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  1. #1
    I read a few interesting threads on rhythm here which is my biggest weakness as a player and something I want to improve.

    There was a lot of discussion about quarter note triplets which I've always struggled with.

    I ended up spending the past day practicing counting them. One thing I found interesting was to count the quarter note triplet as the base meter as if in 3/4 time with the quarter note being on a different 16th note in each measure. You end up with two patterns depending which you consider the base.

    Quarter note as the base:
    123-123-123-123

    Quarter note triplet as the base:
    1234-1234-1234

    But my real question is if getting a good feel for quarter note triplets is really that important for improvisation.

    It feels like my time would be better spent practicing rhythms of actual phrases. Also, it seems to me that most phrases start on the beat or the third triplet. The ability to feel the middle triplet doesn't seem that important to me.

    What am I missing here?

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  3. #2

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    It is true that some musical events seem to appear more frequently than others so by all means, learn these well. There are also musical events that you can guarantee will appear soon enough and quarter note triplets are one of them. Speaking from experience, we have a choice to prepare as best we can for those moments or wait until we get our asses kicked on a gig or rehearsal. The relationship between binary and ternary rhythms is fundamental to music of the African diaspora.

  4. #3

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    Goodbye Pork Pie Hat/Mingus is a good way to see/hear/feel/play these triplets...

    listen to the tune very carefully..when those bars come up..count those notes in context..repeat until you can count the entire tune
    and time those notes so they are smooth and not feel forced ..fast/slow.. in tempo of the tune

    sing the tune and foot tap or some other way to set a tempo until you can feel the triplets

    yeah..its a tricky time thing..3 against 4

    working in odd time is a great way to get them under your fingers..5/4..7/4 are good... use basic counting exercises to get a feel for them
    then..look up some tunes that use these time frames..there are quite a few in rock as well as pop and jazz..

  5. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by charlieparker
    But my real question is if getting a good feel for quarter note triplets is really that important for improvisation.
    They're actually pretty vital IMO, and it's difficult to realize what you're not hearing/playing correctly without attention to them. They're most easily counted as pairs of 8th note triplets, so double stops on 8th note triplets, like typical cliche trad blues double-stop turnarounds etc. Most ahead/behind ballad feels are triplets in disguise.

    Quote Originally Posted by charlieparker
    It feels like my time would be better spent practicing rhythms of actual phrases. Also, it seems to me that most phrases start on the beat or the third triplet. The ability to feel the middle triplet doesn't seem that important to me.

    What am I missing here?
    The middle triplet is mostly felt as an ahead or behind on-the-beat triplet. Pretty difficult to hear, until you can really hear them. Billie Holiday lives hear, in a way which won't be appreciated until you can hear it. Everything she does is a variation on this... That's simplifying a bit probably, but not too much... Anyway, if you understand that every other quarter note triplet is always on a beat, you might appreciate how you can't really hear them until you can hear them.

    I learned these as chord melody double-stops, but there are several other mechanical entry points. With a plectrum, you basically pick pairs of 8th note triplets, ghosting every other one. This is done extensively by Wes in his octave playing. You can hear the lifts on every other would-be 8th note triplet.

    Personally, I probably learned the most playing 12/8 on my steering wheel and singing while driving. Basic swing triplets RLR LRL RLR LRL, accenting every first note. That's straight. In that context, quarter note triplets are all right hand accents for on-the-beat or all left hand accents for "after". You get to where you can hear and sing entire melodies on quarter note triplets, on or off-beat.

    Reg always mentions Bellson rhythmic studies in 4/4, and he's right. Work the triplets in those. Remember that pairs of tied 8th-note-triplets are quarter-note-triplets. If you're doing notation like that, you also have to come to terms with how to read the 8th notes in those exercises as swing 8ths/triplets and see disguised quarter note triplet patterns.

  6. #5

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    [QUOTE=charlieparker;1065561]I read a few interesting threads on rhythm here which is my biggest weakness as a player and something I want to improve.

    If you don't improvise with quarter note triplets nobody is going to complain.

    But, it's a good idea to have all the major triplet sets, half, quarter, eighth, 16th, because they come up in written music and, sooner or later, you're likely to need them if you're playing a lot of different jazz tunes. If you're expecting to read jazz charts, you will definitely them. And, if you're voiced as a horn, you're going to need them to be accurate.

