FROM DRUM! MAGAZINE’S MARCH 2018 ISSUE | BY MUSICIANS INSTITUTE DRUM PROGRAM FACULTY
DAY 4 – THE HALF-NOTE TRIPLET ILLUSION
Lesson by Albe Bonacci
Day 4 continues with the use of triplet eighth-notes as a vehicle to imply a metric modulation or actually modulate to a new tempo and feel. Now that we are comfortable with feeling triplet eighth-notes in groupings of four, we can expand on this concept. As a reminder, in Ex. 1, our basic accent pattern starts with an accent on the very first triplet followed by every fourth triplet getting an accent with the hands playing hand-to-hand (RLRL) sticking.
This accent pattern is a perfect way to produce a half-note triplet as seen in Ex. 2. The next step is to shift our accent over by one eighth-note to start on the second note of the pattern. This shifts the entire sequence of accents over by one eighth-note triplet. We can continue this shifting motion to create four different versions of essentially the same pattern (Exs. 3 through 6). It is essential to tap your foot underneath these patterns in order to maintain awareness of the downbeats.
These four permutations can then be orchestrated on the drum set to create “implied half-note triplet modulation” over an existing 4/4 groove (Exs. 7 through 10). Start at 105 bpm and be sure to maintain counting in 4/4 at 105 bpm while playing the third and fourth bar of each example. Don’t fall for your illusion!
Once you are able to toggle smoothly between bars one and two to bars three and four, the next step (Ex. 11) is to move away from superimposing the half-note triplet and use this as a way to modulate to a new tempo and feel. In this case you are modulating from 105 bpm in 4/4, changing the value of the half-note triplet to become, or assume the role of, quarter-notes at 80 bpm. Once the modulation has been made, you can slide into a straight eighth rock feel by adding eighth-notes on the ride or hi-hat.
Orchestrate. Alter the orchestration to create new illusions. Speed it up. Don’t be afraid to explore this at faster tempos.