This excerpt is taken from the complete article that appears in the October 2015 issue,
which is available here.

Rock Perspectives

Progressive Drumming Essentials

Part 4: How to Feel Odd Subdivisions

by Aaron Edgar

When I was first learning quintuplets and septuplets, I would mentally cut them into smaller groups of two and three. So quintuplets would be felt as “1-2, 1-2-3” and septuplets would be felt as “1-2, 1-2, 1-2-3,” with an emphasis on each 1. The problem was that it always sounded like I was feeling them that way. As much as dividing them up mentally helped me technically, it was a limitation that I wanted to break through.

The focus of this lesson is to be able to feel each subdivision without having to mentally cut it into smaller groups. Breaking away from that process will help you internalize the rhythms as entire figures so that you have much more fluid execution of them.

The first step is counting each subdivision out loud. I use an Indian counting system. There are many variations of this, but the syllables I like to use are “ta, ka, din, ah, gah” for quintuplets and “ta, ka, din, ah, ge, na, gah” for septuplets. These roll off the tongue easily and can be vocalized accurately at very high speeds. It’s imperative to feel “ta” as the dominant note, as it represents the quarter-note pulse. When you’re practicing, vocally accent “ta,” whether or not you’re accenting it on the drums.

For more on this topic, including transcriptions of the examples demonstrated in the video below, check out the complete article in the October 2015 issue, which is available here.

Learn more about the October Issue of Modern Drummer magazine