    They can be felt, and it's a lot easier to play them that way than by counting them, I think.

    I'd suggest writing them out in notation software and then practice along with the playback, emphasizing the ability to feel them.

    Here's a trick that I found helpful. All downstrokes on triplets. Somehow, it makes it easier, possibly because we're used to playing eighths in alternating strokes. Eventually, you'll be able to alternate on triplets too, but I think it's easier to learn to feel them using all downstrokes.

    Next up is feeling any two notes of a triplet with a rest on the other. That happens a lot. Like a note tied to the first note of a triplet, and you only play the last two notes of a triplet.

  7. #6

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    What RPJazzguitar said “They can be felt”. I practice in my head doing 3, 4 or 5 beats with my teeth while my head beats just the one. Heaps of emphasis on the one while practicing works well for me. Then vary each bar. Whichever way you practice after a little while you feel it.


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  8. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by matt.guitarteacher
    They're actually pretty vital IMO, and it's difficult to realize what you're not hearing/playing correctly without attention to them. They're most easily counted as pairs of 8th note triplets
    Not quite following, do you mean 121-212-121-212 instead of the typical 123-123-123-123?

    Quote Originally Posted by matt.guitarteacher
    The middle triplet is mostly felt as an ahead or behind on-the-beat triplet. Pretty difficult to hear, until you can really hear them. Billie Holiday lives hear, in a way which won't be appreciated until you can hear it. Everything she does is a variation on this...
    The context where I think I have heard this the most is when players end their phrases on an offbeat, but instead of on the third triplet they play the last note on the 2nd triplet.

    Quote Originally Posted by matt.guitarteacher
    Anyway, if you understand that every other quarter note triplet is always on a beat
    By on the beat, I assume you mean the 1st or third part of a triplet that one natural plays when playing swing eights?

    Quote Originally Posted by matt.guitarteacher
    I learned these as chord melody double-stops,
    Do you have any examples to point to I could listen to?

    Quote Originally Posted by matt.guitarteacher
    With a plectrum, you basically pick pairs of 8th note triplets, ghosting every other one. This is done extensively by Wes in his octave playing. You can hear the lifts on every other would-be 8th note triplet.
    Sounds like a great exercise. Will give it a whirl.

    Quote Originally Posted by matt.guitarteacher
    Personally, I probably learned the most playing 12/8 on my steering wheel and singing while driving. Basic swing triplets RLR LRL RLR LRL, accenting every first note. That's straight. In that context, quarter note triplets are all right hand accents for on-the-beat or all left hand accents for "after". You get to where you can hear and sing entire melodies on quarter note triplets, on or off-beat.
    Sounds like another great exercise. Thanks for all the tips.

  9. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by charlieparker
    Not quite following, do you mean 121-212-121-212 instead of the typical 123-123-123-123?
    2 eighth notes tied together equals one quarter note. The same is true of 8th triplets and quarter triplets.
    8ths: 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &; Quarter notes: 1 [&] 2 [&] 3 [&] 4 [&] Ghost note or mute-pick the &'s, and you get the melodic representation of the placement of the quarter note beats.
    8th note triplets: 1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 3; 8th note triplets: 1 [2] 3 [1] 2 [3] 1 [2] 3 [1] 2 [3] Ghost note or mute-pick the brackets, and you get the melodic representation of the placement of the quarter note triplets. Like rp, I pick these the same direction. (I think I usually pick them all up). But the idea for me is the same: that they are analogs of normal 8ths and quarters. Again, they're mostly used to play with time; to play with the feeling of being ahead/behind. Listen to Billie and Erroll Garner. That behind feel is mostly quarter note trIplets subbed for 8ths or quarter notes.

    1. Quarter note triplets "drag" regular 8th note rhythms.
    2. Also, quarter note triplets "rush" regular quarter note rhythms. (Think billie and garner as being typical for both of these first 2).
    3. 8th note triplets "rush" regular 8th note rhythms. (Louis Armstrong's vocal phrasing is based around this very heavily)

    These rushed phrasing feels very often start "behind" and end "ahead". It depends on the length of the phrase and personal taste, but that gets you started and is easy to hear.
    Quote Originally Posted by charlieparker

