POLYRHYTHM- Learn and MASTER 3:4 and 4:3

If you're curious what polyrhythm sounds like you can skip to the example at 13:02. I have been so scared to make this video- It's a really hard topic to learn and teach, and there's not much interest in the topic. HOWEVER I feel that polyrhythm is a fantasticly fun and productive concept to practice. In this video, we learn about what polyrhythm is, then learn about resultant and composite rhythms and how they can help us learn to perform a 3:4 polyrhythm. We go way beyond just "passing the golden butter" in this video to explore the musical aspects of these rhythms and how we can apply them in real world scenarios, with a significant stress on how a polyrhythm can be interpreted two different ways with two different dominant beats. If you like progressive rock, djent, math metal, indian music, or anything else that is hard to dance to, you'll probably enjoy working with this concept. I wish you the best of luck with this one- it's tough stuff!


Please note, this transcription was computer generated and has not been checked for errors. However, I do hope you find it helpful. Be sure to check out The Ultimate Modal Poster!

When I first discovered polyrhythm, it was like somebody showed me a brand new spatial Dimension.

I didn't even know that stuff was possible much less playable and it took me many years to fully digest this topic and what I'm going to try and do here in the short video as compress all that information into a nice little tutorial so you can learn to practice for form and apply the three to four polyrhythm and it's inverse the for 2:3 polyrhythm first. Let's take a look at what a polyrhythm actually is this line will represent a section of time. Let's say it's two seconds long.

Half seconds, we will play the note G and then repeat back from the beginning.

This divides our section of time evenly by four beats.

If we want to divide this length of time into three even beats. We'd have to play a note every two thirds of a second.

Let's use the note B.

Now if we play these both together at the same time, we have a three to four polyrhythm.

For even beats taking up the same space as three even beats an important characteristic of polyrhythm is that the Beats don't line up until the polyrhythm repeats this happens because we are using two numbers that don't divide into one another 3 & 4 2 & 4 would not constitute a polyrhythm since the number share a common factor the even divisions within one measure cause our beats to line up eliminating that polyrhythmic sound.

So polyrhythm can be any two numbers that don't divide into one another like seven to four.

Or 11 and 3.

Now as you can hear some of those polyrhythms aren't very Musical and in fact, some of them are just downright offensive to the ear, but I do think the three to four polyrhythm is common enough and interesting enough and easy enough to make it worth our time to practice and master. So, how do we actually perform this Rhythm? Our first step is to memorize the resultant Rhythm or the composite Rhythm that forms within a three to four polyrhythm right now. My polyrhythm is being performed on two different voices or notes.

But if I combine both rhythms together into one So that every note is G the polyrhythm disappears.

To memorize this Rhythm students are often taught one of several verbal phrases.

I'll refrain from using the more vulgar options and instead opted for this family-friendly alternative past the stinking butter pass the stinking gutter pass the stinking got to memorizing this phrase and pulsing is the first step to being able to play the polyrhythm. The second step is to assign one of our hands to play each word on the word pass. We had both hands together on the stinking we go left right left and then For butter we go right left.

So putting it together. We have pass the stinking butter pass the stinking butter faster.

Ask the stinking butter. If you can do this, you're actually playing a three to four polyrhythm right now, but just because you're playing it doesn't necessarily mean you'll understand it. Right what I want you to try doing once you've got the hang of this is to take a look at your right hand and try to count what your right hand is doing your right hand is playing an even three beats like this.

One, two, three, one, two, three, one two, three, but then I want you to try and look at your left hand and try to count what your left hand is doing and you might have some One-two-three-four one-two-three-four one-two-three-four.

So what's going on there? Why are you able to play this Rhythm so easily and be able to count one half of it fairly easily, but the second half of it your brain just turns to Mush. The reason is that phrase that we selected pass the stinking butter has three naturally strong syllables that divide the phrase into three even beats pass stink, but the parts of the phrase were the four beat aligns to are the weak syllables pass. Pass the king herb and those syllables really are not easy to stress.

Now. Let's face it. This isn't a very musically correct way to be counting rhythms.

And unfortunately, this is where many musicians just leave this topic completely. But if we really want to understand what we're doing here, we need to be able to convert this all into musical language anytime. I want to make a polyrhythm. I just multiply the two numbers together to find out what they both divided into three times four is twelve. So let's just start with 12 notes are polyrhythm occurs. When one voicing plays every three notes and Voicing place every four notes. So let's find a convenient musical way to notate this these twelve notes could be 12 quarter notes three measures of 4/4 or they could be eighth notes in a measure of 12/8.

But let's try to write them as sixteenth notes, then it could be treated as a measure of three four when you count 3 4 like this we get 1 E and A 2 E and A 3 E and A 1 E and A 2 E and A 3 e end up counting every fourth note gives us an even three beats one, two, three, one two. Two three while counting every three beats puts us on the notes one A and E.

These counts are the musical counterparts to pass the stinking butter.

If we count the resultant Rhythm produced by these two, we are left with a count of 1 a 2 & 3 1 a 2 & 3 e which has the same stressed syllables as past the stinking butter now that we understand a little bit more about this Rhythm we can start practicing it more accurately will start that just by Being three steady quarter notes and counting to three one, two, three.

One, two, three now start counting your sixteenth notes 1 E and A 2 E and A 3 E and A one E and A two e and a three e and begin accenting every third count 1 E and A 2 E and A 3 E and A 1 E and A 2 E and A 3 E Anna lastly just get rid of your unaccented notes and you're going to be left with 1 and e 1.

