Jazz 8th Note Triplet Comping

Mr Farkle

Active member
Hi! I'm new to the forum. Old drummer but somewhat new to jazz which brings me to my question...

If 8th note triplets should align with the ride pattern do you adjust your triplet timing based on your swing? In that case you wouldn't really be playing triplets unless you swing really close to straight triplet. Not that swing is science, but I assumed that 8th note triplets should be evenly spaced between quarters. Maybe I'm too straight beat trained and not realizing that triplets should swing too? I notice this most when comping the third triplet on 2 and 4 - see below. I'm flamming those and working on tightening them up, assuming that's the right thing to do.

I hope this makes sense. Thanks for any advice!

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Bonzo_CR

Silver Member
Not sure whether it's right or wrong, but I play that note as a unison - no flams between ride and snare.

Maybe my swing is too triplet-y, haha.
 
It's always good to avoid unwanted flaming, and though I'm not a professor for jazz drums, I would agree that they should line up in order not to sound sloppy.
The whole question doesn't really make sence though. To swing or not to swing is mainly a matter of dynamic phrasing, not of rhythmic modulation. You can play perfect triplets, and it still swings as hell.

Plus, there are many great jazz drummers out there, and each has a slightly different approach. Think of Elvin Jones, whose ride patterns had an accent on the last triplet note:
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These phrasings make normal triplets a swing feel.
 

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Mr Farkle

Active member
The whole question doesn't really make sence though. To swing or not to swing is mainly a matter of dynamic phrasing, not of rhythmic modulation. You can play perfect triplets, and it still swings as hell.
Ah. When thinking about swing I was mistakenly linking swing directly with the timing of the skip note. Thanks for your explanation. That really helped me!

Swing issues aside, I'm still wondering how to handle the timing of comping triplets if I adjust the timing of the ride skip note (the last triplet note). Maybe comping triplets are not necessarily evenly spaced between 1/4 notes. I might be stuck in straight time thinking or just making it too complicated.
 

MrPockets

Gold Member
Swing issues aside, I'm still wondering how to handle the timing of comping triplets if I adjust the timing of the ride skip note (the last triplet note). Maybe comping triplets are not necessarily evenly spaced between 1/4 notes. I might be stuck in straight time thinking or just making it too complicated.
You right and left hand should be perfectly in sync.
 

Odd-Arne Oseberg

Platinum Member
Definetly work to get it tight and rhytmically precise.

It will not hurt your ability to play intentionally "sloppy". It will help, as you'll be more aware and have the skill to do whatever you want.

Before going crazy with the independece stuff I'd probably take a look at Ed Sophs, Jim Blackley's and John Riley's stuff. Listen a lot and get lessons with some jazz drummers. A static ride pattern and some comping exercises don't really give the whole picture.
 

Alex Sanguinetti

Silver Member
A static ride pattern and some comping exercises don't really give the whole picture.
What you mention is for a more advanced player (a "non static" ride) but unless you´ve got a good comand of the regular cymbal jazz beat "against" any kind of variation with snare, bass drum AND hi-hat you don´t have enough ground to develop to the "next level".

Remember, all the guys, including Riley and Soph studied with Chapin´s book, it still invaluable... (oh, by the way, to me it is crazy that TODAY Chapin is remembered/known because of Moeller, and stuff like that).

Another thing, I think the original poster does not have together music theory and also jazz concepts even at beginner level, the opening question, like many at the forum is bizarre, is like a contradiction in itself... You can see that at comment 4 of this thread he STILL didn´t get it:
Swing issues aside, I'm still wondering how to handle the timing of comping triplets if I adjust the timing of the ride skip note (the last triplet note). Maybe comping triplets are not necessarily evenly spaced between 1/4 notes. I might be stuck in straight time thinking or just making it too complicated.
Everyday is harder to answer to questions at the forum because it seems to me that every year the theory side of music gets weaker and weaker...
 
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brentcn

Platinum Member
I notice this most when comping the third triplet on 2 and 4 - see below. I'm flamming those and working on tightening them up, assuming that's the right thing to do.
Do not flam; play the ride and snare in unison, cleanly. Everything should be played here as plain, even triplets. No need to adjust the spacing, or slide any notes around.
 

8Mile

Platinum Member
It sounds like (correct me if I'm wrong) you're asking how to comp left-hand triplets against a ride pattern that is "in the cracks" between straight and swung. There are no rules for this stuff, but when I think of drummers who play that type of feel, they aren't usually comping triplet-y stuff. The comping has to fit the overall feel.
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
It sounds like (correct me if I'm wrong) you're asking how to comp left-hand triplets against a ride pattern that is "in the cracks" between straight and swung. There are no rules for this stuff, but when I think of drummers who play that type of feel, they aren't usually comping triplet-y stuff. The comping has to fit the overall feel.
Very true. If and when you do play triplets, they are played evenly, and not with any modification to the spacing. After the triplets have been played, then you can go back to your "in the cracks" feel.
 

