Lesson by Ronen Gorden

This lesson uses sixteenth-notes as a template for metric modulation. When getting ready to apply metric modulation, it is imperative to be able to change your perspective as note values change. This exercise helps develop your ability to navigate changes in note value assignments. As most metric modulations are built on various groupings and spacing of notes in a specific subdivision, we will work on playing a recurring and repetitive hand pattern while changing the pattern’s note values and counting methods.

Before diving directly into sixteenth-notes, first build your way up from quarter-notes (Ex. 1). On a practice pad, play a simple three-note grouping of quarter-notes with a sticking of RLL starting in 3/4 (and be sure to count the downbeats out loud).


In Ex. 2, play the same hand pattern using eighth-notes in 3/4 at the same tempo while counting every eighth-note subdivision out loud.


For Ex. 3, play the same hand pattern using sixteenth-notes in 3/4 at the same tempo while counting every sixteenth-note subdivision out loud. For Ex. 4 (which is the same as Ex. 3), set your metronome to 62 bpm.



Next, set your metronome to 125 bpm. The pattern in Ex. 5 shifts into 3/8 where the eighth-note gets the beat and there are three beats to a measure. Your metronome will be playing on every eighth-note down beat (1, 2, 3) and sixteenth-notes are now counted as 1 & 2 & 3 &, and so on.


For Ex. 6, crank your metronome up to 250 bpm. The hand pattern remains the same but is now in the time signature of 3/16, where the sixteenth-note gets the beat: 1, 2, 3.


Once you are comfortable with all of these exercises, you can string them together in

four-bar groupings (Ex. 7). The pattern should sound the same as you switch to the different time signatures. For now, try not to accent any notes, keeping the right hand and left hand sounding even as if you are playing the pattern with one hand. Keeping your metronome on 250 bpm will provide a template of sixteenth-notes that will line up with the hand pattern. The key to this exercise is to make sure that you are counting properly through the time signatures. Having a firm grasp on Ex. 7 will assist you when you encounter metric modulations and tricky ensemble figures.


Finally, in Ex. 8, practice mixing up the counting while applying this lesson’s idea to the drum set with various orchestration textures.



Reverse the sticking and play Ex. 8 as LRR for more possibilities. Try playing these exercises with dynamic shading.

10-Day Metric Modulation Lesson Plan – Day 7