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  #1  
Old 07-09-2013, 04:04 PM
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Mordecai Mordecai is offline
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Polyrhythm


I've been wondering if anyone out there could think polyrhythmically. I'm sure people out there can play polyrhythmically, but I'm looking for polyrhythmic thinkers. Here is the difference:
When you play 5:4, you will count (or feel) 1+++2e++3+&+4++a5+++ (the pluses represent 16th notes which are not played). When you think in 5:4, you have the mental freedom to count/feel the relationship as either 5 beats with a few oddly placed 16th notes (as is shown above), or as 4 beats with a few oddly placed quintuplets 16ths. At a drum clinic I went to, the clinician emphasized the importance of being able to fluidly go back and forth between these two different metric perceptions. He even discussed the ability to think in both at the same time, which requires thinking in two different tempos. This idea is particularly useful in metric modulations, which often require quick mental shifts in the definition of the down beat. Can anybody do this, or at least, has anybody else heard of or conceived of this idea before?

On a side note, is this forum an appropriate place to post .pdf transcriptions of drum set music?
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  #2  
Old 07-10-2013, 08:54 AM
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Re: Polyrhythm


In order to play polyrhythmically wouldn't you have to think polyrhythmically as well, even if instead of counting the two meters simultaneously you mentally feel the relationship between the two signatures?


A good drummer has trained their brain to think independently for all four extremities at the same time. This is exactly why everybody isn't able to play a drum set.

You are welcome to post a PDF.
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Old 07-10-2013, 11:14 AM
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Re: Polyrhythm


I would say no, though it isn't easy to tell. I could play 1, 2+3, continuously (right hand does quarters and left comes together on beat 1 and is alone on the + of 2) and I would be playing 3:2 but I would hardly be thinking in the rhythm of my left hand. What I'm aiming at is playing polyrhythms in a way where.. well its hard to explain, so here is a picture instead. The picture shows two ways of thinking about the same polyrhythm, one where 2 is given the beat, and one where 3 is given the beat. I'm looking for people who can comfortably think in both ways simultaneously.

Bah, I made a nice example image but the upload keeps failing (file format and size are both appropriate). This link should work: View image: example

Edit: I see what you were saying now about feeling the relationship now. While it is true that by playing a polyrhythm you should feel that relationship, thinking in the manner I describe would allow more variation within the context of each rhythm, perhaps simultaneously. For example, in 2/4 at quarter = 80, I might be coming up with some cool rhythm on my hi-hat, while also inventing an accompanying rhythm in 3/4 at quarter = 120 on my bass. Kinda like two people playing together at different tempi, except that there is a degree of continuity tied in through the polyrhythmic relationship between the two tempi.
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Old 07-10-2013, 01:22 PM
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Re: Polyrhythm


Sweet!, I love intellectual banter, great topic!


So here goes.......


The human brain does not function in such a way where we can multi task simultaneously (or so I understand by what I have read about that in the past), which is why we have a difficult time focusing on a phone call while at the same time focusing on driving. Those who do OK doing both would argue that they can effectively do both at the same time, but what scientific study has shown us is that those people are simply able to rapidly shift attention between the two duties effectively rather than doing both at the same time.


This principal would apply to playing polyrhythms on a drum set also. I would venture to say that at first one rhythm would be played using muscle memory and the other by counting to the signature, and if that combination is rehearsed repeatedly, eventually both rhythms would be played without counting but by knowing the relationship between the two while being played together.


So if you were playing ostinato (a waltz beat (bass-hat-hat)) on your lower extremity and you trained yourself to do this without thinking or counting, then you open your upper extremity to playing anything of a different time signature you want by counting it or playing to a click track.


One way to prove this would have been to ask your clinician (if he claims to be able to simultaneously count in two time signatures) to sight read a drum set score written in two signatures without practicing one or the other first. He would be unable.
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Old 07-11-2013, 12:05 PM
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Re: Polyrhythm


Hmm you have a good point. I recall hearing once that over 50% of our efficiency is lost when we attempt to multitask. Perhaps it is impractical to truly split ones mind. I'm going to sit down at the drum set and think about this real quick.

