In this article we’re going to cover how to feel quintuplets using an Indian counting system. There are many different variations, but the syllables I like to use are ta, ka, din, ah, and gah, which are easy to pronounce and can be strung together very quickly once you’re comfortable with them.
Start without using a metronome and put emphasis on the first syllable, ta, as it’s landing on the quarter-note pulse. This is the most important note of the quintuplet, so if you don’t have that landing solidly on the pulse, nothing you do is going to feel solid.
Now turn on your metronome and set it at a slow tempo. Don’t worry about speed; precision is key. Play along with your quintuplet counting, using alternating single strokes.
Before we move on to the variations, it’s important to be able to play all of the examples into and out of subdivisions that you’re more comfortable with, like 16th notes. You can add the bass drum and hi-hat on quarter notes to help reinforce the pulse.
What follows is every rhythmic variation within a single quintuplet grouping. Practice these the same way as you did Example 1. Play each as an accent within the quintuplet, and keep both hands on the snare for now. Be sure to vocalize the entire quintuplet and continue to put emphasis on the first note, ta. Add the bass drum and hi-hat underneath to help you feel the pulse.
Also be sure to practice each example into and out of a measure of 16th notes. If you work only the fives on their own, you’ll have no perspective on how they relate to other subdivisions.
Aaron Edgar is a Canada-based musician/clinician who teaches privately and on Drumeo.com. For more info, visit aaronedgardrum.com.