I struggle with a lot rhythmic elements, but I think the main things are, demisemiquavers (just how to feel or count them in a crotchet feel without having to subdivide so much, (like counting semi quavers as 1,e,&,a) and beyond, and even after reading your amazing book, which helped me a lot (thank you), I still struggle with some aspects of polyrhythms.
Something that you didn't seem to touch on much was quadruplets, just not knowing how to subdivide them and so on.
Another thing I still struggle with is say you have a quaver triplet but then add 2 semiquavers on second attack, or other various rhythms, that aren't exactly another polyrhythm inside a polyrhythm. I don't understand how to subdivide or count those rhythms.
I’m glad that the book has helped you a lot.
I love your questions because they deal with the “practice mindset”, as well as alternate ways to think about certain concepts. Sometimes the best way to learn a concept is by employing other ones that are a bit more familiar to us.
Regarding demisemiquavers/ 32nd notes, I have the following tip:
1. Try counting quaver/8th note syllables and “drum” 4 equal hits per syllable. (Practice slowly and build up your speed!)
2. You mentioned not being able to play demisemiquavers/32nd notes in a crotchet/quarter note feel. Personally, I prefer counting them over quavers/8th notes, as it almost “feels” as playing semiquavers/ 16th notes over crotchets/quarter notes. By doing it that way, you have two places to calibrate the speed of your rhythmic figures instead of one. Exaggerating the downbeat and upbeat motions with your head and/or foot will help you keep track of crotchets and quaver/quarter notes and 8th notes.
3. A lot of these problems are reduced when you practice your tuplets, because they force you to distribute a high amount of notes equally over a space of time. For practicing tuplets, you can start by imagining them as odd meter bars where only the “one” is marked by the metronome. (i.e. for a quintuplet, pretend that you are playing a bar of 5/8 where only the first quaver/8th note is marked by the metronome.)
Pages 16-21 are dedicated to the subject. In these pages you will find how to construct, dissect and divide these polyrhythms. Pages 20-21 have a musical example, which you could download the audio for, use for practice, and listen to.
I didn’t touch on quadruplets that run over 6 crotchets/quarter notes because the dissection/construction process is already displayed in the book.
Having said that, the quadruplet subdivisions you are looking for are the following:
- For a quadruplet that spans over 6 crotchets/quarter notes, the subdivision is a dotted quaver/8th note.
- For a quadruplet that spans over 6 quavers/ 8th notes, the subdivision is a dotted semiquaver/16th note.
For any other quadruplet you might think of, (and you will think of a lot if you keep looking for them), just apply the polyrhythm construction principles shown in the book.
Quaver triplets with 2 semiquavers on the second attack
(A.K.A. Eighth note triplets with two sixteenths on the second eighth note.)
There are a couple of ways of looking at these:
1. A sextuplet where the first 2 and last two semiquavers/ 16th notes have been “joined” to form a quaver/ 8th note.
2. You could “pretend” that the triplet is a bar of 3/8 with two semiquavers/16th notes in the second quaver/8th note. When doing this, tap the crotchet/ quarter note pulse from the first tempo with your foot throughout the “modulation”.
3. You could pretend that the triplet is a bar of 3/4 with two quavers/8th notes in the second crotchet/quarter note. When doing this, tap the crotchet/quarter note pulse from the first tempo with your foot throughout the “modulation”.
Hopefully, these examples will help you practice and get more familiar with the concepts. Always remember to mark the pulse and keep track of where the one is.
Practicing concepts from a different perspective is beneficial because it allows us to explore their nuances better. When we look at things from only one perspective, we fail to exploit the different insights that can only be gained from the vantage point that only a new perspective can provide.
All my best,