In trying to explain Metric Modulation, I came up with the exercise below.
This is an area of theory that has proved difficult to study and even when I ask professional drummers about it I never really feel that many of them have a confident understanding of the subject.
I also came across this lack of confidence when discussing Time Signatures with pupils, other drummers, music teachers and other musician's. No one gave me the total confidence that actually new the subject well until I read a fantastic article on the subject of Odd Time Signatures by Chad Wackerman.
With Chad's help I was able to really dig into the subject and develop a system that helped my pupils to feel confident in their understanding of Time Signatures. As I "enjoyed" nearly eight years in an earlier life in accountancy, numbers had always come easy to me but after cracking the "Time Signature Code" I'd love to move onto cracking the code behind Metric Modulation.
So...here's an exercise with no musical notation that will help develop something closer to Polyrhythmically/Metric Modulation/Superimposed Metric Modulation/Tempo Modulation...but which one is it and how can it be developed with confidence? (Answers on a postcard please). Start by learning the following 3 Stickings. I used the four different versions of the Paradiddle to come up with these sticking patterns but number 1 could also be described as inverted double stroke roll:
Then when comfortable play them as 16th Notes on your snare drum to create a bar of 3/4:
1e+a = RLLR
2e+a = LLRL
3e+a = LRLL
This will look like this:
3/4 RLLR LLRL LRLL
Once comfortable add your bass drum on the 1st note of each group. If you prefer to count like me this means that you will be adding your bass drum on the following counts: 1 2 3 (Not any of the e+a notes).
This will now look like this:
3/4 RLLR LLRL LRLL
(If a note is underlined this means play your bass drum at exactly the same time as your snare). Once comfortable with this it now starts to get a bit more tricky. (Please fasten your seat belt at this point). Turn off your snares and whilst leaving your Right hand on the snare at normal volume then reduce the volume of your Left hand and carefully move your Left hand onto your Left knee. You should now have created a Polyrhythm playing 4 notes on the snare against 3 notes on the bass drum. Count the bass drum out loud: "1 2 3" and repeat this until comfortable.
Keep going but stop counting the bass drum. Now count the snare drum out loud "1 2 3 4" whilst still keeping the bass drum going. (This, is were the seat belt might come in handy). Whilst counting the "1 2 3 4" out loud please remember that you are still in 3/4. At this point stop playing your Left hand on your Left knee and see if you can keep going with the count "1 2 3 4".
If you can do this you are now counting "1 2 3 4" in 3/4 time without the help of the Left hand filling in the gaps but with your bass drum still going. This is known as 4:3 (4 against 3) in 3/4 time.
Now whilst keeping the Right hand going on the snare stop your bass drum and you now have your new Metrically Modulated 1/4 Note/Crotchet Pulse. (Remember 4:3 is written above the bar at this point so that everyone can see that you have Metrically Modulated.)
Article first published in: www.drumteachers.info