Polyrhythm exercise

Here’s a little exercise with triplets and eighth-notes.

The idea is to play this polyrhythm of 3 over 2, and 2 over 3, but I want you to keep swapping the rhythms between the hands. If you’re tapping the rhythms on one surface, then the overall rhythmic sound will be the same when you switch hands.

Feel the rhythm two ways:

  1. with the eighth-notes as being the pulse.
  2. with the triplets as being the pulse.

When you hear the polyrhythm as one sound (a composite rhythm) you can learn it as that sound. You might try saying something like, ‘nice cup of tea’ to the rhythm. If you’ve no idea what I’m on about there, sorry! Have a gander through the archives of Uncle YouTube; perhaps he’ll have something to say about that.

Anyway, if you do know what I’m on about, then try saying, ‘right cup of tea, left cup of tea’, when you switch from the right to the left hand.

Or, ‘right funny men, left funny men’.


Easier, I think. Better?

Now, ‘right to hell, you bugger, left to hell, you bugger’.

You might think this doesn’t apply practically, but you’d be massively wrong. I can think of several occasions I’ve thought ‘three funny men’ and ‘go to hell, you bugger’ whilst playing actual music.

Comments on Polyrhythm exercise

  1. I like ‘Right to hell you bugger’ (4:3 I assume) which I’ve not come across before – although I have seen several 2:3 mnemonics. I am currently working out the (over 9000) 15:10s having done all the earlier symmetrical polyrhythm patterns.
    Keep promoting the polyrhythms, we might see some interesting new music if these ideas spread. Best wishes, Andy

Comments are Closed