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Tips on playing triplets over straight eighths . . . ARRRRGGGGG!!!


shniggens

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I spent a lot of time in high school (mostly during algebra) practicing 2 against three with my feet. Then if I could manage I would do it with hands on my knees. I would start with the eighth and then add the triplet, and vice versa. I tried to do this with every appendage I had (have). It seemed to work - I now feel very comfortable playing and two against three figure.

 

It comes down to getting your brain wired correctly.

Weasels ripped my flesh. Rzzzzzzz.
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Shniggens: Maybe I'm thinking too hard!!!
I'm tapping it with my fingers right now on my desk (well I was before starting to type this). Assuming it's the left hand doing the 8ths, get that going and just keep repeating it. Then start your right hand doing the triplets. It might throw off your Lt hand at first but just keep doing it and it will click in...
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Yeah - your hands have to get used to working independently; it takes a while.

 

Try separate hand practice initially with metronome, then try alternating hands with metronome, then...just go for it. I think it's more about feeling the pulse of the beat, rather than trying to count in sixths. Good luck.

Tom F.

"It is what it is."

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Have you tried programming what you want into a rhythm machine or a sequencer and just listen to it play back over and over again?

No guitarists were harmed during the making of this message.

 

In general, harmonic complexity is inversely proportional to the ratio between chording and non-chording instruments.

 

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Originally posted by Dave Horne:

Have you tried programming what you want into a rhythm machine or a sequencer and just listen to it play back over and over again?

I know what it sounds like, I just have a hard time internalizing it. My hands keep wanting to play the same rhythm.
Amateur Hack
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Originally posted by shniggens:

Maybe I'm thinking too hard!!!

 

It's driving me CRAAAAAAAZZZZYYYYYY!!!!! :mad:

 

It's like rubbing my belly and patting my head WHILE jumping on a pogo stick! :D

1. It's hard.

2. Trying to count it out in twelves won't help.

3. Practice.

 

Beyond that, listening to a recording that has parts like that and clapping or tapping along might help.

 

I think of such passages in terms of the duration of each note, rather than in subdivisions of the beat. As beginners, we all learn to subdivide the beat, "one-ey and-ah two-ey and-ah" etc." You have to think in terms of note duration itself in order to play two over three. At least, I do.

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The way I've done it is to play the triplets with my right hand, then quarter notes in the left, and keep doing this until I am playing the triplets without thinking about them. Then I work on doubling the quarter notes so that they become eighth notes. I listen to the left hand without paying attention to the right. Then when I am starting to get the left hand to play eighths, I start to listen to the whole thing. It's not easy, but you'll get it! Also take long breaks--if you don't get it today, try again tomorrow. Your brain will have done some work overnight in getting you to where you want to be!

Ben

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If I could add to this.... Onc you do get it, you'll likely find yourself thinking in triplets instead of straight-eights. To really GET this, you have to be able to play it while focusing on the straight-eights instead of the dominant triplets. So do the hand-exercises as described. Once you're comfortable wih it, play the triplet hand on something silent (your leg, for instance) while playing the straight-eights hand on a table or something loud. Then switch hands, again playing the straight-eights hand on the table and the triplets hand on somthing silent. Practice that a lot so you may feel triplets properly over the typical eights base you're used to instead of shifting your entire playing attitude to triplets.

Originally posted by BenOne:

The way I've done it is to play the triplets with my right hand, then quarter notes in the left, and keep doing this until I am playing the triplets without thinking about them.

Ben

I used to think I was Libertarian. Until I saw their platform; now I know I'm no more Libertarian than I am RepubliCrat or neoCON or Liberal or Socialist.

 

This ain't no track meet; this is football.

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Rather than focusing on note durations, I think about two things:

 

1) the resulting pattern, which has to be internalized and "fingerized" IYKWIM.

 

2) listening to either (or both) and making sure they sound very regular.

 

Definitely start out just using two hands or two fingers and lap drumming or desk drumming. When you get the pattern down, try doing it with just two notes on the piano.

