Developing Independence: Adding The Left Foot

In our previous lesson we added bass drum permutations comprised of four sixteenth-notes to our established snare drum patterns while counting in five sixteenth-notes. So far we have played patterns in the same pulse as our snare drum systems – whether grouped in three, four, or five, they were all in sixteenth-note subdivisions.

It’s time to change that and also introduce our left foot to the world of independence.

We’re going to play eighth-note triplets with both of our feet (one at the time) on top of our sixteenth-note snare drum patterns and, when comfortable, we will begin counting in seven on top. (For better understanding and clarity, I play the eighth-note triplets on hi-hats with both feet).

At first, spend some time getting used to the triplet pattern with your feet on top of the RLRL snare drum pattern before moving onto other patterns. It is very important to get used to hearing the sixteenth-note snare drum flow (regardless of the given pattern) while playing eighth-note triplets with your feet. Muscle memory must take over your triplets in order to succeed and move on. I know – it’s easier said than done.

It’s comfortable to feel the linear three-against-four polyrhythm created between your hands and feet in this lesson, but please avoid forcing the first note of the triplet to match up with the beginning of the patterns played by your hands. Once you move beyond simple four-note single-stroke hand patterns, it will be much harder to lean on this metric crutch. Now that we are dealing with a new pulse based on triplets, remember that exercises have to be in relationship to time – the master code – not to each other.

Do not accent any notes. Snare drum, hi-hat, and counting patterns should all be even in volume. Here are the snare drum sticking patterns to use with this lesson:

RLRL*
LRLR
RRLL*
LLRR
RLRR LRLL*
RLRLRR LRLRLL*
RLRRLL*
LRLLRR
RRRRLLLL*
RRR LLL*

[*] = Patterns used in the video, but you should practice all of them regardless of how similar they seem.

Repetition is the mother of success. Please spend a lot of time on these exercises. I hope this lesson has opened the door to a beautiful new world of polyrhythm.

See you next time.

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