View Full Version : More Polyrhythm Questions

02-25-2004, 12:43 AM
Hey, I heard about polyrhythms from the post earlier which, eventually, led me to Vai's website on the matter. Needless to say, once I got there I was a little more than overwhelmed near the end of the article (http://vai.com/LittleBlackDots/tempomental.html). I was just wondering what would be a good start to mastering this stuff; it reallys seems to add a lot of flavor to music and I feel like I definitely should get a good grip on it. Any suggestions or exercises would be much appreciated - so far all I've heard about is The Frank Zappa Guitar Song Book . Anyway, thanks in advance; Later.

03-17-2004, 06:14 PM
I would say get fruity loops, and just start trying to play different rhythms over a steady 4/4 beat. here are some things I do:

*Play 3/4 over 4/4. start with a simple lick that is steady 8ths, then try adding pauses and different rhythms.

*think of how many different ways you can divide up 4 bars of 4/4. that's 32 8th notes, so any way you can group them can be a poly rhythm. I wrote a song that was 2 bars of 11/8 fallowed by a bar of 5/4 (11+11+10=32) try different things like that.

*try playing 3 quarter notes in the span of 2, or 2 in the span of three (this is kind of like slower triplets)

*when playing scale runs, instead of grouping notes in 3,4, or 6, try grouping them in odd groupings like 5 or 7 to displace your accents and get a cool polyrhythm sound.

03-23-2004, 05:51 AM
hmm...there's actually more than you think. I hate to keep bringing up Shawn Lane, Jonas Hellborg and Jeff Sipe but they have some very awesome polyrhythms. Another is Fredrik Thordendal's "Sol Niger Within". Very jazzy stuff on there with some very complex rhythmical backing riffs on it. Just to let you know Sol Niger Within is 1 extremely long song. It's something like 50 mnutes or so, but it's well worth it if you like alot of instrumental stuff. There's some vovals to it but it's mainly just the drummer speaking various proverbs and phrases.

03-28-2004, 08:33 PM
Hey, thanks for the replies man. I'll try out those exercies and download some of the music you suggested too. Thanks again; later

03-29-2004, 03:51 AM
I dunno if it was posted in the earlier topic, but check this page out:
It's definatly a percussionists site but has some good examples and tips. Also I HIGHLY suggest the suggested piece at the bottom of the page :).

03-30-2004, 04:37 AM
Another thing I forgot to mention is I have a link that I could give you. It's not as in-depth as Steve Vai's explanation but it could help you in understanding what he's saying. Go here: http://www.xs4all.nl/~marcz/Polyrhythm.html. Now it's a website for drummers but it could help you alot if you have a drum machine or metronome lying around somewhere.

04-13-2004, 02:20 PM
Be sure not to confuse poly-RHYTHM with poly-METER.

A polyrhythm is playing two rhythms simultaneously. That is, like a duple meter and a triple meter (hemiola) - a simple 2 against 3 pattern. Or a 3 against 4 pattern. You have to divide the bar into 2 or 3 or 4 or whatever different subdivisions. This is pretty common and most players manage to do this ithout really much thought (at least the simple polyrhythms). It's the odd divisions that really warp your head.

By the way, a simple drum beat is often polyrhythmic by definition.

A polymeter is playing 2 different meters simultaneously. That is, like playing a 4/4 grove with a 3/4 groove. You can do this blatantly (like get two congas & have a friend play in 3/4 while you play in 4/4) or a bit more subtly.The opening to "Dust in the Wind" is in 4, but the high 3-note loop can be viewed as polymetric, for example.

By the way, some standard grooves are often polymetric by definition, if not in effect (2 against 4).

Both polyrhythms and polymeters are relatively simple with simple rhythms & meters (2-3, 3-4), but get extremely challenging when using more complicated ideas.