Syncopation Revisited 3/4 Applications 1We continue this month with more of my favorite ways of interpreting the classic Ted Reed book Progressive Steps to Syncopation for the Modern Drummer. This time we explore ways of converting the written manuscript from its original form to 3/4.

The following applications can be used with any of the seventy-two repetitive one-measure examples from pages 29, 30, and 33–36, or the thirty-two-measure “melodies” from pages 37–44 (of the original printing).

Let’s begin by taking a look at Example 1 from page 29.

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In converting that phrase to 3/4, three measures of the original manuscript will equal a four-measure phrase in 3/4.

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There are several ways that you can think about this conversion as you practice. First, try reading the original manuscript and omit the barlines in your mind. Another approach is to write new barlines in 3/4 with a red pen, so you can see each measure clearly in the new time signature. You can also rewrite the example on manuscript paper.

Once you have a grasp of the conversion, the next step is to take any of the one-measure reading examples or thirty-two-measure melodies and play them on the snare with the following five bass drum and hi-hat ostinatos.

Syncopation Revisited 3/4 Applications 4Now let’s apply 8th-note triplets, played hand to hand, under the written line in 3/4. Here’s Example 8 from page 29.

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Once you have that application under control, try leading the 8th-note triplets with accents with your left hand. Here’s Example 9 from page 33.

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Once you have dynamic control with your hands, try adding the previous bass drum and hi-hat ostinatos. Here’s the fourth ostinato with Example 33 from page 35.

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Next, experiment with the following triplet stickings: RLL, LRR, RRL, LLR, RLR-RLR, LRL-LRL, RRL-LRR, and LLR-RLL. Here’s the LRR-sticking Example 47 from page 36.

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Swing Coordination in 3/4

To develop coordination in 3/4, return to the bass drum and hi-hat ostinatos and apply the following ride cymbal rhythms.

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Once you’ve achieved a dynamic balance with your three limbs, try reading Syncopation in 3/4 on the snare. Here’s Example 4 from page 29 using the second ride cymbal rhythm with the fifth bass drum and hi-hat ostinato.

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Also try reading the examples in 3/4 with the bass drum, and substitute the snare for the bass drum ostinatos. In this excerpt, the snare is playing the third ostinato while the bass drum plays Example 4 from page 29.

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Next time we’ll explore ways to interpret Syncopation in 5/4.

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