Peter Erskine: Indian & Brazilian Rhythm Trick

India Meets Brazil

Peter Erskine
Originally published in DRUM! Magazine’s December 2005 Issue

Challenge: Read Ex. 1!

Tricky! Famed Indian musician, composer, and sitar master Ravi Shankar showed this to jazz musician and bandleader Don Ellis in the 1960s. This is a fascinating rhythmic study. Taking the subdivisions 3-3-2 with an accent at the beginning of each group, we have a phrase that sounds very much like the Brazilian baião in Ex. 2 and 3.

Now, instead of treating the rhythm in duple fashion, let’s have fun and utilize the grouping as a series of accented eighth-note triplets in 4/4. Here’s the same rhythm (Ex. 4) with more visual clues and explanatory tuplet markings.

Try incorporating this at the kit!

Peter Erskine has played with Weather Report, Steps Ahead, and the Stan Kenton Orchestra, and holds an Honorary Doctor of Music degree from Berklee School of Music.

Get the How To Tune Drums Minibook when you subscribe to our newsletter