Rock Perspectives

A Practical Application of Swiss Army Triplets

by David Garibaldi

The Swiss Army triplet was shown to me several years ago by Keith Knudsen of The Doobie Brothers. Since that time I’ve found many uses for it, one of which I’d like to share with you. This application of Swiss triplets will show you in a simple way (1) The relevancy of rudiments in contemporary drum set playing (2) How to control accents (3) How to develop more sticking patterns of your own (4) Touch/sensitivity because of the mixture of accented and unaccented notes utilized in this concept.

Let’s begin with the basic triplet figure:

Swiss Army Triplets 1

. . . this might help . . .

Swiss Army Triplets 2

. . . convert this to 16th notes . . .

Swiss Army Triplets 3

. . . cycle repeats every 3 bars . . .

Swiss Army Triplets 4

Repeat the same but instead of accenting with the flams, accent on every eighth-note.Swiss Army Triplets 5

Repeat again only this time instead of accenting eighth-notes, accent the second and fourth notes of each beat (*)

Swiss Army Triplets 6

Play 4 and 5 together (6 bar phrase) and repeat. Play one-bar eighth-note accents, then one-bar sixteenth-note accents and repeat. Now, using this concept (Swiss triplets converted to 16th notes) interpret the following written notes as accents, as you play the 16th-note sticking. Example:

Swiss Army Triplets 7

Remember, the sticking changes because of the 3 bar cycle.

Swiss Army Triplets 8

One you are familiar with the above exercises, they can be done in the following ways:
Play all exercises on s.d. only; quarter notes with both feet.
Play all exercises on s.d. only; samba pattern with feet.
Play on two sound sources such as right hand on h.h., left hand on s.d.; or left hand on h.h., right hand on tom-tom, quarter notes with right foot on bass drum.
Play right hand on cymbal, left hand on s.d., quarter notes
Ex.9 with both feet or samba foot pattern.

(Remember to play all unaccented notes very softly.)

Play exercises 1-8 together without repeats as one long phrase.
Play exercises together with repeats in the sequence of 1,5,2,6,3,7.
Use this samba foot pattern: (Ex. 9)

Swiss Army Triplets 9

When this material is mastered, go through any popular reading text (Bellson’s Reading Text in 414 or Ted Reed’s Syncopation) using this system. You’ll have less and less trouble with accent control after working at this for a few weeks.

Copyright 1981 John David Garibaldi