Bill Bachmanby Bill Bachman

Last month we got acquainted with quintuplets by using accent patterns and transitions with familiar rhythms. In this lesson we’ll superimpose quintuplets across two beats using a five-over-two polyrhythm and across three beats using a five-over-three polyrhythm.

As always, use your metronome, tap your foot, and count the rhythms out loud, making sure the downbeats line up perfectly. Try counting quarter notes as you play. Once you’re comfortable and the rhythms feel smooth, you’ll have much more to say behind the kit.

First we’ll look at a five-over-two grouping, or five notes superimposed over two beats. If we start with standard quintuplets (five partials to one beat) and accent every other note, the resulting accented rhythm is a five-over-two polyrhythm. In Exercise 1, we’ll do this and gradually drop the unaccented notes in order to play only the five-over-two rhythm. Follow the sticking closely so that you flow smoothly into the polyrhythm.




Next, to get comfortable with transitions, we’ll insert the five-over-two phrase into an exercise using familiar rhythms. Avoid slurring or morphing the rhythms from one to the next, and make each transition staccato and concise.




Now we’ll explore a five-over-three polyrhythm. We often use a common denominator as a reference with odd groupings, but in this case we’ll have to just feel it, making sure each group of five starts at the desired place and is played evenly.

The first example will be in 6/8. Because 6/8 is generally felt with two pulses and a triplet feel, the polyrhythm might feel as though you’re playing quintuplets on the downbeats. Set your metronome and tap your foot to the dotted quarter note.




Now we’ll do the same exercise in 3/4 time. The only thing that changes is where the beat is felt. Set your metronome and tap your foot on the quarter notes.




Next we’ll insert the five-over-three polyrhythm into 4/4 time, using familiar rhythms to get comfortable with the transitions.




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