Welcome everyone to week #36 where we’re going to talk a little bit about triplets! I truly hope you’ve been enjoying these weekly tips and encourage you to check out the past 35 weeks (they’re archived now at the bottom of the site) if you haven’t already. Also, as you can probably tell-I’m working on my 2nd book called Breaking the Monotony and hope to have it released later this year. Also, within the next couple of weeks Targeting: Improvisation With Purpose will be available in Spanish and French! So, for those of you that have been visiting this site/blog and have expressed interest in those versions…it is coming very soon!

Recently while playing over the changes to a new song I’m working on, I realized that I had been neglecting a particular rhythmic figure in my practice routine. Those that have been following along know that I’m big on two things: Targeting principles and not over-using tools. Part of not over-using tools we employ in improvisation includes making sure you’re not neglecting others (unless done on purpose). For me, I realized that recently I haven’t been using triplets very much in my improvisations. This wasn’t done on purpose, but out of unintentional neglect. For those that might be going through a similar “triplet slump,” I wanted to give a few practical ways we can interject triplets into our ideas.

Triplets can be placed anywhere in a bar. They can arpeggiate a chord (chord of the moment or super-imposed), they can be tied to other triplets or other note value lengths. One thing that may need to be adjusted are your note choices. When using targeting principles, you want to land on most of your targets at harmonic strong points (in 4/4 that is on beat 1 and 3). Doing this with triplets means you’re using three note groupings and you’ll want to adjust your line to make it fit. Rhythmically, it creates a nice break from the run-of-the-mill eighth note line.

The following examples show a couple of different basic ways we can use triplets and targeting principles together. All of this week’s examples use the eighth note triplet (but obviously you can use different valued triplets as well). The first couple of examples put the triplet as the intro to the line or towards the begining of the line. The last example is one that shows how you can creatively string eighth note triplets together while still keeping targeting principles intact.




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