Thursday, August 27, 2009


akis 3/5/2005 5:55 AM
Hello Don! I hope you're doing great. I would like you to give me some suggestions on how to practice polyrhythms in order to incorporate them into my playing fluently. Thank you very much, Akis

Don Mock 3/7/2005 11:32 PM
Akis, that's a very tough question to answer. Poly-rhythms are typically one or more rhythms going on at the same time. John McLaughlin’s Birds of Fire is an good example. He plays an arpeggiated guitar part in 18/8 (felt in 3) while the band plays a rock 9/4 phrase at the same time. The two parts are very contrary but work together very well. Getting these kinds of things in your playing is to clearly understand and “feel” various combinations that are useful. You might be thinking of rhythmic syncopation and subdivisions. This is where to start by learning, for example, to play a lick or melody in 1/4 notes, 1/8ths, 16th, 1/4 and 1/8th note triplets. You should also play rhythm parts in various time signatures such as 5/4 or 7/4 or 11/8. 11/8 is good cause it can be played in a “four” feel counting these three subdivisions; “1-2-3-4 5-6-7-8 9-10-11.” Or play it in a “three” feel; “1-2-3 4-5-6 7-8-9 10-11.” Hope this gets you thinking in the right direction. - Don Mock

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