Polyrhythmic phrases contrast with typical pulses. We can create polyrhythms by playing groupings that don’t fit evenly within a typical subdivision. For example, let’s examine a 16th-note subdivision (four partials per beat). Playing every third 16th note over three quarter notes results in four equally spaced notes over three beats, which is a four-over-three polyrhythm. In Exercise 1, we’ll explore this with a measure of 16th notes on the hi-hat. Play quarter notes on the bass drum to represent the three-beat pulse and bottom half of the polyrhythm. We’ll play every third 16th-note on the snare to represent the four side of the polyrhythm, which is our contrasting layer.
Introduction to Polyrhythms
How to Play Odd Groupings, Part 1