In this lesson we’ll superimpose a new tempo over an existing pulse using a half-note-triplet subdivision. We’ll then manipulate the subdivision to create Brazilian grooves in the new tempo. I recommend that you practice these patterns with a metronome and work through them slowly until you gain control of the rhythm.

Accenting every fourth 8th note in the following two-measure triplet pattern creates a three-against-four polyrhythm over the quarter-note pulse. This accent pattern outlines a half-note triplet.

Once you can feel the half-note-triplet accent pattern, omit the 8th note that precedes each accent.

Now move this rhythm to the ride, and play the accents on the bell.

Next, try orchestrating the rhythm with your feet.

Now we’ll combine the hands and feet in unison. This pattern creates a Brazilian samba ostinato superimposed over the half-note triplet.

You can also try orchestrating the rhythm on the hi-hat, which produces a guiro-type sound when you open the cymbals on each accent.

In order to resolve these superimposed rhythms, it’s important to be able to feel the triplet subdivision confidently. As you practice, keep in mind that repeating Exercises 2–6 once creates a three-measure phrase in the new implied tempo.

Now we’ll add snare and tom rhythms to create more intricate Brazilian grooves in the superimposed tempo. Exercises 7 and 8 are two options.

Exercise 9 has a samba rhythm orchestrated between the tom and rimclick.

Here’s a groove with a superimposed partido alto rhythm.

Exercises 11 and 12 contain surdo variations voiced on the floor tom.

These are just a few Brazilian-style possibilities. Experiment and superimpose your own patterns using these concepts. Have fun, remain patient, and always use a metronome. Next time we’ll explore ways of superimposing funk grooves over half-note triplets.

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