Photo by Dave Hodgkinson

Sunday, 24 March 2013

The 8 Triplet Ways in 5/4

Today we move onto an exercise that I consider THE quintessential method for any aspiring jazz drummer: Alan Dawson's 8 triplet ways. After spending many fruitful months on this method I was keen to adapt it into 5/4 with the aim of further expanding my odd time playing. I should firstly say that it's essential to work through Dawson's original method fully (along with page 38 of Ted Reed's Syncopation) before moving on, so I urge you to buy his book and get started. Once you're comfortable with the original, we can use a simple set of rules to convert each bar of page 38 into 5/4:

If there's a long note on beat 4, add a short note on the & of beat 5
If there's a short note on the & of 4, add a long note on beat 5
If there's a rest on beat 4, add two short notes on beat 5 and the & of beat 5

Here are the original bars 1 - 4: 

And here's how they look in 5/4:

Now try applying the 8 triplet ways to this 4 bar phrase. There's some tricky 4 limb coordination required once you start adding a 5/4 swing pattern (from triplet way 4 onwards) but this is all extremely worthwhile vocabulary that will come in handy next time someone calls a tune in 5 on the gig.

Once you're comfortable with bars 1-4, do the same for the rest of Pages 38-39. 

Good luck! 


  1. Nice work with this series, Sam-- we need to get your labels happening so I can link to all of your 5/4 stuff at once! Keep up the good work-- t

  2. Thanks Todd. I'm not sure what you mean by labels (being new to blogspot and all). I add individual labels in the Post Settings when i compose a post but that just seems to add them to the sidebar as a list.