What is this called? (metric modulation/polymeter related)

Numberless

Platinum Member
At a tempo like 90, I'm subdividing in eight note triplets and then I feel the pulse of that subdivision as a 4/4, this gives me three beats of the new 4/4 tempo and then it resolves back at the one of the original tempo, since a measure has 12 triplets and 4 x 3 = 12.

Is this an example of metric modulation? Or simply just grouping the triplets?
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
It sounds like you're grouping your 8th note triplets in either twos or fours, which would mean you're playing a cross rhythm based on either quarter note or half note triplets.

The conservatory definition of metric modulation is an actual tempo change based on reassigning note values. Since the tempo change is brief, and you're the only one doing it- the band (I guess?) is maintaining the original tempo- this would be a cross rhythm, or a polyrhythm, or meter-within-meter passage- there are a number of terms that are used interchangeably.
 

Numberless

Platinum Member
Thanks for the replies, that video was quite insane!

Is it just me or is there some general confusion in the drummer community about rhythmic devices such as polymeters, modulation, polyrhythms and such?
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
Is it just me or is there some general confusion in the drummer community about rhythmic devices such as polymeters, modulation, polyrhythms and such?
There isn't much confusion among trained musicians, but drum set players with this level of education are pretty rare. Drummers with "street" training treat musical terminology in much the same way rappers treat language. Nothing wrong with that, of course, but as an educational resource, it's less than ideal.

I have noticed that, among drummers with such training, "implied metric modulation" and "metric modulation" are often interchanged. As TB points out, metric modulation results in a tempo change, where as implied metric modulation reverts back to the original tempo at some point. Gavin Harrison's Rhythmic Illusions discusses this at length, and he leaves out the "implied" part of the term. Oh well.

In your example, there most definitely is a metric modulation. If I understand you correctly, the 8th note triplet becomes a 16th note, and your new tempo is 90 X 3/4 = 67.5 bpm. Because you are playing 3 beats in the space of 4 beats, you could argue that there is a polyrhythm (or cross rhythm) happening in each measure, although, typically, polyrhythms occur when BOTH rhythms are being played at once, and it sounds like you are first playing one, and then other other, and not both at the same time.
 

Alain Rieder

Silver Member
What you play is actually displaced half notes in 12/8
If your third beat was the first beat, that would make regular half notes.

Since you think in 4/4 and triplets, then your left hand plays displaced half-note triplets (again if your third beat was the first beat, that would make a regular half-note triplet.

So you could play a metric modulation (or an implied one) based on this, but played that way on the pad I would see this more as displaced accents.
 

burn-4

Senior Member
I think this is what you are doing



Not sure what it's called really other than "p*ssing off your band mate" :p
 

8Mile

Platinum Member
When you hear musicians referring to "metric modulation," they are likely talking about what you're doing. Tony Williams used to do similar stuff when he played with Miles and most musicians applied the term to what he was doing. Here's a guy giving an example of what Tony would do within the context of a jazz ride pattern.

http://youtu.be/igvKjvws7I4

When Tony did this with Miles' group, the entire band would adjust to the new meter. In some cases, they would never go back and just finish the tune at the new meter!
 

Wavelength

Platinum Member
Metric modulation infers a tempo change. Since the tempo doesn't change, it's not a modulation. It is an implied metric modulation, where the quarter note triplet seems to become the new quarter note even though the tempo doesn't change. Check out John Riley's "Beyond Bop Drumming" for lots of examples on this...
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
Oh, right, Vinnie Colaiuta calls this a superimposed metric modulation- this is from his 1987 interview in the short-lived Percussioner magazine. I forget that I used to spend a lot of time fooling with things like this. I would heed his closing advice (my emphasis): "...if you find that you have the place where you can use something like this, above all else, be musical!"
 

burn-4

Senior Member
That post below (mine) was a reply to your original, didnt realise it was you who posted the video
The prinicple in that transcription is still the same though you are accenting in 2's / 4's as triplets
Pete Riley does this a lot- sounds cool
 

Numberless

Platinum Member
Metric modulation infers a tempo change. Since the tempo doesn't change, it's not a modulation. It is an implied metric modulation, where the quarter note triplet seems to become the new quarter note even though the tempo doesn't change.
But what if, hypothetically, the whole band shifts and we stick to the new tempo for the rest of the song, would that be considered a metric modulation?

Thanks for all the replies guys, this is still far from being used in a band setting, it's still just me and the metronome till I get the hang of it, but I gotta admit it's a fascinating aspect of rhythm.
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
But what if, hypothetically, the whole band shifts and we stick to the new tempo for the rest of the song, would that be considered a metric modulation?
Yes, that would be a metric modulation. Tony Williams did this in Miles Davis' band at times, just in a jazz context. Crazy, huh?

But most drummers these days are doing the "implied" or "superimposed" metric modulation as a way to create tension or suspense in the music, or to play a game of "hide the downbeat" during a drum break or solo.
 

DanJacobs

Member
It looks like your feeling the 3 over 2 polyrhythm but it would need 3 beats or 3 bars of 4/4 to resolve
 
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