Triplets are fun!
They have a relaxed & rollin-along sort of feel that is very different from all the other rhythms. Like rolling a ball instead of bouncing it.
They are used in all genres.
The “feel-good” music of early Jazz, Rock’n Roll, Blues, Country, Hip-Hop — all of these depended on triplets as the basis for hundreds, even thousands of songs.
The best way to learn it, is to feel it… experience it.
You’ll hear it at the GRAMMY awards each year. But it is one of the oldest rhythms we know, from earliest African traditions.
European traditions were based on notes being divided equally, into 2 or 4 parts. They used triplets, but as a variation… not the norm.
Many of the African dances and rhythm patterns were based on the basic pulse having 3 parts.These grooves were powerful and effective for calling people together for celebrations or preparation for war.
The potential for multiple rhythms, unexpected accents and syncopation is huge. Those drummers could work folks into a dancing frenzy long before DJ’s arrived. : )
Thousands of years later, a triplet groove still MAKES YOU SHAKE YOUR GROOVE THANG.
IT JUST DOES.
Ever heard Stevie Wonder’s “Isn’t She Lovely?” Can you listen to that without smiling and moving something. If so, you’re 6 feet under and just haven’t noticed, yet.
It’s a great example of the whole band just laying it down fat & funky while Stevie does his thing over the top.
Check out the chart below to see the triplet’s value in relation to the quarter note.
THE FEEL OF A TRIPLET
It isn’t square, but is evenly spaced.
It “rounds the edges” of the beat, but is rhythmically precise.
You can’t cut it in half, like eighth & sixteenth notes, but it does have a front and a back.
It doesn’t go up & down like a March, but is steady as a rock.
It swings… and is used in Swing & Jazz music countless ways.
It shuffles. A term that drummers use often to describe a feel used in all genres, from Hip-Hop to Country.
If you haven’t read our other rhythm pages, you might want to start with Quarter Notes.
The more you practice, the more you learn to “round out those edges” and work that feel…no matter if it’s jazz, country, or hip-hop! You’ll be rollin’ along!
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