Rock Perspectives

Converting Those Old Rhythms, Part II

by David Garibaldi


In Part I we learned how to play a shuffle properly and how to apply it to a “half-time, shuffle-funk” concept. In Part II we’ll explore this idea further with an emphasis on more complicated patterns. The basic approach is the same: converting 16th note rhythms to 24th notes to produce an underlying triplet feel. This can be done with any 16th note pattern in your repertoire, but you must first sit down and think about the coordination of the hands and feet. The goal is to combine a disciplined, free thinking mental approach with an excellent time feel. Both go hand in hand. Without one or the other, you’ll be an excellent timekeeper with no exciting ideas, or you’ll be too mechanical and intellectual to be practical. Being an excellent timekeeper should be the primary consideration. Then, with a solid technical foundation you can develop stylistically. 

One excellent way to aid in this development is to write your specific idea or pattern on paper so you can  how the limbs work together. Writing the patterns on paper will give you a visual representation of your ideas. (Reading is a must). After a few of these sessions, you’ll have the makings of a catalog of ideas and concepts that will be of real value to you in the future as you develop stylistically.

To further illustrate this conversion process, I’ve chosen two rhythms: ( 1 ) A 4/4 pattern from MD May/June 1979—”Theme and Variations.” (2) An 11/8 pattern that I developed during a brief stint with Kitty Hawk.

Converting old Rhythms 1

Convert this to 24th notes.

Converting old Rhythms 2
Now, by recoordinating the left hand and adding the left foot, we get the same basic pattern but with an underlying triplet feel:

Converting old Rhythms 3

Next is the 11/8 pattern. An expanded notation system is used for more clarity. I think of this as 5/4 plus 1/8.

Converting old Rhythms 4

Note: This note is sounded by the left foot only. Do not play w/right hand.

Converting old Rhythms 5

Follow the same conversion process:

Converting old Rhythms 6

Again, we recoordinate the left hand and add more left foot to produce the triplet feel:

Converting old Rhythms 7

All the right hand parts can be played on other sound sources: cowbells, “trashy” cymbals, cup chimes or any other bell-like percussion instruments. Remember to play all unaccented notes very softly—match the sound of the H.H. and S.D. on unaccented notes and all accented notes of equal force with respect to dynamic markings. (The dynamics used are at your discretion. Vary the dynamics to avoid “one-sidedness.” During your practice time utilize all the dynamic markings.)

Added thought to aid your study/practice time: the more of the 5 senses that you incorporate into the learning process, the more anchored in your mind the ideas become. All information in the physical realm comes to us via one or more of the 5 senses. In playing the drum set we use 3 of the 5 senses: (1) Seeing. (2) Hearing. (3) Touch. Think about it. See you next time.

Copyright 1981 John David Garibaldi.