LESSON 4

Introducing Quintuplets and Septuplets

Most western music is either divided into subdisions which are multiples of 2 or 3. But odd note groupings such as Quintuplets and Septuplets have become a little more common in recent times both as a compositional device, by such artists as Frank Zappa, and in contemporary improvisational vocabulary; eg Vinnie Colaiuta, Steve Smith, Chad Wackerman, Terry Bozzio and Gary Chaffee.

This lesson introduces Quintuplets and Septuplets by teaching their relationship to the closest, more familiar duplet and triplet subdivisions. (This of course assumes that you are familiar with the common subdivisions of Sixteenths Notes and Sixteenth Note Sextuplets).

Quintuplets

Just as an Eighth Note Triplet is three equally spaced beats within one quarter note, a Sixteenth Note Quintuplet is five equally spaced beats within one quarter note.

We know that a quarter note divided by 5 will be slightly "faster" than a quarter note divided by 4, (Sixteenth Notes) and slightly "slower" than a quarter note divided by 6, (Sixteenth Note Sextuplets). And like a Triplet played hand to hand, the leading hand will alternate from each quarter note to the next. That is to say if we play a series of Sixteenths, and Sixteenth Sextuplets we just need to make a little adjustment in the "speed" and "aim" for the opposite hand in order to achieve Quintuplets.

Play the following exercise slowly with a click. To begin with, you can play a small accent on the down beat of each group so that you can feel the quarter note pulse underneath. Ultimately though, you should practice these ideas with no accents.

Septuplets

A Sixteenth Note Septuplet is seven equally spaced beats within one quarter note. We know that seven equal beats will be slightly "faster" than Sixteenth Note Triplets and slightly "slower" than Thirtysecond Notes.

And like Triplets and Quintuplets played hand to hand, the leading hand will alternate from each quarter note to the next.

So to achieve Septuplets we begin with the closest, more familiar duplet and triplet subdivisions, in this case Sixteenth Note Sextuplets which are slightly "slower", and Thirtysecond Notes, which are "faster". Remember to adjust the "speed" and "aim" for the opposite hand

Again, you can play a small accent on the down beat of each group so that you can feel the quarter note pulse to begin with but ultimately, you should practice these ideas with no accents.

The idea is to be comfortable playing Quintuplets or Septuplets at any tempo. Set the metronome randomly and give yourself two beats to determine a tempo and "launch" directly into either rhythm. Try this at many different tempos to check your familiarity with these "new" subdivisions.

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