In the past few years, musical styles have been changed, fused, and molded to produce some of the most technically challenging music ever written. Almost all styles of music now deviate from normal duple- and triple-beat subdivisions, and use divisions of five, seven, or more. Most of the exercises now in wide use by students and professionals don’t do all they can to prepare the player for such subdivisions. This article is geared toward giving you another tool to deal with these subdivisions.

What many players fail to realize is that short roll exercises contain all the basic odd-beat subdivisions in a slightly masked form. The larger wrist motion (RLRL) of some short rolls outline odd-beat subdivisions. Study the following example:

Odd Beat Subdivisions 1

By leaving out the doubles of the 11-stroke roll, you’re left with what is a subdivision of five equally spaced notes a quintuplet on beats two and four. Playing the accents notated should help you “feel” the quintuplet.

Odd Beat Subdivisions 2

Study the following example:

Odd Beat Subdivisions 3

Again, by leaving out the double strokes of the rolls, you’re left with what is a subdivision of seven equally spaced notes a septuple! an beats two and four.

Odd Beat Subdivisions 4

Exercises 2 and 4 may be played with the following accent patterns until you’re comfortable with the feeling of five and seven. You should strive to feel five- and seven-note groupings without accents, but use the following until the groupings become familiar.

Odd Beat Subdivisions 5

The following are a few of the exercises I use to help prepare myself technically and mentally for odd subdivisions of five and seven. Begin each sticking exercise with the notated 16th notes or sextuplets, respectively, so the metric modulation is felt. Play each sticking pattern 15 to 20 times before moving on to the next one, and don’t pause in between. Be sure to always practice these exercises with a metronome. Try reversing all of the stickings.

Odd Beat Subdivisions 6