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Papa Tom
11-11-2010, 10:02 AM
I've been playing uke for about four years now and came to the instrument with a better-than-average feel for strumming, muting, etc., having been a drummer all my life.

Still, all these years later, while I can play a pretty good SUCCESSION of triplets using the extended thumb/straight pointer/L-shaped hand technique, I have major trouble working a SINGLE triplet into a rhythmic figure without making a frigging mess.

I think it might have something to do with the fact that I strum with my middle finger, ring finger, and pinky, rather than my pointer, which is one of the main fingers in the triplet strum. I don't think I'll be changing this habit anytime soon.

So can anybody provide some pointers or exercises for working a triplet or two into a rhythmic pattern when your strumming technique is as I described? I'm sure I'm not the only ukulele player out there who strums the way I do.

I posted this once before on another uke group and got only a bunch of links to ridiculously hard triplet lessons and a guys showing off their abilities. I'm already intimidated enough by all the players out there who are light years more fluid and clean than I am with the instrument, so please only respond if you have a "gentle" suggestion and/or a tip from your PERSONAL experience.

Thanks, all!

Ukuleleblues
11-11-2010, 10:53 AM
It seems like a triplet would be difficult to do one time and have it recognizable as a triplet. Do you have any UT or recordings of someone doing that in a song? I'd be interested in hearing/seeing that.

misterpk
11-11-2010, 11:17 AM
I think it's pretty common in Hawaiian music. At least when I play it. :)

What about Alice Cooper's School's Out? Isn't that 1, triplet, 3, triplet, 1, triplet, triplet, triplet?

Papa Tom
11-11-2010, 02:28 PM
I'm talking about the rapid 16th note triplets that ukulele players drop in as turnarounds between chords, like 1,2,3,4anda 1,2,3,4anda. It's very common in old-time singalongs like "Ain't She Sweet" and "Five Foot Two." I'm about to invest in a banjo uke, which is pretty much only useful for songs in that style, so I really want to get my triplets together!

The triplets in "School's Out" are 8th notes. These are much more rapidfire. If you do a search on YouTube for "ukulele triplet strum," you'll see what I'm talking about.

clayton56
11-11-2010, 10:10 PM
and here I thought you were announcing three new babies in the household.



I think it might have something to do with the fact that I strum with my middle finger, ring finger, and pinky, rather than my pointer, which is one of the main fingers in the triplet strum. I don't think I'll be changing this habit anytime soon.

I use that configuration myself, from my banjo strumming days, and it's good for guitar, too. Gives a nice chunk. I fan my fingers out to strike the strings.

I'm not sure how fast you're going, but I just tried some triplets to see what would happen. I used my thumb on the downstroke, thumb again on the upstroke, and the fanned with the fingers for the last note.

In lieu of an actual strum, you might try a banjo player's trick, pluck a low note with the thumb, then pluck upward on the two top strings twice. You get a boom-chick pattern and it's very smooth.

Let us know how you make out.

Ron
11-11-2010, 10:16 PM
I think it's pretty common in Hawaiian music. At least when I play it. :)

What about Alice Cooper's School's Out? Isn't that 1, triplet, 3, triplet, 1, triplet, triplet, triplet?

Haha. That's hilarious! - it's been so long since I heard School's Out I had to go and have a listen on YT. I reckon it's more 1+2+3+triplet........

Papa Tom
11-12-2010, 02:08 AM
I'm still not sure I'm being clear about the type of triplets I mean. It's a really common little embellishment that uke and banjo uke players are always using as turnarounds between chords. Picture six eighth-notes followed by a set of sixteenth-note triplets, so it's chinka chinka chinka tripl-et chinka chinka chinka tripl-et. It's created by spreading your pointer and thumb as far apart as they go, then strumming down with the pointer, down with the thumb, and up with the pointer. I think the fact that people are not understanding what I'm asking is due to my being the only uke player on Earth for whom this trick doesn't come perfectly naturally!

