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Thread: Nested Tuplets: Beginning to Approach Them Methodically

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    Senior Member Whitey's Avatar
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    Default Nested Tuplets: Beginning to Approach Them Methodically

    While I was at university, I noticed that sometimes when people had to face nested tuplets for the first time, not everybody found working out how to play them with precision to be a very intuitive task. I've tried to offer a very simple introduction to how you might approach them methodically. The way I deal with them here specifically applies to music fixed on a "grid", so might not be appropriate for all situations.

    Does anybody else have a particular methodology they'd like to offer? I'd be especially interested to hear about how you deal with nested tuplets in situations different to the ones dealt with in the video.


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    Senior Member tdc's Avatar
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    Interesting video with some good pointers. When its just triplets I try to feel them out by pronouncing the word tri-pl-et, one syllable per note while attempting to maintain a feel for where the beat should be. The nesting process complicates things and even with your method intuitive sight reading of the section would not really occur unless someone could take all the steps you've listed and do them in seconds. Most people when coming across such instances I think would first attempt to 'cheat' and look for a professional recording of the work in question to use as a reference.

    Still, to me your method of breaking things down to a simple stage first seems a good approach.
    Last edited by tdc; Apr-09-2018 at 22:18.

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    Senior Member Whitey's Avatar
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    Yeah, I find mnemonics and/or simply "feel" get the job done at certain tempos with the less complex tuplets. I find that at slower tempos especially, it's harder to get away with relying on feel. As far as sight-reading these sorts of rhythms goes, unless someone had encountered similar patterns before and had internalised them well enough, it they were reading cold, I suppose inaccuracies are (unless they're Vinnie Colaiuta) to be expected - which is maybe one reason these rhythms don't seem to occur often (or ever) in pop music (too much rehearsal time, too inefficient).

    "Cheating"'s a good idea anyway, in my view - nothing wrong with knowing what you're meant to sound like! I chose that particular bar of The Black Page because I've never played it before, so I thought my inevitable imperfections would be useful in highlighting potential issues to look out for. As such, I referenced the original recording to double-check my septuplet which still ended up being the problem spot for me (though I'm happy to report that since filming the video, I've got it much tighter!).

    Thanks for the feedback!

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    what I picked up from George van Epps's method is to take a common denominator between the two times. 3 over 2 or 2 over 3 is easy. In fact, a hemiola rhythm is something you should just know because it comes up a lot, but this method will work for 4 over 3, 5 over 4...pretty much anything

    anyway, you have your common denominator and that is your pulse that you count. So then you have your 2 against 3 or 3 against 2 something like this:

    1 2 3 4 5 6 and 1 2 3 4 5 6


    this is a really handy method for more complex rhythms like 4 over 3 and 5 over 4

    (edit: I didn't watch the video (I'm at the office) so if this is what they said, then nevermind )
    Last edited by Nate Miller; Apr-10-2018 at 14:13.

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    Senior Member Whitey's Avatar
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    Yeah, collapsing rhythms onto one "plane" like that's handy, it's like you're just reducing two layers to one. I find this gets hairy when tuplets become nested though, since it's as if there are 2 layers of pulse (the main mater and the primary tuplet) which depending on the rhythm might make it harder to find common ground

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