Rhythmic Conversions

Part 1: Modulating Accented 8th-Note Phrases

by Steve Fidyk

For Part 1 of this series, we’ll focus on accented 8th-note phrases and convert them into triplet patterns. I find this concept beneficial for students who struggle to create an even and consistent drumset flow when trading fours and improvising over tunes. 

Let’s begin by reading an accented two-measure phrase. As you play, focus on keeping the accented and unaccented notes consistent.

Rhythmic Conversions 1

Once you have the accented 8th notes under control, try reading the pattern as 8th-note triplets. Repeating two measures of the 8th-note phrase three times is equal to four measures of triplets. When converted, the accents create a three-against-four polyrhythm over the quarter-note pulse that outlines a half-note triplet.

Rhythmic Conversions 2

Here are five two-measure 8th-note phrases that are converted to triplets. Keep each rhythm’s flow consistent as you coordinate the accents.

Rhythmic Conversions 3

Once you have control of each two-measure conversion, try combining phrases. This four-measure example mixes Exercises 4 and 6.

Rhythmic Conversions 4

Try applying this concept to accented 8th-note reading material from your personal library. I also encourage you to write or transcribe your favorite 8th-note patterns and try converting them to 8th-note triplets. In our next lesson, we’ll explore ways of orchestrating these ideas with accompanying bass drum and hi-hat foot variations. Have fun!

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 stevefidyk.com.