 

The next step is to play simple patterns. For example try a 3-note up-and-down (root 5 octave) on the 8th notes with the left hand, while playing a single note on the right hand. Then change the right hand part to any simple arpeggio or pattern that repeats in 3, and keep the timing.

 

Then, when you want to have some real fun, take a pattern that naturally divides by two or four and play that on the right hand (in triplets), while playing a simple pattern on the left hand. For example, the intro to Riders In The Storm is a natural pattern to play in even numbers; playing it in triplets will really build your finger independence and ram home your understanding of the simple polyrythm.

 

Of course, we should be able to reverse hand roles, and play the triplets on the left and 8th notes on the right. Not too surprisingly, learining that is easier than the other way was the first time.

 

One you're pretty good with the 3-against-2 patterns, start with 3-against-4.

 

Practice a LOT, and soon you'll find yourself whipping it out in places that surprise you. It also lends itself to being able to pull a little trick by Little Feat (and others), which is to play a tune in straight time and swing at the same time. BTW, you'll also learn which drummers have this down and which ones don't.

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As evidenced by this thread, what works well for one person may be fervently argued against by the next. You just need to try some of the various suggestions and see what works for you.

 

For me thirds and eights are the easiest to mix and I used it a lot as a drummer.

The overall pattern is like thirds playing 1-2&3-1-2&3-

Right hand playing 1-2-3-

Left hand playing 1--&--

 

Just repeat in your head, 1 2 and 3, play the pattern with your hands like drumming, or as dabowsa said, Hark hear the bells, sweet silver bells..."

 

Now that song will run through my head all evening.

 

Robert

This post edited for speling.
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Originally posted by Rabid:

Now that song will run through my head all evening.

 

Robert

As well as these rhythms for me!!!

 

Whew! Thanks alot, peeps!!!

 

I'm going to be dedicating all my practice to this for awhile. I guess it's just one of those hurdles I have to overcome. :o

 

My piano is taunting me!!!!!! :D

Amateur Hack
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Funny I was praticing just this over the weekend.

 

You really want to get it to the point where you can just do it. There is no way you can count this as speed and I don't believe there is any way to do it with the hands locked together.

 

Main thing is to concentrate on where the beat is. Start up the triplets and when you have them going nicely try to put the straight eights on top (or the other way up, but I find it easier to always start with the triplets).

 

The immediate result will be a train wreck at first but after a while it will start to work.

 

Every so often you have to stop and work on playing 8th notes evenly before going at it again.

 

This is not easy!

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flam-R-L-R

flam-R-L-R

flam-R-L-R

 

Don't think about it too much. Just LISTEN to how it really sounds when played slowly. Then do it.

Harry Likas was the Technical Editor of Mark Levine's "The Jazz Theory Book" and also helped develop "The Jazz Piano Book." Harry spends his time teaching jazz piano online and playing solo piano gigs.

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Originally posted by shniggens:

Originally posted by Prague:

flam-R-L-R

flam-R-L-R

flam-R-L-R

:confused:

 

I'm sorry, I don't understand. Is that drum talk?

Flam is drum talk for Right and Left at the same time. In reality your two sticks do not hit exactly at the same time on a flam, giving it a double hit sound. Of course on piano you want the right and left hand notes to hit at the same time and not really flam.

 

Robert

This post edited for speling.
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You do NOT want that double-hit when practicing 3 against 2, you want both hands to hit at exactly the same time. It's like practicing to a metronome - if you're doing it right, you do NOT hear the click when you play on it.

Originally posted by Rabid:

Flam is drum talk for Right and Left at the same time. In reality your two sticks do not hit exactly at the same time on a flam, giving it a double hit sound. Of course on piano you want the right and left hand notes to hit at the same time and not really flam.

Robert

I used to think I was Libertarian. Until I saw their platform; now I know I'm no more Libertarian than I am RepubliCrat or neoCON or Liberal or Socialist.

 

This ain't no track meet; this is football.

