Modern Triplet Rhythms – Essential jazz rhythms and exercises

If you want to add some variation to the flow of your 8th notes solos then you can add these simple Triplet Rhyhms trick to your vocabulary!

Most Jazz Guitar solos are primarily consisting of 8th note lines, but a solo only consisting of 8th note lines can lack dynamics and be a bit boring. Therefore it can be good to check out some ways to change up the flow of the solo a bit. This lesson will go over how you can add some more exciting triplet rhythms to your solo, and you can in fact convert your already exisiting lines to make use of this rhythm very easily.

Let’s first have a look at the rhythm as shown in example 1 below.

The key feature is that it is a rhythm that is 2 beats long and it has 4 notes in the two beats. This means that we can actually take an 8th note line and transfer it to this type of rhythm.

The way I hear this rhythm is probably more what is shown in the second bar of example 1, but for the purpose that we are using it makes sense to also realize that it is (almost) the same as what is shown in bar 1 if you think of the 8th notes as swing 8th notes.

Learning to play and hear the rhythm

To practice playing this rhythm there are two exercises that you can do that will help you approach this.

I have both written out here. In each example the “practice part” is in bar 1 and then the real rhythm is in bar 2.

The first exercise is approaching it from the quarter note triplets.

The second exercise is approaching the rhythm from an 8th note and 8th note triplet angle.

Making licks using the triplet rhythms

In this section I want to use the rhythm for different parts of a II V I. 

All the examples in this lesson are on a II V I in F major.

On the II chord in the cadence

The first example is using a cascading arpeggio idea on the Gm7. The arpeggios are first inversion 7th arpeggios. The first arpeggio is a Bbmaj7 and the second one are a Gm7 arpeggio.

The rest of the line is a C7 altered idea using a scale run and an Ebm pentatonic fragment.

As you can see I am using sweep or economy picking to play the arpeggios on the Gm7. If you want to practice this you can use the exercise shown here below:

Chaining Altered arpeggios on the V

The arpeggio chain that I am using here is a device I use often and really like. The idea is to use the last two notes of an ascending arpeggio to encircle the first note in the next one.

That is used here to connect a DbmMaj7 and a Bbm7(b5) arpeggio.

This type of arpeggio line I don’t have a strategy for picking, so what I use is alternate picking which is a bit tough but still do-able.

If you want to work on this you can check out the exercise shown here below which has three sets of arpeggios in F major.

A Pentatonic application of the triplet rhythms

Applying this rhythm to a pentatonic idea is of course a great way to add some exciting quartal harmony sounding ideas.

This is what I am doing on the tonic chord in the example below.

The pentatonic idea is placed on the F major chord with the Am pentatonic scale.

The idea is a fairly straight forward “diatonic chords” idea.

An exercise to get more used to playing lines like this is shown here below. I am again relying on alternate picking to execute the line.

Converting lines to include the Triplet Rhythms

To demonstrate how to convert a line from a straight 8th note line into a line with triplets we can take the line shown here below as an example:

We can in fact take every “half” of a bar and play the four notes with the rhythm. If you do so you get this line:

Taking this rhythm and the triplets further!

This way of changing the rhythm of your existing lines can be a great way to start to open up your rhythmical vocabulary. Once you get comfortable with this rhythm you should try some variations of it and also make sure to spend some time really improvising using triplets as the main subdivision.

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Essential rhythms for jazz guitar

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