Etude 32-Polyrhythm Study: Five-Note Pattern Within Triplets

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This etude is demonstrates some of the concepts from my eBook, Rhythmic Dissonance: Exercises to Improve Time, Feel and Conception. Take a look at the example below:

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This is a very simple melodic pattern (secondary triads from a C major scale) that is organized into five-note groups in which the starting note of each group is also the ending note: 1, 3, 5, 3, 1; 2, 4, 6, 4, 2, etc. (I’ve put in accents to help you more readily see the pattern). The challenge is to play this pattern with the metronome clicking in 4/4. Because of the melodic shape of the pattern, the temptation will be to perceive the pulse on the accents  of the pattern, rather than on the actual downbeats. Once you can play this pattern with accuracy, ease and confidence (knowing where the downbeats are), move on to the next variation, in which I take this same pattern, but alter it by eliminating pitches (but still keeping it within the contour and feel of the five-note pattern:

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I continue this to make two more variations of this pattern. The overall rhythmic tension here is the feeling of a quintuplet moving within a triplet, placed over the pulse of a quarter note. I recommend that you are able to play all versions of this pattern with the metronome clicking on each quarter note (with the accent on beat one), until you can play with complete confidence. Then, set the click on beats one and three. If you master this, go on to the ultimate challenge of setting the metronome only on beat one. (And, of course, feel free to put this pattern in different keys, if you like.)

By practicing this way, you will significantly improve your sense of time, as well as open up many more rhythmic possibilities as you improvise. If you’d like to explore more with time and rhythm in jazz improvisation, you might also be interested in another one of my eBooks, Essential Polymeter Studies in 4/4 for the Improvising Musician. Click Below to get a free pdf of this etude, and to hear a midi sample of it:

Quintuplet Pattern Within Triplets -pdf

Quintuplet Patttern Within Triplets-midi