And E lastly get rid of that weird counting and just replace it with a steady one, two, three four. So you've got one two, three, four, one, two, three, four one now that we've practiced it this way. It should be fairly easy to apply in an actual musical setting for example, imagine your drummer is playing in 3/4 with a steady three quarter notes and you want an overlay a study for underneath that same free. All we have to do is Count are quarter notes. One, two, three, one, two, three, then we count the 16.

One E and A two e and a three E and A one E and A two e and a three e and Now accent every third count one E and A two E and A 4 e and a one E and A two E and A 4 E and A replace those with one two, three, four. One, two, three, four walk two three four.

Note that this Rhythm can easily be notated as a repeating pattern of dotted eighth notes dotted eighth notes are worth three sixteenth notes and a quarter note is worth four sixteenth notes. So anytime you're playing dotted eighth notes against quarter notes in succession. You're creating a three to four polyrhythm.

So at this point you've successfully learned how to play one half of a three to four polyrhythm, but I think it's extremely important to be able to do this entire process all over again treating the for beat Hazard dominant pulse in my opinion. This is the most commonly overlooked aspect of polyrhythm. The people only learn it with one dominant beat in mind, but if you can shift your perspective and feel the other beat as dominant, it really completely transforms the Rhythm. So let's go back to our resultant Rhythm before we used the phrase past the stinking butter, which had three strong syllables in it. We need to find a phrase that has four strong evenly divided syllables in it. Now. I don't know of a traditional Rhythm that is taught to teach this. So I'm using my own pass butter to the left pass butter to the left pass butter to the left. So Just like before let's assign our hands to each syllable on the word past. We had both hands on butter to we do left right left.

And then the left is right left put it all together ass-fucker to the left.

Both left right left right left ass butter to the left ass butter to the left.

Now. We're doing the exact same pattern we did before the exact same Rhythm, but the Feels like the dominant pulse 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 pass butter to the left pass butter to the left.

Now. What's really mind-blowing to me is this is the exact same thing as past the stinking butter past the sinking butter pass butter to the left pass butter to the left you here as I just switch the phrase that dominant beat comes out to you and you start to hear what the the dominant three sounds like versus the dominant. For and the fact that both of those are all in that same Rhythm and that I can only keep track of one or two same time. It's really mind-blowing to me. It's very similar to the yeti and Laurel phenomenon Laurel. You really can't hear both at the same time your brain just kind of switches from one to the other or like this illusion of the spinning woman. You can really only interpret it as going clockwise or counterclockwise, but your brain just can't maintain both interpretations at the exact same moment. Now, let's take the silly phrase and convert this into musical language so we can start applying this in actual scenarios.

Before we treated these twelve notes like sixteenth notes, but instead this time. We're going to treat them like eighth note triplets in for for this could be counted 1 triplet 2 triplet 3 triplet 4 triplet are steady for beat occurs on every three counts on the one two, three four and every fourth count will provide us are even three beat these counts match up with our new phrase pass butter to the left one to trip three let for now we can practice this just like before will clap a steady for this time though instead one.

Two three four, then we start counting eighth note triplets, 1 triplet 2 triplet 3 triplet 4 triplet, then you accent every fourth of those counts one triplet triplet triplet four triplet leave away. The unaccented notes one trip.

Let one trip let lastly get rid of that weird counting and just call it 1 2 3 instead one, two, three one.

To 3-1 now that you've practiced this both ways interpreting it as a strong three beat versus interpreting it as a strong for beat. You should be able to play the rhythm and count each hand.

So here's my phrase past stinking butter Mass the stinking butter or pass butter to the left pass butter to the left. I'm going to try and count each hand. My left hand right now is doing the 3 B, which is 1 2 3 1 2 3 1 two three and my right hand is doing the 4p 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 and that's the goal here is to be able to keep track of them both at the same time.

Now, this is crazy stuff pretty nutty and it might seem pretty impractical and in future videos. I really want to talk about you know, what can we do to make this stuff listenable? And why do I care so much about this for right now? I'm going to give you a little insight on to how magical and how transformative this stuff really is in making basic.

Sound way more interesting. Let's take an extremely simple chord progression. I'm going to use D major dese US for DS2 and back to D.

That's something you've heard a million times before and what I want to do is let's play each chord three times. So three quarter notes on D 3 quarter notes on D sauce for three quarter notes on these us to record a no Tandy now right now, my thumb is playing every bass note, right, but what if I wanted to instead of every three quarter notes what if I wanted to cram in four notes? It's on top of every three quarter notes right to do that. What I want to do is let's just start by counting my steady 3, which is 1 2 3 1 2 3 then I can count my sixteenth notes.

What a Yetta two e and a three E and A one E and A two e and a three e and let's accent every third count 1 E and A 2 E and A 3 e n 1 2 3 4 now that's with my thumb will do check it out.

One two, three, four.

One two.

Now, let's continue with my progression.

And you can hear out more interesting that very boring progression is just by adding some rhythmic interest to the Baseline are what if my base was instead of just playing D. I had my base alternate between d and a all right, so we've got Far more interesting that when we started off with we could go even crazier. We could have the base even though the bass is playing a steady four beats. What if the base was playing Polly metrically, so it's going 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 that would get kind of nutty. Let me give it a try.

So, I mean, it's your call. If you decide that that's a musical or chaotic.

It's interesting in my opinion are certainly transformed our basic little chord progression of D sus 4 into D. It's far more interesting than it was before whether you like it or not. Well, that's up to personal taste.

So in the future, I want to do a lot more with polyrhythm, and it was such a difficult concept for me to absorb. I'm hoping that this video gets the basic point across as quickly as I can teach it. So hopefully you enjoyed this video. Hope you learned something from it. If you did enjoy this video you can thank me. My patreon supporters for making these videos possible. I will see you again next time.


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