Ok, so what I thought may have been the ability to do what I mentioned earlier with simple polyrhythms (3:2), is as you thought. Thinking in both is inefficient, but switching back and forth rapidly is a skill that can be developed and it has clear applications in metric modulations.

Anyway, this is not directly related, but its close enough for me. I don't have any specific questions about this, but I'd like to know if you have any experience playing 16ths over quintuplets or sextuplets (or septuplets if you're heroic enough). Doing so is very similar to the polyrhythms already discussed in that you have to focus on, at least, a down beat where everything comes together, however it is different in that most polyrhythms (maybe all?) can be mapped out note for note, whereas these combinations are generally too rapid to be mapped out, and so there is a period in each cycle in which you have to.. well do something. I'm not sure exactly, but whatever it is, it is easier than mapping out 5:4 (or 6 or 7:4) at hyperspeed and consciously grasping the relationship (which would have you thinking in 128th notes). Perhaps we (or at least I) use muscle memory to let two limbs run through the more familiar 16ths while we focus our conscious energy on playing the harder rhythm. Yes that is definitely what I do. I'll let me feet roll through the 16ths on autopilot and then I'll consciously add my hands based on the downbeat. Come to think of it, by focusing on the downbeat, I can direct both rhythms more congruently rather than dividing myself between an autopilot and a conscious quintuplet effort.

Thoughts?
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Old 07-15-2013, 05:53 AM
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Re: Polyrhythm


I am not a kit drummer, I am interested in polyrhythm. This year I have been playing over 30 new polyrhythms a day and by December I will have clocked up over 13,000 (Thats all of the symmetrical polyrhythms under 36 beats long) I do not use standard music notation or recognise bar lines. I concentrate on the combined pattern of any two rhythms. After several years working in this field it is relatively easy to drop one of the rhythms and introduce a new one. I have even done it in my sleep, woken up and played the new rhythm without reading. I think the trick is to treat each polyrhythm as a unit, and the two seperate rhythms as subsets of the whole. (I have written 6 books of polyrhythms, but it is a tiny market and I am not famous)
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Old 07-15-2013, 12:26 PM
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Re: Polyrhythm


Chaparral,


It wouldn't be necessary to be able to read sheet music if you are creating your own polys, but it would be very important if you were a working drummer, like a session drummer for instance.


Your method reinforces my statement that rather than being able to count in two time signatures at the same time, many drummers just feel the relationship between the two rhythms as they play them.


Mordecai,


I am not a high speed drummer in the sense of today's Thrash or Death Metal styles and the like, so it is unlikely that I would play something as fast as you are talking about. About the closest thing to that I would be playing would be a few from Megadeath or possibly Metallica.


My interest in polyrhythms was sparked by drummers like John Bonham and Neil Peart (and several others) so I am most likely to be playing short bursts of 32nds here and there while tossing in an odd timed fill or combination over the top of it.
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Old 07-31-2013, 05:38 PM
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Re: Polyrhythm


This topic has been a good read. Some great points already made and I'm not sure I can add to much.

What I will say though is playing a polyrhythm only truly becomes a polyrhythm when you can treat each pulse as the pulse. You need to be able to track each side as the quarter not and start subdividing first 8ths the triplets 16ths and so on.

This then leads itself to grooving on each side which can become metric modulation.

I've been working from Peter Magadini polyrhythm book lately and it's early days but this stuff is starting to come together. I've only been working on 6 over 4 and playing different subdivisions on each side but it definitely opens your mind.
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Old 08-01-2013, 04:34 PM
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Re: Polyrhythm


That's exactly what I've been trying to communicate Kyle. Hearing both beats as quarters in different tempi was the idea. Here is a thought: For those who can either play or hear 5 against 4 in their heads, check this thread out: http://www.drumsetconnect.com/drum-f...html#post59192
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