Mr Farkle

Active member
This is why I joined the forum. Thank you all for helping me get my head around this apparently basic concept. It’s true that I’m just beginning to learn theory. I’ve played by ear and by copying other drummers but never took the time to understand what I was doing. I’m working on that now.
 

Mr Farkle

Active member
Very true. If and when you do play triplets, they are played evenly, and not with any modification to the spacing. After the triplets have been played, then you can go back to your "in the cracks" feel.
This was the answer I needed to hear. Thank you. I don’t really play “in the cracks” ride but was trying to understand how that playing would affect triplets. I’m not that advanced but it helps me to understand the concept.
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
This was the answer I needed to hear. Thank you. I don’t really play “in the cracks” ride but was trying to understand how that playing would affect triplets. I’m not that advanced but it helps me to understand the concept.
No problem!

In your defense, the literature on jazz drumming doesn't spell this particular thing out real well. You have to remember, the drum set is not that old, and the authors, great musicians though they are, are not Nobel laureates. Most of the authors also assumed that their books would be studied in the context of lessons. Self-study wasn't a thing to even consider.
 

Mr Farkle

Active member
Most of the authors also assumed that their books would be studied in the context of lessons. Self-study wasn't a thing to even consider.
Sometime ago I did realize that I was getting stuck in multiple areas and needed to work with an instructor. I don't get to see him as often as I would like so I'm also working through some things on my own while trying to not get too lost or too far ahead. I just spent the last two years correcting bad hand technique and working on developing clean doubles. That was long and painful process so now I'm on guard to avoid picking up new bad habits.
 

Morrisman

Platinum Member
When I was studying jazz as a horn player, the consensus was to play eighths as 2/3 + 1/3 at slow to medium tempos, shifting towards even eighths at really fast tempos. As a drummer this has intrigued me, but at really fast tempos you’re unlikely to play triplets anyway, so maybe it sorts itself out.
 

SmoothOperator

Gold Member
That looks like a straight triplet feel, but there are ways to play around with it. You can play it with an up beat, like the reggae stride, emphasizing "and a" or you can split up and emphasize the "Y" "A" eg "2 Y an A". Thomas Howie, used to have a set of patterns to develop this kind of independence against a swing, though there are different notations to indicate that is what is needed, eg they will tie the note one way or another. You could also ghost them as a quintuplet feel, if the beat is divided 12345, and the swing pattern is 1----1--4-, then you can play them on the 2nd and third subdivisions. Happens a lot in swing.
 

Mr Farkle

Active member
FYI This question came up because I am working through The Art of Bop Drumming (currently the Comp Example 2). I sensed that I was flamming the third triplet once in a while but couldn’t always hear it. I moved the ride pattern to the snare and instantly realized that I was flamming those every single time. I’m now working that out on a practice pad and on the snare when on the kit. With both hands on the same surface even the slightest flam is very obvious. Maybe that’s obvious but I’m newbie working it out.
 

ineedaclutch

Platinum Member
Definitely find a qualified instructor if possible. Are you having problems keeping the "jazz" ride pattern going while doing the comp examples? If you are may I suggest going back to p9 where you are given 8 basic examples of what you may be able to do with the left hand, while still keeping the other limbs involved. If you are not used to playing or listening to jazz, as you consider yourself straight beat trained, it would help to go over these to hear what things can sound like while playing time, and get them into your brain.
 

Mr Farkle

Active member
Definitely find a qualified instructor if possible. Are you having problems keeping the "jazz" ride pattern going while doing the comp examples? If you are may I suggest going back to p9 where you are given 8 basic examples of what you may be able to do with the left hand, while still keeping the other limbs involved. If you are not used to playing or listening to jazz, as you consider yourself straight beat trained, it would help to go over these to hear what things can sound like while playing time, and get them into your brain.
I am working with an instructor and jazz is pretty much all I listen to at this point. Intuitively I know what I want to hear myself play but execution is another thing.

This post was to help me understand and work out a specific timing issue involving that last triplet of the second and fourth quarter flamming with the ride. My last triplet of the first and third quarter might be slightly off too but it’s more forgiving because it’s in between the ride hits. To work on it I have been playing P9 line 3 over and over on a practice pad. My left hand wants to rush that second and fourth quarter partial triplet. Frustrating but it’s getting better. Thanks for the reply! Thanks to everyone for all of these great replies!
 
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