If you've ever seen the video of the three Beatles sitting out in a field (during "Anthology") doing "Ain't She Sweet" with George on ukulele, he's dropping these in effortlessly all over the place. In any YouTube video of someone playing an old standard saloon song, you'll also see tons of these.

joeybug
11-12-2010, 02:17 AM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v5k-OE0-fWs&feature=related

Is this the video you're talking about? I have no info on the triplets as I'm no where near proficient enough to do those, but thought it would help with your explanation

knive
11-12-2010, 03:47 AM
I'm still not sure I'm being clear about the type of triplets I mean. It's a really common little embellishment that uke and banjo uke players are always using as turnarounds between chords. Picture six eighth-notes followed by a set of sixteenth-note triplets, so it's chinka chinka chinka tripl-et chinka chinka chinka tripl-et. It's created by spreading your pointer and thumb as far apart as they go, then strumming down with the pointer, down with the thumb, and up with the pointer. I think the fact that people are not understanding what I'm asking is due to my being the only uke player on Earth for whom this trick doesn't come perfectly naturally!

Playing triplets is something that varies wildly amongst uke players. You mentioned earlier that you don't play with your index finger. I don't play with index either, I play with my ring finger when strumming. And it hasn't prohibited me from doing triplets in any way. I play them in the manner you described, with ring finger instead of index: ring down, thumb down, ring up. Using the ring finger gives the triplet a more "even" quality, when compared to using index, because the tone produced by the ring finger is more mellower. This way of playing is somewhere near what's often considered a "fan stroke" and is by no means inferior to using the index finger. You can also use other fingers with your ring finger more naturally than with your index in a semi-rasguedo type of strum. I also find that I can swicth more naturally from strumming to picking when strumming with ring finger. I do strum with the index finger occasionally for the extra volume and perhaps little easier chunking.

When learning the triplet strum, it all basically comes down to practice. And then some more practice! Most useful and nice rhythm I found when practising these is a 8-beat style consisting of two even-paced triplets and two extra strums up and down. Triplets in this rhythm are slow, but get the movements in to your spine. You can see the rhythm (or something very similar to it) in this youtube clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wTgqW6hqpfA . With time and practice, the triplets come more naturally and quickly and you can start to incorporate into other patterns more naturally and in correct timing.

JCMcGee
11-12-2010, 04:27 AM
Count it:

One Two TI-KA-TI boo

With the "TI KA TI" being the triplet & the "Boo" being the 4th beat....does that make sense?

This is also true:
When learning the triplet strum, it all basically comes down to practice. And then some more practice!
Though the video is just confusing!

mitchchang
11-12-2010, 04:59 AM
Maybe this will help: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B3CHS1YFtLc

Papa Tom
11-12-2010, 05:06 AM
>>>>One Two TI-KA-TI boo<<<<

YES! That's it!

And yes, that's the "Beatle" video I was describing. George uses the Formby (down-down-up) strum throughout and then drops in a whole bunch of triplet bombs (too many, in my opinion) for color. They're kind of corny, but seem like a rite of passage for any uke/banjolele player.

To reiterate, my main problem is not PLAYING the triplets; it's dropping a single triplet into a pattern of eighth notes so it sounds natural. I can play the triplets FAIRLY clean if I just play a whole succession of triplets. But I can't use them in a tasteful, musical manner yet. My request was for technical tips on how to anticipate playing one in a pattern and then physically pulling it off.

scottie
11-12-2010, 05:25 AM
a triplet is 3 eighth notes played in the rhythmic space of one quarter note, three quarter notes played in the space of one half note or three half notes played in the space of one whole note. School's out isn't triplets it's either 2 quarters and 1 half in 4/4 or 2 eighths and 1 quarter in 2/4, I don't have the music so I'm just guessin'. da da daaaa da da daaa [da da da] daaaaaaaaaaaaaa. . . note that the part in brackets is not a triplet, it is three quarter notes but it's played in the space of three quarter notes.

Getting triplets is a feel thing. If you can count 3/4 you can get the triplet. The trick is to get the 3 feel in the 2& space (or whichever beat you're triplet-izing). If you're counting 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &. . . . consider it thusly:

[1 &] [2 &] [123] [4 &] and the 123 in the third beat has to happen without a hiccup. You can practice changing between 4/4 and 3/4 time and back to sort of get the feel of the way you have to approach it. Another thing, the notes of a triplet should be equally spaced, although there will be a natural accent that will fall on the first beat of the triplet. One good way to cement the triplet feel thing is to practice changing the accent to the 2 count and the 3 count (you'll want to do it slowly).

