Tag Archives: quarter note triplets

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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You can also download the PDF of my examples here:

Essential rhythms for jazz guitar

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Triplet Rhythms – Part 2

Using triplets is a good way to start improvising with poly rhythms in jazz. In this lesson I will talk about how you can use quarter note triplets and some of the different quarter note triplet rhythms you can make. I will also discuss how to use them to create the illusion of another groove on top of what you are playing.

In my first lesson on triplets: Triplet Rhythms – Part 1 I was mostly looking at 8th note triplets, since that is a good basic subdivision that is very related to swing. In this lesson I will take it to the next step above the swing groove: the quarter note triplets. If you are not familiar with 8th note triplets you should probably check out the first lesson mentioned above before getting into this one.

Similar to the first lesson I have decided to demonstrate 3 rhythms with an exercise and then give an example on a II V I in G where that rhythm is used rhythm.

Rhythm no 1: Quarter note triplets


In example 1 I have written a short simple exercise to hel practicing quarter note triplets. ONe way to connect this to 8th note triplets (which is easier to feel) is to play each note twice. You need to practice this so that you can play this in time and it feels natural and easy, especially watch out that the beats 2 and 4 are exactly between the 2nd and 3rd notes of the triplet.

Triplet rhythms - Part 2 - ex 1

In the line in example 2 I am using the quarter note triplets on both the Am7 and  on the altered D7 chord. The part on the Am7 is first a scale run on starting from the root. The second part of the line is a quarter note triplet on a part of the Am7 arpeggio. On the D7 the entire line consists of quarter note triplets, but the melodic pattern is grouped in 2 notes so that the connection to the original groove is even furter away. In general if you group triplets in even numbers you will have a more poly rhythmic effect, not unlike using 8th or 16th notes in groups of uneven notes.

Triplet rhythms - Part 2 - ex 2

Rhythm 2: Shifting and staying in the groove

This rhythm is a sort of transition exercise because it will help with the last rhythm which is a quarter note triplet shifted on 8th note triplet (that sounds more complicated when you write it..) The rhythm is shown in example 3:

Triplet rhythms - Part 2 - ex 3

The fact that the rhythm contains all 4 beats of the bar makes it easier to feel and also to keep it in time.

The line using this rhythm starts out with two rhythms from the first lesson on the Am7 chord. It is for the rest a variation on the line used on the Am7 in example 2. On the D7alt I am using the rhythm from example 3 and using it to chain two arpeggios: A C dim triad and an EbmMaj7. It resolves the Eb to the 5th(D) of Gmaj7.

Triplet rhythms - Part 2 - ex 4

Rhythm 3 – Shifted or Upside down triplets

The 3rd rhythm is the same as the 1st one except that it is move an 8th note triplet (ahead or behind). This means that now the rhythm is not together with the meter on the 1 and 3, but instead on the 2 and the 4. In the exercise I keep it simple and start the melody after the 1 just to help you get an idea about how the rhythm feels.

The term upside down triplet is something I’ve learned from Dutch Bassplayer Heyn Van Der Geyn. There might be other names for the rhythm, but I didn’t come across them.

Triplet rhythms - Part 2 - ex 5

In the line the example is using the same rhythm on the D7, but we have  an example of the rhythm in the version that is shifted so that it begins before beat 1. On the Am7 I am playing a fairly basic 8th note triplet rhythm (even if it looks a bit complicated written out). The D7 line consists of a three note pattern: a C dim triad played descending. The line begins before the 1 and resolves to the 5th of G before the next 1. The way the whole 3 note phrase on the D7alt is placed creates a lot of tension and also almost gives the impression that the beat is turned around. The resolution is also nicely vague until you afterwards can feel the groove continue under it (speaking as a listener).

Triplet rhythms - Part 2 - ex 6


When you want to work on this you should probably first get very comfortable with playing the exercises and feel the beat at the same time. You are also better of working on this with a metronome. It can also be very useful to make a few exercises on your own.

After that you can move on to making your own lines and trying to use these rhythms while playing songs.

If you want to download a PDF of the examples I went over here for later study you can do so here: Triplet rhythms – Part 2

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics or how I can make the lessons better then please feel free to leave on the video or  send me an e-mail. That is the best way for me to improve my lessons and make thme fit what you want to hear.

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