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Also, the "flam-r-l-r" doesn't indicate that the pause between the flam and the r is twice as long as the other pauses. The pause when repeating is also twice as long. More like this

 

R+L . R L R .

 

where the 8th notes are played by L, and the dots are unplayed "twelfth" notes.

 

Here's a suggestion. Someone above mentioned not bothering subdividing by 12, but I think it's a good way to get started. (This technique falls down a bit when trying 11 against 13 ...)

 

Start playing triplets with your right hand. These are essentially "sixth" notes. Do this VERY slowly.

 

Mentally start imagining the halfway point between these notes. These are "twelfth" notes. (Nobody in music ever calls them that, though!)

 

Now, using your left hand, hit on the first of the three. These are quarter notes.

 

Almost there. Listen for the midway point between the 2nd and 3rd right hand beat.

 

Finally: Add a right hand hit, on that midway point.

 

Now you should be hearing the "hark silver bells" pattern mentioned above, and also the "FLAM R-L-R" pattern (but don't really flam, hit them together!)

 

OK, now you have the basic pattern, repeat it unilt it's second nature. Once it's easy to do, you need to raise your consciousness a level. While playing the pattern, just listen to the left hand. Is it a nice steady beat? Good. Now just listen to the right hand. Is it a nice steady beat? Great!

 

Finally, and this is really important: you need to learn to start it off with the left hand first -- playing the 8th notes before the triplets. This is important because in the context of a real song, the 8th note is usually the established pattern and the triplets are more like embellishments.

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OK, Shniggens, Got all that?

Remember it all, every detail, & start practicing....NOW!

 

Or take Rabid Robbie's advice & try different tacks 'til one or another seems to help.

 

You can't hold all those theories in your mind at once but more than one may be helpful. The greatest realization I ever had is that two seemingly different ideas need not be truly contradictory. It's a dualistic universe.

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I played in raï band a few years back; almost every single tune was subdivided 2:3 or 3:2... nobody knew if the tunes were in 2/2, 2/4, 4/4, 6/4, 6/8, 6:4, 12/8 or whatever! It was absolute insanity since the marockan guys in the band didn't count the songs off, they just started. Talk about 'stump the band'! :D My favorite time was the rehersal of a particular riff in an intro that ALL the band members started differently...

 

Anyway, I think I nailed my subdivisions right there... 5:4 and 7:8 was almost easy for a while!

 

:cool:

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This is not a solution, but sometimes when I have a problem I am working through, I just think about it and I actually work it out in my sleep.

 

I would just think about the problem and set it aside. I'm sure you will be able to play it in time (no pun intended).

 

If you have music notation software, write it out and try to play it while looking at the placement of the notes. We have all encountered the same exact situation. I think this is a bit like juggling - the first time you do it, you wonder why it took so long to accomplish it.

No guitarists were harmed during the making of this message.

 

In general, harmonic complexity is inversely proportional to the ratio between chording and non-chording instruments.

 

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Originally posted by Dave Horne:

I think this is a bit like juggling - the first time you do it, you wonder why it took so long to accomplish it.

Ain't that the truth. When my piano teacher showed me how to play triplet quarter notes over a swung eighth rhythm, I was like . . . DUUUUUHHHHH. It was so easy after that!

 

This perplexing problem (triplets over straight eights) is a little more frustrating to me.

 

Good news is . . . after a 4 month hiatus from lessons due to my wedding, and then a long miserable trip into the depths of graveyard shift . . . I am starting piano lessons with the same (great) teacher TOMORROW!!!

 

I will see what his take is on this subject, then pick and choose the tips I can most relate to in both this thread and his advice.

 

Thanks again, everyone!!!

 

Now go pound out some triplet boogie over straight eighth bass so you can be happy you are not me!!!! :D:wave:

Amateur Hack
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I worked through the 3/2 "hands thing" fairly early on...What gets me is when I jump on drums to goof around. I get the hands going okay...But then you gotta throw in both feet! Aaargh!

 

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"If more of us valued food, cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world." - J. R. R. Tolkien
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