Introduction to polyrhythms (Exercises)

I've noticed a lot of aspiring drummers looking to get into polyrhythms. They can be a tough beast to tackle, I have a system that I use with my students to introduce them to polyrhythms that seems to work pretty well that I thought I would share. I also use these exercises for students just looking to build coordination and the speed of their doubles. These are all around great things to practice!

The way these will help with polyrhythms is once you get into keeping quarter notes on the right hand under the 3/4 pattern between left hand and right foot with enough practice you can start to hear how the two rhythms interact with each other which is a HUGE deal when learning to play polyrhythms. One of the things I tell my students is "If you can't hear it than you can't play it!" Once you start to hear the different rhythms interacting it gets easier to apply them in different ways. If you want to take it to another level try playing the hi-hat on half notes! Notice that in a 4/4 time signature when keeping quarter notes on the right hand the pattern will actually repeat every 3 measures.

This is just an intro idea to this stuff, but the quarter note sections can be very challenging to play if you're familiar with these kinds of patterns.

I hope this is helpful! Check out my website for my (work in progress) drum guide!

www.colin.mccowan.space
 

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Morrisman

Platinum Member
Good exercises, but I'd prefer them to be in 4/4 time, so that you learn how it fits in a normal bar or two. Perhaps two bars of 4/4, stopping with a quarter note on beat 4 of the second bar. This makes it a useful fill or pattern to use in rock and jazz beats, instead of just a polyrhythm exercise.

However, you probably already do that on the next page....
 
I'm going to rewrite them in a 4/4 time, thanks for the advice. I thought presenting them as more of a syncopation exercise in a 6/4 would help new comers understand the concept a bit better but now I realize it may just be more confusing. Thanks for the advice!
 
Good exercises, but I'd prefer them to be in 4/4 time, so that you learn how it fits in a normal bar or two. Perhaps two bars of 4/4, stopping with a quarter note on beat 4 of the second bar. This makes it a useful fill or pattern to use in rock and jazz beats, instead of just a polyrhythm exercise.

However, you probably already do that on the next page....
Check them out now, see if that helps =)
 

vxla

Silver Member
You should really show an example to the reader of how doing these exercises (which are not polyrhythms) will lead to a better understanding of polyrhythms. So, that first one.. you're starting to introduce someone to 4:3. Why not discuss why it's important to start with the pattern and where they'll end up once they get the feel under their hands?
 
This polyrhythm/polymeter distinction seems silly to me, I mean, sure be precise, but it's just a matter of notation, they are really the same thing. These examples look like polyrhythms to me.
 

Morrisman

Platinum Member
Yes I prefer them in 4/4 - much better.
Having three bars is also a good idea, you can follow the pattern all the way back to the downbeat.
 

SmoothOperator

Gold Member
This polyrhythm/polymeter distinction seems silly to me, I mean, sure be precise, but it's just a matter of notation, they are really the same thing. These examples look like polyrhythms to me.
What you say is trivial nonsense, Any rhythm can be notated in any time signature. Would you notate a 4/4 rock beat in 7/8 you could, but really? This is irrelevant.

A real polyrhythm can be heard as more than one rhythm at a time. When you fill in the spaces with linear eights the polyrhythm is more difficult to hear. I personally count the beats for example 12/8, I count to twelve, but sometimes this is not feasible eg the song "four on six", because it would be like 24/8 at 240 bpm.
 

Swiss Matthias

Platinum Member
Polyrhythms are different amounts of notes in the same amount of time
played against each other.

i.e.: 2 eight notes against 3 eight note triplets. The pulse remains the same.

Polymetrics are differently grouped subdivisions, so to speak. They don't
resolve in a very short time, as polyrhythms do, so you can hear them kind
of as two tempos or two pulses at the same time.

i.e.: quarter notes against dotted quarter notes.


Shameless self-advertisement since the topic came up :):

Here's a polymetric example I played and uploaded today:

https://youtu.be/0y_3XE9veuQ

A repetituous hihat pattern with the length of seven 16th notes over a
groove pattern in 12/8.
 

Swiss Matthias

Platinum Member
By the way: Yes, polyrhythmics and -metrics are related. A polymetric pattern
can be turned into a polyrhythmic one if you look at it (or hear it) from a
different perspective.
 
What you say is trivial nonsense, Any rhythm can be notated in any time signature. Would you notate a 4/4 rock beat in 7/8 you could, but really? This is irrelevant.

A real polyrhythm can be heard as more than one rhythm at a time. When you fill in the spaces with linear eights the polyrhythm is more difficult to hear. I personally count the beats for example 12/8, I count to twelve, but sometimes this is not feasible eg the song "four on six", because it would be like 24/8 at 240 bpm.
Well, you'd have to resolve it at some point probably when it switched to a new section. But you could do that, and if you played something that repeated with the 7/8 you'd have a polyrhythm. Sure, it's trivial. Polyrhythms are trivial applications of the least common multiple.
 

SmoothOperator

Gold Member
Well, you'd have to resolve it at some point probably when it switched to a new section. But you could do that, and if you played something that repeated with the 7/8 you'd have a polyrhythm. Sure, it's trivial. Polyrhythms are trivial applications of the least common multiple.
No resolution it would be note for note exactly the same, as the four four transcription just trivially written differently. This is not a poly rhythm.
 
I always just thought of a polyrhythm as two or more time signatures being played over one another... Either way the topic says "INTRODUCTION to polyrhythms"... My intention was to help beginners learn to hear the way the two times play with one another. Did we determine if the transcription's actually are polyrhythmic?
 
It's just a matter of definitions. If you wrote in 3/4 (or 6/4 as before), it would be a polyrhythm but as such it's just a mere "polymeter". It's all the same, though, despite such powerful opposition.
 
It's just a matter of definitions. If you wrote in 3/4 (or 6/4 as before), it would be a polyrhythm but as such it's just a mere "polymeter". It's all the same, though, despite such powerful opposition.
wait wait wait... So in the 6/4 it would be a polyrhythm but in the 4/4 it's "polymetric"? *Head explodes*

I thought it would be the other way around
 
wait wait wait... So in the 6/4 it would be a polyrhythm but in the 4/4 it's "polymetric"? *Head explodes*

I thought it would be the other way around
Yeah, because in 6/4 you have 4*6=24 16th notes, if you divide by 3 you get 24/3 = 8 notes in the space of 6 (quarter notes), that's a polyrhythm. When you write in 4/4, you are basically playing a phrase in 3/something over 4/4, so that's 2 ( whence poly) meters on top of each other, rather than two rhythms of different rates in the same meter. But you are effectively playing the same thing, so the difference is basically perspective.
 
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