Jazz Drummer’s Workshop

Rhythmic Conversions

Part 3: Half-Note Triplets

by Steve Fidyk

For this lesson we’ll be focusing on the converted triplet material from Part 1 of this series, which ran in the May, 2016 issue of MD. Specifically, we’ll be using the half-note-triplet accent within each rhythmic conversion as a device to superimpose a new tempo over the true pulse. I strongly recommend that you practice this material with a metronome and work through each pattern slowly at first until you gain full control. In order to resolve these superimposed rhythms organically with a band, it’s essential to confidently feel each triplet subdivision. Otherwise the superimposition will be unsettled and inconsistent. 

We’ll start by taking a look at Exercise 2 from Part 1. This accent pattern creates a three-against-four polyrhythm over the existing quarter-note pulse and outlines a half-note triplet.

Rhythmic Conversions 1

This accent pattern cycles consistently every fourth triplet partial, so try coming up with sticking patterns that fit comfortably within this grouping. The single paradiddle is one obvious choice. The example below illustrates the half-note triplet accent pattern voiced between the snare and the ride cymbal with the bass drum. When applied as a time pattern, these conversions give the illusion of a funk groove camouflaged within your swing feel. Try practicing four measures of swing time followed by four measures of Exercise 2. Practicing this transition will help you gain confidence when you try these ideas with a band.

Rhythmic Conversions 2

Once you have control of the original pulse against the half-note triplet, try working through these additional bass drum variations.

Rhythmic Conversions 3

Rhythmic Conversions 4

Next we’ll distribute a longer accent pattern between the snare and the ride cymbal with the bass drum while using a right-hand-lead single-paradiddle sticking.

Rhythmic Conversions 5

Finally, we’ll displace the single-paradiddle sticking forward by one 8th-note triplet partial. This variation gives the illusion of an Afro-Cuban tumbaó feel within the swing pulse.

Rhythmic Conversions 6

Be creative with these examples, and have fun with them. Apply this concept to accented-8th-note reading material from your personal library. Also try converting your own one-measure examples to 8th-note triplets. Next time we’ll explore additional ways of swinging on the half-note triplet.

Steve Fidyk has performed with Terell Stafford, Tim Warfield, Dick Oatts, Doc Severinsen, Wayne Bergeron, Phil Wilson, and Maureen McGovern, and he’s a member of the jazz studies faculty at Temple University in Philadelphia. For more info, including how to sign up for lessons via Skype, visit stevefidyk.com.