Nine Over Two

Part 3: Incorporating the Half-Note Triplet

by Bill Bachman

In previous articles we practiced the nine-over-two polyrhythm with various accent patterns and stickings within the grouping. This month we’re going to break up the polyrhythm by only playing six of the nine notes, using the half-note triplet as a framework. The figures will be isolated on each partial of the half-note triplet using each of our four sticking patterns from Part 2 of this series. 

It’s important to feel where the half-note-triplet accents fall relative to the downbeats. Exercise 1 will help you understand the rhythm’s relationship to the pulse. First count the whole rhythm out loud while emphasizing the accents—“1-trip-let, 2-trip-let, 3-trip-let, 4-trip-let.” Once this is comfortable, count quarter notes and half-note-triplet accents—“1, 2-trip, 3-let, 4.” Finally, count just the quarter notes while you play the half-note-triplet accent pattern. As always, use a metronome and tap your foot.

Strict Tech Nine over Two 1

Next we’re going to insert six-note groupings (derived from the nine-note polyrhythm) on each partial of the half-note triplet. We’ll use each of the four stickings from last month—singles, “puh-duh-duhs” (RLL), triple strokes, and paradiddle-diddles. Both the attack and release of each six-note phrase will always fall on a partial of the half-note triplet. Focus primarily on the accuracy of each figure’s first and last stroke, and make sure that the remaining notes always line up with the downbeat or half-note-triplet partials.

Strict Tech Nine over Two 2

Strict Tech Nine over Two 3

Strict Tech Nine over Two 3a

Strict Tech Nine over Two 4

Strict Tech Nine over Two 5

Finally, we’re going to vary stickings within the nine-over-two polyrhythm in different combinations. Some use two different stickings, while others use three. There are many combinations, but for now we’ll only look at a few. Afterward, come up with your own patterns. Remember to focus on the half-note or quarter-note triplet within each grouping.

Strict Tech Nine over Two 6

Strict Tech Nine over Two 7

Bill Bachman is an international drum clinician, the author of Stick Technique (Modern Drummer Publications), and the founder of For more information, including how to sign up for online lessons, visit