FROM DRUM! MAGAZINE’S MARCH 2018 ISSUE | BY MUSICIANS INSTITUTE DRUM PROGRAM FACULTY
DAY 3 – REGROUPING TRIPLETS
Lesson by Gianluca Palmieri
This lesson presents a study in utilizing the eighth-note triplet as a vehicle for implied or actual metric modulation. Triplets are produced when a note is divided into three equal parts. Therefore, a triplet occupies the same rhythmic space normally occupied by two notes of equal value. Triplets can be applied to any rhythmic value but the most common usage of triplets is with eighth-notes. The eighth-note triplet is the rhythmic basis for swing and shuffle feels. Triplets are generally grouped in convenient packages of three, as seen in Ex. 1.
The most common sticking for triplets is hand-to-hand leading with the right hand (Ex. 2). Add accents on the downbeats (Ex. 3). Simple enough.
The next step toward using eighth-note triplets for modulation purposes is to change the common groupings of three into more complex groupings of four. One way to accomplish this is to accent every other right-hand stroke (Ex. 4).
To maintain your downbeats, try playing quarter-notes on the bass drum and hi-hat with your feet under these triplet groupings (Ex. 5).
Ex. 6 puts this in a more musical context. Play two bars of a shuffle feel followed by two bars of eighth-note triplets in groupings of four at 110 bpm and loop the bars.
To use this concept as a way to modulate, orchestrate the triplet groupings of four in a manner that can allude to common grouping of sixteenth-notes (four to a beat). One method, shown in Ex. 7, is to place the accents on crash cymbals supported by the bass drum.
This orchestrated example can be used for an actual time and feel change from a shuffle feel to a medium funk groove. This modulation will take the shuffle feel at 110 bpm and slow it down to sixteenth-based funk at 83 bpm. This change is indicated by showing that the swung eighth-note triplets are now modulating into sixteenth-notes (Ex. 8).
Try playing flams between two playing surfaces on the accents. Lengthen the modulation vehicle. Before modulating to sixteenth-notes try playing the triplet figure over four, eight, or 16 bars.