Once we have learned the most fundamental drum phasing techniques, there are a number of ways we can explore more advanced and complex solutions.
One of the most interesting approaches is that based on ternary phrasing, which involves using all kinds of triplet subdivisions.
Thanks to its versatile and musical nature, due to the mathematical implications of playing groups of 3 notes, this kind of phrasing has practically endless applications, and can become a cornerstone component of our ability to play fills and solos.
In this regard we are about to discover a very effective system to phrase with ease using triplets, sextuplets (3+3=6) and ninetuplets (3+3+3=9).
A huge feature is that, although it sounds really advanced, when we start working on it we realize it’s actually pretty simple. That’s part of its beauty, due to a smart technique that revolves around using basic 3 note cells.
Let’s start by taking two different 3 note stickings: Rll and rrL. We can name the first one ‘1’ and the second ‘2’.
It’s important that we learn these two basic movements in a version in which the single note is played as an accent, and on an eighth note triplet grid.
Let’s practice each 3 note sticking until we can play it effortlessly even at fast tempos. That can take a few days or weeks, depending on our level.
Once we are comfortable we can move on to the next steps which involve mixing the stickings/cells: for instance, if we play the two cells one after the other, we get a kind of Paradiddle Diddle (Rll – rrL), which is pretty cool already.
Since we are using one time the first cell and one time the second, in this approach we name such sequence ‘1+2’ (example 1 of the exercises included).
And now comes the best part: if we combine these two cells in different successions (2+1, 1+2+2, 1+1+2, and so on) we can achieve endless phrasing options, with incredibly exciting and versatile solutions.
All of this using a very small amount of information, with the result of being able to easily learn to improvise with these ideas, and also apply them musically, in no time.
By combining 2 cells per quarter note we get sextuplets phrasing, while including 3 cells per quarter note entails that we are phrasing in ninetuplets, which sound amazing when playing fills, especially in ternary and shuffle feel tracks. This technique can even be a shortcut to begin learning ninetuplets if we have never done so.
Let’s take the examples on the next few pages as a starting point and then let’s have fun creating our own variations, to the point that we are able to improvise entire solos based on this method.
Here is the PDF with transcriptions of all phrases:
And here is the link to the YouTube video in which I play the examples shown in the booklet. You can also click on each case in the PDF to access the related video demonstration.
As we can see, this is a simple yet effective technique that can help us become proficient in this area of phrasing rather quickly.
Of course it’s just the tip of the iceberg of what advanced phrasing can involve: hand/foot combinations, complex stickings, rudimental applications, various subdivisions and so on (check out the related resources below and the ‘Chops’ section in the free resources).
However we can use it as a starting point to get inspired and decide to learn more techniques to add licks and phrasing skills to our drumming toolbox.
‘Phrasing & Fills’ – Altitude Drumming – Volume 5
‘Drum Chops Mastery – Gospel Chops & Beyond’
30 Ways to Practice a Vinnie Colaiuta Lick
Musical & Creative Inverted Paradiddle Applications