Issue 74: A Djembe Rhythm in triple time – The Volcano

I have been experimenting with teaching this djembe piece. I called it “Triple Whizz” because I needed a catchy title in a hurry, but one class is using it to link in with their Volcano topic – and I think I might prefer this title.

It goes with a galloping, three-in-a-bar pulse (think “Hickory Dickory Dock”)

I have written it down with rests marked by commas, first beat of the bar in bold. Tones are lower case, BASS NOTES in UPPER CASE

Part 1 (over four bars)  big , and fierce , and goes with a BANG

Part 2 (over 2 bars) ROCKS fos-sils and ROCKS fos-sils and

Part 3 (over 2 bars) GO where I tell you TO

The words can easily be changed to fit any other topic.

I found that the second part appeared to be surprisingly fast when we started layering up the rhythms, but once you had “woken your hands up” they worked well together. I particularly like the third pattern – it adds a nice lilt.

Triple time is often a little difficult to get going properly; what should be a kind of circular 1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 3 pattern can easily become 1 2 3 , 1 2 3 , 1 2 3, which is, of course, the same as 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4. Triple time has a tendency to slide into the more common  1 2 3 4 time. It was explained to me that this is because we have two legs, and therefore find 1 2 1 2 or 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 much more natural. I have no idea how true this is, but I am amused by the idea of one day discovering a race of three-legged people who naturally waltz about their daily business.

In the meantime, I usually prepare for triple rhythm activities using the following body percussion patterns, marching on the spot; firstly “left right clap clap” for the usual 1 2 3 4 count pattern, and then “left right clap left right clap” for triple time.

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