3/2 Polyrhythm – Lesson 2 – Groove builder Copy

Lesson progress

In this lesson, we’re going to take the 3/2 polyrhythm pattern that we’re now used to playing, and turn it into a groove.

Exercise 1 – Ghost notes

First off, we’re going to lay down the foundations, counting twos on the hi-hat with your right hand (or whichever is your dominant hand) and ghost notes with the left, counting the threes. That looks like this:

We’re going to play this along to a 3/4 metronome counting at 180bpm. If you’ve gone through all the other lessons in this course so far, 180bpm sound be fine for you to start this exercise but of course, allow yourself to start slower if needed.

Loop exercise

Exercise 2 – kick and snare accent

You guessed it – we’re adding in a kick drum and snare drum accent now. Nothing crazy – just an accent on the first beat of each bar, starting with the kick on bar 1 and snare on bar 2.

We’re going to practice this first at 150bpm as it is introducing some complexity and we want to get the groove sounding nice and clean before we add more detail. One thing you may notice is that at this slower tempo, it can feel as though there’s not much groove – or that it’s harder to feel. Well, you’re correct – at slower tempos, some groove is definitely lost as there’s more time for our brains to make a mess in between the metronome clicks. One trick you can apply here is to add subdivisions – or in plain English – double the speed of the metronome. This will turn your quarter-note metronome into an eighth-note metronome – et voila! The groove magic returns… almost. It’s still difficult to play these things at slower speeds, but it’s important to practice things slower so that you truly absorb the sticking and movements required to play cleanly.

Loop exercise

Exercise 3 – Time travel

Now we’re going to mess with our perception of time. I’d like us to play this same beat but with a different metronome. Instead of 3/4 at 180bpm, we’re going to play 2/4 at 120bpm. The speed of the groove will not change because all we’re doing here is changing the metronome to count the twos of the 3/2 polyrhythm. This is what the groove looks like written in 2/4:

Loop exercise

Exercise 4 – The challenge

Now for the ultimate challenge. We’re going to play this groove to a metronome playing one bar of 3/4 at 180bpm, followed by one bar of 2/4 at 120bpm. I’ve included a metronome for you to play along to here:

Metronome: 3/4 at 180bpm, 2/4 at 120bpm

Loop exercise

Exercise 5 – Adding feel

Now let’s add some more detail to improve the overall feel of this groove. We’re going to add a couple more ghost notes in, and a couple of kick drums too.

Loop exercise

Exercise 6 – Emphasis on the two

Now we’re going to play this same groove but with the feel emphasis on the two, rather than the three.

Loop exercise

Exercise 7 – Define the end of the loop

It’s important to define the beginning and end of a loop, or a groove. It gives structure to the composition, feels good to play and can be as simple and effective as adding one or two accents to your existing groove.

To do this with the groove we’re working on, I’m going to play eight bars in total, two repetitions of the pattern, and at the end of the second repetition (at end of the eighth bar) I’m going to add a snare accent, and then come back in at the beginning of the loop with a crash cymbal.

Loop exercise

Exercise 8 – Even more feeeeel!

Oh yes, we’re going to add even more feel into this groove.

We’re changing out the fourth bar for this almost-linear pattern. The key is to get the dynamics right this to pop. Get the ghost note in the middle real quiet and I like to play the first kick drum (in the fourth bar) quieter than the second. Check it out in this video:

Loop exercise

Exercise 9 – Jam with me

I’d like you to loop the groove we’ve just learned. At the end of the 2nd or 4th repetition, throw in a drum fill. It can be anything – one of your go-to fills, a couple of toms followed by a simple crash cymbal – anything. The goal here is to get used to looping this groove with your own flair at the end.

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