In this lesson we’ll superimpose a new tempo over an existing pulse using a half-note triplet, and we’ll manipulate the subdivision to create funk grooves in the implied pulse. Be sure to practice these patterns with a metronome and work through each slowly until you gain control of the rhythm.

Accenting every fourth 8th-note-triplet partial in a two-measure phrase of triplets creates a three-against-four polyrhythm over the existing quarter-note pulse. These accents outline the half-note triplet.

Once you can comfortably feel and accent the half-note triplet, try orchestrating it on the hi-hat with your dominant hand.

Next, play the half-note-triplet with the bass drum while playing every other half-note-triplet partial on the snare. The resulting funk groove has a four-on-the-floor feel superimposed over the original pulse.

When played as a time pattern, this conversion gives the illusion of a funk groove camouflaged within a swing feel. Try practicing four measures of swing time followed by four measures of Exercise 3. Practicing the transition in four-bar phrases will help you gain confidence when applying this concept with a band.

Next, experiment with the following bass drum rhythms while playing the hand pattern from Exercise 3.

You can also experiment with different hand patterns and stickings, as demonstrated in Exercises 9–12.

These are just a few possibilities. I encourage you to come up with your own funk patterns using this concept. Be patient, and have fun!

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