Quintuplets – Lesson 1

In this lesson, we’ll explore the world of quintuplets. We’ll start by answering the first question: “what is a quintuplet?”

This is a quintuplet – or more precisely, this is five quintuplets within one bar of 5/4. In the same way that you’d play a triplet (a group of three) within a quarter note count, a quintuplet is a group of five notes plated within a designated note count. In this example, the count is quarter notes, so we’re playing sixteenth-note quintuplets.

I’m going to take you through five exercises in this lesson, designed to help you discover a level of comfort with this, at first, quite-uncomfortable feel.

Why is this useful? You’ve probably heard drummers talk about metric modulation and implied metric modulation? If you can get the ‘feel’ down that I present to you in this lesson, using quintuplets as a way to group notes – against a quarter-note count, you will be applying metric modulation.

Quintuplets are a very neat way to express five-stroke rolls, in my opinion, and once you unlock the ability to drop into a quintuplet feel, you can put together some incredibly dynamic faster drum fills and very tasty grooves.

Transcription and Guitar Pro File

Exercise 1 – Quintuplet

Let’s start out by working on our quintuplet feel – getting used to playing a grouping of five to a quarter note. I like to place an accent on the third note within the quintuplet, making the other notes quiet ghost notes. This helps to develop dynamic control alongside developing this new feel.

An important thing to mention – in this example, I’m playing the same sticking pattern as quintuplets, but I’m also practicing it across multiple voices on the kit. Get used to playing it on one instrument first, then start to voice it across other drums once you have the feel down.

Exercise 2 – Five Stroke Roll into a Quintuplet

In this exercise, we’re going to practice transitioning from a 16th note feel into a quintuplet feel. We’re going to do this by using the five-stroke roll, which you should have some familiarity with if you’ve worked through my Five-Stroke Roll lessons. If you can play this exercise, you are successfully performing implied metric modulation – this is where the listener might think the tempo of what you’re playing has increased for a short measure, but as the drummer, you are still very much feeling the original pulse.

This can take some time to develop, so take it slowly if it feels awkward at first.

Exercise 3 – Five Stroke Roll into a Quintuplet, alternate voicing

Next, let’s practice the same pattern but with alternate voicing (playing across other drums). This is important to do because the difference in sound can be enough to throw us off-flow with a pattern, or sometimes the feel of playing on a different drum can do this too.

Exercise 4 – 4/4 Five Stroke Roll / Quintuplet transition

We’ve so far been practicing to a 5/4 metronome count as it enables the five-stroke roll to naturally repeat after five quarter notes – let’s explore what happens if we change the time signature to 4/4.

We won’t be able to complete the full cycle of five-stroke rolls, so in the first bar, we’ll end on a right-hand 16th-note, creating a double-stroke into the first quintuplet in bar 2.

Exercise 5 – Groove development

If you are sitting comfortably with the other exercises in this lesson, let’s try turning this into an underlying pattern for groove. I’m going to use kick, snare, and hi-hat for this, realizing the five-stroke roll on the kick and snare (as ghost notes), and alongside that five-stroke roll, I’ll move the quarter-note count up onto the right hand.

For the second bar, where we’re playing a quintuplet, my right hand is going to play the exact same pattern as the kick drum. I’m going to push the second of each hi-hat hit too so that it’s a little louder. Throughout the second bar, the first kick and hi-hat strike within each grouping of five is where the metronome will land.

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