Re: HELP ME ! on playing TRIPLETS !!!

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Posted by Bob 'Skippy' Blechinger on November 01, 2000 at 11:19:04:

In Reply to: HELP ME ! on playing TRIPLETS !!! posted by STAVROS on October 31, 2000 at 17:03:24:

: Hi there. I am a new bass player. I have a big question, please someone email me!

: I try to play Iron Maiden songs using TABS. There are many-many triplets there and played very fast.

: Is there a way to practice to count the number of triplets i have played on a note at the moment before changing to play triplets to other note?

: So if i know the number of them i don't depend to listen to the rythym, but i change and play the triplets to other note by my own...


"Iron Maiden? EXCELLENT!!!" (sorry, just a Bill & Ted flashback there)

A little bit about triplets here, just in case you've never taken music theory; a triplet is really nothing more than 3 notes being squeezed into the space of 2. An 8th-note triplet will take up one beat, just like a quarter note or 2 regular 8th notes; the only difference is that the beat is subdivided into 3 parts instead of 2. You can think of it as being like a 12/8 time signature superimposed over a regular 4/4.

A good deal of the "proto-rock" rhythm & blues songs that served as the impetus for early rockers (and later for British Invasion bands) were like that, most notably Elmore James' "Dust My Broom". James' slide guitar part is all 8th-note triplets, and the bass line on the piano uses a syncopated quarter/8th-note triplet combination that gives the "blues groove". A lot of Fats Domino's stuff was like that, too.

One thing that I'm going to recommend to you is going to be a little bit of a tangent, but it'll help you get a good feel for playing triplets in general, so it's worth a little effort. Listen to the Red Hot Chili Peppers' (Flea rocks!) version of Stevie Wonder's "Higher Ground" (the original will work just as well, too); the bass line there is *all* triplets, and the way it's constructed is perfect for learning and understanding triplets.

When I play triplets on a bass line, I'll finger it either 1-2-3 or 3-2-1 with my right hand, depending on what I'm playing; on the "Higher Ground" line, I'll play it 1-2-3, but if I'm doing triplets on one string, 3-2-1 actually works better for me (YMMV, though).

The advantage to using a 1-2-3 or 3-2-1 is that it *automatically* gives you a count of how many individual notes you've played.

I'm not sure if this is *exactly* what you were looking for, but hopefully, it'll help. :-)


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