 7 note stickings played as triplets. The exercise below is based around a 5 note RL RLL sticking played over triplets. Play four bars of time, followed by exercise 1. Repeat for all 6 exercises. In the video below I play through the exercises, followed by an improvisation at 200bpm based around the RL RLL sticking. This one’s tricky so remember to start slow!
Inspired by last week’s Elvin Jones 9 beat phrase lesson, I’ve been working on more ways to master the triplet with odd subdivisions. These odd number phrases have an conventional feel and mastering them can give you lots of new rhythmical options; a technique regularly employed by Elvin.
Below are groups of 7 played as single-stroke rolls. I’m accenting the 1st & 5th note of each group. There are 4 orchestration options then an alternate sticking of RLRL RLL – also with orchestrations.
Here’s another Mastering the Triplet video lesson. This time we’re using Ted Reed’s Syncopation as material to develop our triplet vocabulary. By dividing up the accents into long notes & short notes (explained below) we can open up a whole host of interesting rhythmic and orchestral possibilities. Below are the first 4 lines of page 38 of Syncopation (if you feel this exercise is useful in any way, please go out and buy the book).
- Firstly, reading syncopation as swung, we can play rolling hand-to-hand triplets with the syncopation phrase as accents. (0:47 in the video)
- We want to divide the syncopation phrases into ‘long‘ notes and ‘short‘ notes. Long notes are quarter notes or longer (including ties across the bar). Short notes are all of the eight note accents. (1:13 in the video)
- To orchestrate the phrase we move the right hand long notes onto the ride (with an added kick drum underneath). Keep all of the other notes on the snare (2:15 in the video).
- Now ‘trade 4′s’ with yourself. Play 4 bars of time, followed by 4 bars of rolling triplets with this new orchestration.
- Try your own orchestrations using this method including moving the same right hand long notes accents to the toms.
I’ve had a request in the comments from Ron Chords to write out the beginning of the phrase, so here are the first four bars from page 38 as rolling triplets (from 1:01 in the video).
Having a list of warm-ups that help you flex your muscles both mentally and physically should be the aim for any drummer. Below is a warm-up based on a comping exercise adapted from John Riley’s Beyond Bop Drumming book. I’ve converted the original 4/4 exercise into 5 beat phrases and placed them under a 5/4 swing pattern. Make sure you keep the right hand swinging and play the comping phrases with a mezzo piano dynamic.
Once again today we’re focusing on 5/4, using the invaluable Syncopation book to expand our vocabulary. After working extensively on single stroke rolling triplets, i’ve been keen to try and achieve the same level of comfort in 5/4; all part of my mission to develop as many areas as possible of my odd-time playing. First, convert bars 1-16 of page 38 of Syncopation into 5/4 using the method from this article, then use these new phrases as accents for rolling single stroke triplets. After you’ve become comfortable with this exercise, try moving the accents to the cymbals with kicks added underneath.