TOP

Polymetric Accompaniment

Most of the best drumming is polymetric, which means more than one meter. Usually, this is a "2 against 3" (2- 3), which refers to some multiple of 2 (2, 4, 8, or 16) against some multiple of 3 (3, 6, 9, 12, 18, or 24). The simplest standard one of these would be an Afro-Cuban Abacua:

 

|1 2 3 4 5 6|1 2 3 4 5 6|

|O   t   O  |t   O   t  |

|O   t t   t|O   t t   t|

 

This illustrates a "signature" geometry of 2-3, in this form called "unison-tri-an-gle". This refers to the unison of open tones on the 1, and the triangle of open tones near the middle of the rhythm. You can sing the triangle, using one syllable for each open tone. This figure shows up in many 2-3 rhythms.

 

Practicing this one with the left and right hands as shown will help you get the feel of this "signature":

 

(One player, two drums. -Luis)

 

|1 2 3 1 2 3|1 2 3 1 2 3|

|S     S    |S     S    | left hand

|O   O   O  |O   O   O  | right hand

 

This next one has large and small triangles:

 

If someone is playing this:

 

|1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &|

|B     O B   O  | a Calypso

 

and you play this:

 

1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 3 ....

O S   O S   O S   .... a ternary hockett

 

The result is: (go by the pulse, not the beat. -Luis)

 

|1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &|1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &|1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &|

|S   O S   O S  |O S   O S   O S|  O S   O S   O|

|B     O B   O  |B     O B   O  |B     O B   O  |

                       ^(it's easiest to catch the hockett here.  Luis)

 

The rhythm becomes 3 times as long. The Calypso has to be repeated 3 times and each Calypso measure sounds different. It transforms the relative flatness of the Calypso into something more mysterious and sensual.

 

This one is much more difficult:

 

|1  &  2  &  3  &  4  & |1  &  2  &  3  &  4  & |

|1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 3|1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 3|

|  O               O    |          O            | quinto

|O     t  O  t     B  t |t     t  t  t     B  t | conga

 r     l  r  l     r  l  r     l  r  l     r  l

 

the conga is playing a guaguanco pattern.

 

To do this one you must target the two B notes. One of them you unison with, the other becomes part of the triangle. You have to target your first note, concentrate on the melody (unison-tri-an-gle), and play very evenly. This type of figure is called "broad" and you would be chopping the rhythm in thirds.

 

Here is another, denser Abacua which shows a "W" figure:

 

|1 2 3 1 2 3|1 2 3 1 2 3|

|O t   O t  |O t   O t  |

|O   t   O  |t   O   t  |

 

The point of all this is the geometry of typical polymetric structures, and how knowing the geometry can help you use polymetrics in accompaniment.

 

The more natural form of polymetrics is when you have a rhythm of 12 length and you add some binary figure to it:

 

|1 2 3 1 2 3|1 2 3 1 2 3|

|S   O S   O|S   O S   O|

|O O O   O O|O   O O O  |  this is the binary,

                           3 notes + 1 rest = 4 (3x4=12)

 

When the figure you add is binary throughout, as above, you should be careful that it doesn't dominate and change the beat. Of course, you could use a linear polymetric, something partially in binary and partially supporting the ternary beat:

 

|1 2 3 1 2 3|1 2 3 1 2 3|

|S   O S   O|S   O S   O|

|P   O   O  |P   O P   O|

 

Here are some more examples of polymetric accompaniment:

 

|1 2 3 1 2 3|1 2 3 1 2 3|

|S   O S   O|S   O S   O|

|B   O   B  |O   B   O  |

 

|1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & 5 & 6 &|

|O O   O O   O O   O O  |

|B       B       B      |

 

bell (X) is long binary

 

|1 2 3 4 5 6 1 2 3 4 5 6|1 2 3 4 5 6 1 2 3 4 5 6|

|X   X   X       X   X  |X       X   X   X      |

|O   O O O   O O O   O O|O   O O O   O O O   O O| binary

|B           B          |B           B          | ternary

 

(Note the bottom meter line in this next example. -Luis)

 

|1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &|1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &|1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &|

|X X   X X   X  |X X   X X   X  |X X   X X   X  |

|X   X   X X   X   X   X|X   X   X X   X   X   X|

|1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 3|1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 3|

 

Complex Polymetric

 

|1   2   3   1   2   3 |

|P   t   S   P   O   O |

 l   l   r   l   r   r

|1  &  2  &  3  &  4  &|

|O  O  t     t  t  t   |

 r  l  r     l  r  l

 

|1  &  2  &  3  &  4  &  1  &  2  &  3  &  4  &|

|X     X     X  X     X  X     X  X     X     X|

|3   4   5   6   1   2   3   4   5   6   1   2 |

|    X       X           X       X           X |

 

 

Jim's Notes: A Course in Drumming

TOP