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Rhythms of Prog



Polyrhythms #2

   Our previous lesson on Polyrhythms got into quite a bit of technical detail. Our purpose in doing this was to give you a firm understanding of what's happening in a Polyrhythm. As in many of the lessons here, what I'm trying to do is to get you to think for yourself and develop your own exercises, rather than just giving you some cool licks to cop. (The other goal is to help you develop your technique so you can be more versatile.)

   This lesson is going to be quicker than the previous Poyrhythm lesson; I'm going to give you further examples of how Ployrhythms work, and I'm going to suggest how to further develop your own Polyrhythms using basic Rudiments.

The Concept

   We can take Polyrhythms to extremes if we want to; sometimes these rhythms we develop may not work in our current band context, but they can help us further hone our skills as a drummer and sharpen our thinking. Who knows, maybe some day you can throw one of these in as a rhythm on some original song, or as a fill.

   The notation on the following exercises seems to imply that they are to be played on the snare and floor tom; play them just on the snare - they are written out this way for clarity.


    Exercise #1


   This rather slippery little rhythm is a cleveryly disguised melding of 3/4 and 4/4. The top line is 3/4, and the bottom is 4/4. It is notated in 3/4, but it can also be notated in 4/4 - can you figure out how to do this? Start slow, get fast, slow down.

   When you have mastered this, switch hands (3/4 with the right hand, 4/4 the left):

   Do this while watching your hands, and while not watching your hands. Which is easier? Why?

    Exercise #2

   Here's one that will drive you crazy. The right hand is playing the "4/4" line, as in the first staff above. But, rather than just playing quarter notes with the right hand, we're playing three notes. Please note that eighth notes and sixteenth notes, especially in the top line. I could have thrown in a sixteenth rest there, but I wanted to see if you could catch the eighth note.

   I find this alot easier to play if I don't watch my hands! Here's the alternate sticking:

   This may sound pretty typical just on the snare, so try it on a tom and snare. Woa! You'll find it harder to do at first. This would make an excellent exercise around the kit.

    Exercise #3

   Here's our old friend the Paradiddle. Remember the Paradiddle?

   And here's another old friend, the Double Paradiddle:

   Now, here's why I wrote these both out: what I'm going to do here is put the Paradiddle in the right hand, and the Double Paradiddle in the left hand:

   Now, don't let all that confuse you - just read the music as written and play it through. You'll see that everything resolves itself after six measures and it all starts over again.

   Here's the alternate sticking (the Paradiddle is in the left hand, the Double in the right):


   Does this have any application to the real world? Yes and no. You probably won't be using any of these playing "Proud Mary" or "Drive" at your next gig. However, you will find that your independence dramatically improved over time, and that will just make you a better drummer!

   Grab yourself some staff paper and start combining other common Rudiments. There's no limits, really. If you find this too easy, then add your kick foot doing a third Rudiment!

   As always, let me know how you've done!

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