Things are not as harder as we think if faced with the right approach. Polyrhythms can drive you to new rhythmic destinations, increase your knowledge, improve your timing, your independence, and inspire you with new ideas. In this lesson I introduce a series of exercises to “displace” the bass drum-snare pattern, a rhythmic solution played in a great variety of styles. Drummers such as Vinnie Colaiuta, Gavin Harrison, and Dennis Chambers, to name a few, have developed this concept reaching new levels of complexity and perfection. The following exercises are indicated both for the beginner and intermediate drummer. Advanced drummers can find some useful suggestions.
The main idea is based on a 4 over 3 played alternating bass drum and snare, with the left foot hi-hat on the floor. You can start off playing only the snare and then once comfortable add the bass drum, in order to focus on accuracy and consistency.
Let’s apply this idea in a groove context adding a simple cymbal pattern in 8th notes, playing three bars of groove and one of displacement. With the second exercise, we alternate two bars of groove and two of displacement. Lastly, one bar of groove and three of groove displacement, completing the 4 over 3’s cycle with the bass drum that “falls” on the downbeat of the first bar. In the same way, we can play the exercises with different cymbal patterns, listed in the PDF of the lesson.
Here are some suggestions to inspire you with new rhythmic ideas, including a 4 over 3 cymbal displacement and more.
All the exercises of this article are included in one printable PDF file. For further study, I recommend two books: Polyrhythms for the Drumset and Polyrhythms – The Musician’s Guide by Peter Magadini. Keep on drumming!
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