    By on the beat, I assume you mean the 1st or third part of a triplet that one natural plays when playing swing eights?
    No. I just messed that up sorry. I think I was meaning that every other quarter triplet lands on a swing eighth. So, probably what you're describing in your post: 2 eighths, with a final note on the middle triplet...yes, that's a quarter note triplet. But yeah, that basically just heard as 2 swing eights with an additional note slightly ahead/behind, if you're not used to hear them. It doesn't really matter in that sense. What's more important is being able to hear those 3's as their own organizational framework/pulse/meter etc etc.
    Quote Originally Posted by charlieparker
    Do you have any examples to point to I could listen to?
    This is me. Old and cheesy version, but this is the tune that taught me a lot of this. AABA structure, and the A sections are made up almost entirely of quarter note triplets. Anyway, I finally realized that the easiest way for me to hear/conceive of /play the quarter-triplets was to just play the 8th triplets in between. A while back now. It is what it is.

    Just looking and found this as well. Kind of etude/exercises built around the idea. Too long and probably not as helpful if you don't somewhat know the tune.

    It's not complicated and "out", and not just for jazz:

    I'm not really player, but most jazzers do this kind of thing constantly, without thought. It's not conceived of necessarily in a conscious way. Definitely not heard that way by most listeners. It's just "loose", "laid back", "jazzy" etc etc. But it has a structure based on basic ideas of 3 against 4.

  10. #9

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    In Konakol we would focus first on the junction points, and only then on the accentuation.

    So for instance accent the groupings of two triplets like this so you line it up with the pulse

    1 2 1 2 1 2 1 2 1 2 1 2

    and only once this is locked in 100% do

    1 2 1 2 1 2 etc

  11. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    In Konakol we would focus first on the junction points, and only then on the accentuation.

    So for instance accent the groupings of two triplets like this so you line it up with the pulse

    1 2 1 2 1 2 1 2 1 2 1 2

    and only once this is locked in 100% do

    1 2 1 2 1 2 etc
    Very cool. This was my progression with car steering wheel as well. :-)

    Are you taking classes or doing lessons with this etc.? I have questions...

  12. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by matt.guitarteacher
    Very cool. This was my progression with car steering wheel as well. :-)

    Are you taking classes or doing lessons with this etc.? I have questions...
    I'm taking one on one lessons. Fire away!

    BTW the next stage beyond that is what my teacher calls gapping, which in this case is doing just '1'. And then you can do '1 2 3' on the 1/4 triplets once that rhythms been internalised.

    You can use a similar process with any polyrhythm regardless of complexity (this is by the standards of Konakol a very simple, albeit very important one.) In Konakol we use easily articulated syllables such as 'ta ki da' and 'ta ka di mi' so we can do fast subdivisions, but the principle is exactly the same.

  13. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    I'm taking one on one lessons. Fire away!

    BTW the next stage beyond that is what my teacher calls gapping, which in this case is doing just '1'. And then you can do '1 2 3' on the 1/4 triplets once that rhythms been internalized.

    You can use a similar process with any polyrhythm regardless of complexity (this is by the standards of Konakol a very simple, albeit very important one.) In Konakol we use easily articulated syllables such as 'ta ki da' and 'ta ka di mi' so we can do fast subdivisions, but the principle is exactly the same.

    I learned these by using a system similar to this above, to count. I thought using the hard consonants worked better than the saying " trip-pull-let " for counting these. The " ta-ki-da " was a bit harder to say quickly for me so I just changed it to " tick-ket-tee" for the triplet. So as noted above, to get the timing on these, count out the time of whatever tempo you're playing ( start slow for starters ) in quarters, so for the first bar or two.... 1, 2, 3, 4, etc until you feel the tempo in quarters. Then make the quarters into triplets while maintaining tempo, so... tick-ket-tee, tick-ket-tee, tick-ket-tee, tick-ket-tee. Lock that in and then the quarter note triplets would be tick-ket, tick-ket, tick-ket, ( this being one quarter note triplet.) maintaining that tempo.

    That counting scheme gives the quarter note triplet feel but using the same idea can give you others. For example half note triplets would be tick-ket-tee-tick, tick-ket-tee-tick, tick-ket-tee-tick. In the event it's not clear with this, the note is played on the tick of all of these.

    Hope this answers the question. That 3 feel is in a lot of standard and latin melodies so I think worthwhile learning just for that reason.

