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Time In Time

Part 1: "5 In 6"


by David Garibaldi

T
his article's topic of "5 in 6" is a polymetric idea that came to me as a result of studying Gary Chaffee's rhythm
concepts. His materials have been of great interest to me for many years, and I find continued inspiration in
them.
The term "polymetric" refers to two simultaneously played meters; here "5" refers to 5/8 and "6" refers to 6/8.
The basic meter is 6/8 with the 5/8 meter being played within it. Example 1 shows what this looks like.
The top rhythm in example 1 represents the 5/8 meter, and the bottom rhythm represents the 6/8 meter. The 8th
notes in both meters are played at the same rate. This example shows how both meters line up with each other.
The 6/8 meter, shown as the bottom line, is written as 8th notes with an accent on its first beat, one accent every six beats. The 5/8
meter is also written as 8th notes with an accent on its first beat, one accent every five beats. This creates a rhythm cycle that resolves
after five measures of 6/8—thirty 8th notes.

Example 2 shows the same cycle, but the only notes written are the first beats of each meter. Counting out loud is a very important
step. Counting gives you greater precision by synchronizing your mind and body—you say what you play.

Example 3 shows the same cycle, but the 6/8 meter is written as dotted quarter notes. This is felt and counted in the same way as
triplets in 2/4. The dotted quarters are the basic pulse. Thinking of this as a shuffle helps to line up all the triplets.

Exercise 4 doubles the length of the cycle, and each two-bar segment can be thought of as 12/8 (two bars of 6/8 = 12/8) or as 4/4.
Note the alternate counting.
Examples 5 and 6 apply the rhythm concepts of examples 2-4 to the drumset in the Afro-Cuban 6/8 style. The right hand plays the
traditional cowbell part, while the sidestick and bass drum play the rhythms of exercises 2-4. The left foot hi-hat plays the 6/8 pulse.

Exercise 7 is an invention that applies a folkloric approach to the bass drum part. Keep in mind that there is no drumset in folkloric
Afro-Cuban drumming. Experimentation with blending different styles and rhythm concepts can have some very powerful results.