Thursday, January 22, 2015

Drill: My Favorite Drill

If you've read my blog over the years, you'll see I often mention the duple over the triple, 2 over 3, 3 over 4, how and why patterns in 3 end up in so many solos, etc.

The drill today is one I've been playing with for years.  I'm likely to put some of the patterns into a song in the future, as well!  It's a drill you can customize and play with to adjust the difficulty and usefulness.

- You NEED a metronome.  It's very easy to think you're doing it right and be off without one.
- Each step gets progressively harder, but you can adjust the tempo and increase the repetition of segments to whatever works for you.

Step One:

This is a "primer" for getting into the feel of the triple meter.  Four triplets followed by 12 straight beats.  If the triplets are new to you, cycle them for a while.  If you feel this is easy, feel free to move on.

Step Two:

This is where things start happening.  Four triplets as before, followed by three doro-tsuku.  At first, you may feel a sense of disconnect, as the doro-tsuku don't feel like they fit.  But fit they do!  There are two things that will help:
  • Make sure your hands are playing every note.  The drill in Step One had you playing the same notes, but without accents in the 2nd half.
  • Know where the metronome beats fall.   DO-ro-tsu-KU-do-ro-TSU-ku-do-RO-tsu-ku.  This may totally mess you up at first, but for some of you it might provide anchor points.
  • Slow it down on your metronome if you need to!
Step Three:

This is just Step Two at a faster tempo.  For me, I find this a lot easier than Step Two because it starts feeling like a melodic line rather than just rhythmic.  I can feel the groove of the pattern and not have to think of where the notes should go.

Step Four:

This is where things can get very difficult, but also where you can start customizing this drill.  Ultimately, it's just math:
  • One triplet = 3.  Four triplets = 3 + 3 + 3 + 3 = 12 notes.
  • One doro-tsuku = 4.  Three doro-tsuku = 4 + 4 + 4 = 12 notes.
  • 3 + 3 + 3 + 3 + 4 + 4 + 4 = 24
  • Knowing this, you can shift the 3s and 4s around and create some really interesting patterns.
    • At first, keep the triplets in pairs (3 + 3).  One triplet by itself adds more difficulty that you want to stay away from at first.

The video for Step Four is as follows:
  • 3 + 3 + 3 + 3 + 4 + 4 + 4
    • Four triplets then three doro-tsuku (x4).  The same pattern from Step Two and Three.
  • 3 + 3 + 4 + 4 + 3 + 3 + 4
    • My favorite combination of these two patterns.
  • 4 + 3 + 3 + 4 + 4 + 3 + 3
    • This one is tricky but I'll let you figure out how it feels.  It's just the last pattern in reverse.
  • 3 + 4 + 4 + 4 + 3 + 3 + 3
    • Giving you a taste of splitting the triplets up.  Trust your hands and make sure you play every note so you come back on the triplets.
Step Five:

This is just Step Four at a faster tempo.  Like in Step Three, hearing patterns faster sometimes makes them easier to play, but don't rush to play at this tempo until you feel comfortable at a slower tempo.

Step Zero:

This felt best put at the end, but it's not actually all that hard.  If you want to just feel how these patterns lock into the downbeat, play triplets along to the metronome while listening to the videos.  You'll hear how things lock in and it'll let you know that I'm not making this up!


You can easily make up your own patterns using the math and see what it sounds like.  Some patterns will sound better than others, for sure.

You might feel like this isn't all that useful because you don't solo in three.  While the feeling of this drill is in three, it could easily be in four.  The goal of this drill isn't to play these patterns, it's to be more adept at feeling how patterns fit no matter what meter you're in, what ji you have, etc.  The drill is just a method to get there.

So how did this drill work for you?  I'd love to know after you spend some time on it.  Have fun!

1 comment:

  1. I love the one triplet en doro tsuku, nice excercise.