  14. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by keith
    I learned these by using a system similar to this above, to count. I thought using the hard consonants worked better than the saying " trip-pull-let " for counting these. The " ta-ki-da " was a bit harder to say quickly for me so I just changed it to " tick-ket-tee" for the triplet. So as noted above, to get the timing on these, count out the time of whatever tempo you're playing ( start slow for starters ) in quarters, so for the first bar or two.... 1, 2, 3, 4, etc until you feel the tempo in quarters. Then make the quarters into triplets while maintaining tempo, so... tick-ket-tee, tick-ket-tee, tick-ket-tee, tick-ket-tee. Lock that in and then the quarter note triplets would be tick-ket, tick-ket, tick-ket, ( this being one quarter note triplet.) maintaining that tempo.

    That counting scheme gives the quarter note triplet feel but using the same idea can give you others. For example half note triplets would be tick-ket-tee-tick, tick-ket-tee-tick, tick-ket-tee-tick. In the event it's not clear with this, the note is played on the tick of all of these.

    Hope this answers the question. That 3 feel is in a lot of standard and latin melodies so I think worthwhile learning just for that reason.
    Yeah this is starter stuff for Konnakol really, it's designed to build up to all sorts of rhythmic mayhem and is a very consistent system for doing this because South Indian music is proper complicated rhythmically. It's amazing how complex it gets very quickly... Patterns of 5 and 7 were introduced in lesson 1, and now I'm working on groups of seven in pentuplets and dotted quarter groupings of 5s and 7s against a Tala in 3, and this is halfway through the course. Also double whole note triplets! (i.e. a triplet stretched over two 4/4 bars.)

    I think this is probably going to help.

    But it's all the same process. The teacher isn't too set about the syllables, but one thing he is very clear on is whether it is a 'Ka' or a 'Ki'; this programs the difference between groups of 2 and 3, which is a basic thing that needs to be intuitive. The diction effects how well you internalise these basic groupings apparently.

    So if you want to be good at odd time, practice moving between:
    Ta KA Ta KI Da
    Ta KI da Ta KA

    Also, Westerners prefer grouping the long bit in the odd time grouping, so we prefer 4+3 to 3+4, 3+2 over 2+3, and so on, which I thought was interesting.

    I suppose you can always say 'sc-ien-tol-o-gy' for 5. Lol.

  15. #14

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    The answer is:
    Quarter Note Triplets-6f5426720363b1b8a4bb391c567d8bcd-jpg

  16. #15

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    Hi, CP,
    Buy a metronome. Set it at ,say, 62bpm and tap with your hands 123/123/123 accenting the first beat as defined by the metronome. Don't bother with your guitar until you have it in your head. Increase speed accordingly. Then, you can try syncopation. Good luck! Play live . . . Marinero

  17. #16

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    Oh another thing my teacher said, and I think this is important for guitarists, is that working on multitasking and independence is good. So you can do body percussion, finger picking/thumb patterns, tapping your foot in different meters against your playing, while vocalising a third rhythm and so on to work on this.

    So, you may be able to beat out a quarter triplet against your feet in 4, but can you swap them?

  18. #17

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    Quarter note triplets come without thought in my improvised lines, but not so easy when I'm sight reading them from a page. In other words, it's best if you can feel them without thinking about the math.

  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by fep
    Quarter note triplets come without thought in my improvised lines, but not so easy when I'm sight reading them from a page. In other words, it's best if you can feel them without thinking about the math.
    If you have to count out rhythms when reading, it's no wonder you struggle to read them. In fact, when you see quarter triplet written down you should hear quarter note triplet in your head, just like you hear my words in your head when you read this sentence. You have to do this to effectively read any kind of rhythms beyond the most basic. That means linking the visual and the sound directly. Some sort of rhythmic solfeggi can be very useful for this.

    Anyway, I often see posts like this referring to rhythm. This is only half the truth. It certainly wasn't true for me.

    So, everything you do in music should be intuitive, as much as possible. That doesn't mean it always starts that way. Anyone who plays a musical instrument has been through this process many many times. But I think rhythm and groove has a mystique which says more about our blind spots than anything about rhythm.

    It is true that sometimes, as with other aspects of music, it may come naturally. If you grew up with certain rhythms, for instance.

    But there is a possibility one may not get it naturally (I see this a lot actually) and the there's a need to break things down a bit to learn, to get them right, and that's OK too. So you start out by ensuring a rhythm is accurate by counting it out. And then you practice it and practice it until it is second nature. Later on human feel and groove and all that good stuff starts to come in.