Papa Tom
11-12-2010, 06:10 AM
Thanks for all the well-though-out responses, everyone. However, again, I'm not asking how to play or notate these triplets. What I need help with is actually dropping them into straight rhythmic strumming patterns. None of the YouTube instructional videos I've found focus on this aspect and no amount of music theory is going to help me figure out how to shape my fingers in anticipation of a single triplet at the end of an eight-bar phrase.

Sorry if I sound ungrateful. I certainly appreciate anyone who is willing to respond. I'm just trying to keep this thread on topic!

Papa Tom
11-12-2010, 06:47 AM
>>>Maybe this will help: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B3CHS1YFtLc<<<<

Yes, I've seen that video. Again, it's a great tutorial on how to play the triplets, but not how to incorporate them smoothly into a rhythmic pattern, especially when you do not strum with your pointer finger, as I don't.

misterpk
11-12-2010, 09:01 AM
Ok. I think I understand now. First off he's talking about tripleting eighth notes. Secondly he's asking how throw these into a standard pattern and have it make musical sense. Perhaps you're asking if there are any rules that will help? For example Aldrine says you can't ever chunk on beat 1. So you're wondering if at any point in the strum if it makes more sense to incorporate the triplets?

All I can say is practice everything very slow. Throw the triplets on the different part of the beats and try to keep your strumming in time. Experiment with throwing the triplet on the different parts of the beat. You should find that you like certain combinations better than others. It's going to sound pretty silly slow but speed it up over time. I'm sure Formby had to start slow too. :)

I'm sorry if I totally missed the mark or if that wasn't helpful. I'm not the biggest fan of the Formby technique so I've never tried to learn it. I just tried to offer you how I approach something I'm having a hard time with.

scottie
11-12-2010, 10:35 AM
. . . I'm not asking how to play or notate these triplets. What I need help with is actually dropping them into straight rhythmic strumming patterns.

ummm. . . that IS playing them, No?

Papa Tom
11-12-2010, 05:33 PM
>>>>ummm. . . that IS playing them, No?<<<<

Well....NO...not exactly. I'm saying that I've got the triplet technique somewhat down, but I can only play a whole series of them in a row. I can't yet incorporate them into a pattern that isn't just chickada-chickada-chickada-chickada. I want to play 1,2,3 Chickada 1,2,3 Chickada, etc...

I think I'm getting better at explaining the problem as this thread moves along! Is this any clearer?

StevieC
11-12-2010, 09:18 PM
If I understand it, the problem is in moving from your usual strum using ring, middle and pinky to a triplet strum with index and thumb. I would suggest using the middle instead of index in the triplet. Also, concentrate on keeping the right hand relaxed and practice at a tempo at which you can make the transition without a problem.

Papa Tom
11-13-2010, 02:22 AM
>>>>If I understand it, the problem is in moving from your usual strum using ring, middle and pinky to a triplet strum with index and thumb. I would suggest using the middle instead of index in the triplet. Also, concentrate on keeping the right hand relaxed and practice at a tempo at which you can make the transition without a problem.<<<<<

Yes, that's the problem. It's kind of like having a good camera but not being able to get it out of your pocket when you want to take a picture.

The middle finger and thumb combination doesn't seem to work as cleanly, as I can't achieve the ideal stretch/distance between those two fingers to keep the triplets in perfect time. I'll work at it, but I'm not sure that's going to be the solution in my case.

Jnobianchi
11-15-2010, 06:56 AM
Tom -

A couple of thoughts. The trick isn't getting the triplet alone, it's also getting back into the eighth note pattern.

I actually learned to play a triplet followed immediately by a downward strum to launch back into the strum pattern - not just da-da-da - but da-da-da Daa. Having it work as a four stroke pattern makes it less necessary to think about it.

I go downward index, downward thumb, upwards thumb, downward index. Alternatively, I go downwards pinky/ring together, downwards thumb, upwards thumb, downwards pinky/ring together. There's no reason you couldn't do that with middle finger instead of index or pinky/ring. I'm doing middle finger right now and it seems to work fine.

I think that that fourth, downward, stroke is the key to incorporating it into a strum. Which I think is what you're also saying.

Practicing with that fourth stroke - that "boo" :) - made it work for me.

Jnobianchi
11-16-2010, 03:24 PM
By the way, Tom, if you're doing a string of da-da-da, da-da-da, da-da-das, you've actually mastered the fan stroke, which is great! If you can also get the split stroke, you've got all of Formby's important strokes down. :)