Triplets are, for the beginning drummer, simply giving three equals beats to the value of a single beat in a measure. That's probably a bad way of saying it, so I'll show you how it works:
In the following measure, each quarter note gets one beat.
This is counted 1, 2, 3, 4. Simple? You bet. It was your first real drum lesson.
In the triplet, each note now gets three beats, instead of just one. This looks like this:
So for each beat in the first example that only got one stroke, now give each beat three stokes. Congratulations; you've played a triplet!
Well, this probably bores the intermediate and advanced drummers. But, what we're going to do here is use the triplet around the drum set, incorporating the feet. It's a pretty common rhythmic device - you've heard Dave Weckl play it (he's the Triplet King), as well as others. It adds a great deal of flair and sophistication to your rhythmic palette, so it's a good thing to know.
The concept here is simple: adding fluidity and variety to your drumming. It's taking the simple triplet and expanding it into a rather impressive series of rhythmic devices. These exercises are meant as a starting point: your should develop your own triplet style. The mechanics are simple - the variations are literally endless.
Let's start with the basic "tom/bass" triplet (don't worry about the snare - we'll add that later). Right hand plays the right tom, left the left tom, bass drum finishes the pattern. Start slow and build up speed. The object here is to make this sound as smooth as possible. (It's great for those "blood and guts" endings - you can do this for days.)
It's easy to play fast and loud. Try playing fast and quiet.
Here's one way of getting out of an endless "triplet loop." Put a snare hit at the end. Or, you could hit a cymbal with the bass drum. Practicing endings for these is also important, as is working them smoothly into fills (and coming out again!).
The following pattern is a variation on the triplet for the double-bass drummer (it's not really a triplet, per se). You're adding a left-foot kick (this sets up some later exercises). This one really sounds smooth when it's mastered!
Now we're going to take the basic triplet above and mess around with the sticking. It's important to practice each of these measures seperately. Once you have mastered each measure, take that repeat sign out of the middle and do them back-to-back! No hate mail, please!
The following one flips the sticking around a bit. Again, when you have mastered each individual measure, take the repeat sign out!
This little exercise should drive you crazy. Great for independence.
Let's go back to that little exercise at the end of #1. You should be great at this one by now!
This is basically what we did in Exercise #2, except we're now using double kicks.
How about double-strokes with the sticks? To really jazz it up, use both feet. I won't develop this one any further - see what variations you can come up with.
This is something a fellow taught me a few years back. It sounds really neat when thrown in at the end of a regular fill. Your bass player will give you a rather astonished look. Dig it.
Here's the same thing leading with the left hand:
Lets' combine the two stickings into what appears to be a rather mind-numbing exercise. It's not as difficult as it looks.
Change the foot pattern around a bit and try the sticking variations used above. You should be able to figure out the other patterns by yourself.
Now that you've figured out the forward "triplet-roll", let's reverse it. This is something I've become quite fond of, and I'm going to share it with you. This really spices things up.
This is a variation. try making up your own stickings, including crossing your hands!
You're probably wondering, "How would I apply this?" Well, take your tip from John Bonham. This is the essence of the closing fill from Led Zeppelin's "Rock and Roll" (he has more than 4 forward triplet-rolls before the backwards triplet-roll, and adds another forward triplet-roll at the end to finish it, but you get the idea). Try to combine forward and backwards triplet-rolls in the same phrase.
The clever ones out there have probably noticed that the latter patterns weren't true triplets, and what I call a "triplet-roll" really isn't a triplet. But, the feel is the same, and the idea should be transferrable. So, if you're thinking of e-mailing me to tell me I've erred, well, there's no point, is there?
This little pattern can be a tremendous addition to your arsenal. Most drummers know how to do the forward triplet-roll with standard sticking. I've included the wierd sticking to get you to break out of the corner you've drummed yourself into. There's so much more we can do with these. Maybe future Triplet Exercises will delve into some of the more schizophrenic stickings!
As always, let me know how you've done!