    So a more complex example - while 6 over 4 might be familiar for some, groups of 7 in triplets are not natural I think for most people in the West. So to develop the ability to feel them intuitively I need to spend some time practicing them, and a clear framework is needed to do this.

    Other things - not hearing upbeat placement strongly... Rushing the and of 4... all classic natural tendencies of many musicians in this part of the world, including this one.
    Last edited by christianm77; 10-05-2020 at 12:20 PM.

  20. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    If you have to count out rhythms when reading, it's no wonder you struggle to read them. In fact, when you see quarter triplet written down you should hear quarter note triplet in your head, just like you hear my words in your head when you read this sentence. You have to do this to effectively read any kind of rhythms beyond the most basic. That means linking the visual and the sound directly. Some sort of rhythmic solfeggi can be very useful for this.

    Anyway, I often see posts like this referring to rhythm. This is only half the truth. It certainly wasn't true for me.

    So, everything you do in music should be intuitive, as much as possible. That doesn't mean it always starts that way. Anyone who plays a musical instrument has been through this process many many times. But I think rhythm and groove has a mystique which says more about our blind spots than anything about rhythm.

    It is true that sometimes, as with other aspects of music, it may come naturally. If you grew up with certain rhythms, for instance.

    But there is a possibility one may not get it naturally (I see this a lot actually) and the there's a need to break things down a bit to learn, to get them right, and that's OK too. So you start out by ensuring a rhythm is accurate by counting it out. And then you practice it and practice it until it is second nature. Later on human feel and groove and all that good stuff starts to come in.

    So a more complex example - while 6 over 4 might be familiar for some, groups of 7 in triplets are not natural I think for most people in the West. So to develop the ability to feel them intuitively I need to spend some time practicing them, and a clear framework is needed to do this.

    Other things - not hearing upbeat placement strongly... Rushing the and of 4... all classic natural tendencies of many musicians in this part of the world, including this one.
    Yeah. Absolutely. Both are important really. Eventually it has to be proper audiation, but you should be able to work things out the same way that you do with 8ths and 16ths. The fact that you don't actually do math when reading 8ths/16ths is somewhat beside the point. Anyway, it's really helpful to just be able to feel them as a place, as well as basic sound: left hand... up-stroke... syllable... string etc etc. The audiation informs the concrete understanding and vice versa. Most of us learn triplets by ear first, so it's somewhat difficult to remember that we basically did the same for the other rhythms as well in the beginning. The fact that we eventually learn to abstract rhythmic concepts and learn to hear/play rhythms we potentially haven't seen before is very cool, but we should be able to do the same with triplets. I talked to a player on the forum once who was a real player and had no idea what was up with the 3rd triplet, even though he probably play better than me. Honest enough to ask about it in a thread.... "I know what it sounds like, and I can play it... but WTF?".

    Anyway, back to your thing, I assume you're using a drum? Do you "voice" each hand somewhat differently? Or different beats? Play the drum in a different place or mute etc for specific accents etc?

    Thanks.

  21. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by matt.guitarteacher
    Yeah. Absolutely. Both are important really. Eventually it has to be proper audiation, but you should be able to work things out the same way that you do with 8ths and 16ths. The fact that you don't actually do math when reading 8ths/16ths is somewhat beside the point. Anyway, it's really helpful to just be able to feel them as a place, as well as basic sound: left hand... up-stroke... syllable... string etc etc. The audiation informs the concrete understanding and vice versa. Most of us learn triplets by ear first, so it's somewhat difficult to remember that we basically did the same for the other rhythms as well in the beginning. The fact that we eventually learn to abstract rhythmic concepts and learn to hear/play rhythms we potentially haven't seen before is very cool, but we should be able to do the same with triplets. I talked to a player on the forum once who was a real player and had no idea what was up with the 3rd triplet, even though he probably play better than me. Honest enough to ask about it in a thread.... "I know what it sounds like, and I can play it... but WTF?".

    Anyway, back to your thing, I assume you're using a drum? Do you "voice" each hand somewhat differently? Or different beats? Play the drum in a different place or mute etc for specific accents etc?

    Thanks.
    No it's all done with the voice and the hands; or at least how we are doing it.

    Rather helpfully my teacher has a series YouTube videos explaining it all.... Here's the first one:
    Last edited by christianm77; 10-05-2020 at 05:04 PM.