Thursday, March 10, 2011

3-Part Polyrhythm Practice

Hello everyone. I'll keep this brief, as I've got reading to do and papers to write.

Firstly, watch this:

Now, here's the notation that reflects how I'm thinking about this exercise.

So, note that I'm always thinking of the lowest note as the 'beat.' When I practice this with two notes in the left hand and one in the right I think as the one in the right as the 'beat.'

The reason why I do it this way (as opposed to learning each permutation of voicing the beat in the three voices) is that modulation allows a greater variety of speed in rhythms. So, once I've modulated I'm free to play other rhythms that relate, in their difference in speed, to rhythms at the other two tempos.

In the video the metronome always is with the pulses five divisions apart. At a tempo of 54 b.p.m., this is the 'beat.' At the other tempos, that is a countermetrical pulse.


  1. Hi Marc,
    Fantastic!! Interestingly, you have developed in much greater depth, a polyrhythmic idea I have been working on for a number of months. I hope you don't mind that I have downloaded your notation and will spend sometime working on this.
    Thanks very much.
    Anthony Schulz

  2. Chaparral Andrew HodgesMarch 16, 2012 at 1:26 AM

    Hi Marc,
    Nice to see an intelligent approach to polyrhythm use - must come with the improvising territory. I don't know if you would be interested, but I have (self) published 5 books containing the first 2300 symmetrical polyrhythms. These are polyrhythms which combine specific rhythms in each hand rather than the metrical beats that you are using. You can see some on you tube (or search on Chaparral and Polyrhythm) Cheers, and keep up the innovative work. Andy