What Are Triplets On Drums – How To Apply Them

Posted by Mike Schumacher

This article will explain what triplets are and how to apply them to the drum set.

Ever wonder what triplets are on the drums?

With triplets on a snare drum, the listener can hear one note, two notes, or three notes in succession. It all depends on the place where the drum is struck and the duration of the note.

Three notes per second, at 100% volume and evenly distributed across three distinct parts of the drum – this is how triplets sound on a snare drum.

What does it mean to “apply triplets” to a drum set?

When we play triplets, or three parts of the same note on a snare drum, we practice focusing our attention on timing our hits correctly to each part.

Drumming properly should be as precise as writing a mathematical equation, where every time you tap on the drums you should be within one quarter of a second of hitting the right spot on the drum head.

Like every note you hit on a snare drum, the hits should have the same duration and the same tempo.

Check out this tabulation of triplets on drums in this drum lesson.

You can add triplets to any set of drums with a decent set of hardware, as long as you have the right foot position and are consistent with your timing.

The great thing about triplets on snare drums is that they can be adjusted to fit any occasion, whether you are playing with a full band or just having fun on the drum floor.

The exact pitch

how to become a professional drummer

When triplets are taken to the next level, you learn that all notes you play sound different.

To test this theory, take a look at this article.

You will notice that all notes played at the same spot on the snare drum sound the same. What you are left with is the pitch of the note.

So, by moving the notes closer together, there is an increase in the pitch of the note.

Move one note of your drum kit closer to another one and all you hear is an increase in the pitch. This is how triplets are created.

Check out this article for more information on triplets on snare drums and how they fit in with other drum styles.

Types of triplets on the drums

There are five different kinds of triplets you can play on a snare drum.

1. Triplets with an even speed

When you hear triplets with an even tempo, or with no phase difference, it usually means that the timing is accurate, your hits are evenly spaced and that the instruments are hitting at the same moment.

These triplets usually sound softer than triplets with different timing.

Two notes together with an even tempo makes them sound sharp.

2. Triplets with no phase difference

Here, the timing and note duration are different, but the beat is the same.

Usually, three notes in a row are played with different timing.

When two notes are played in a different time than the third note, the fourth and fifth notes sound different from each other.

When you hear three notes in a row, they all sound different.

Here’s a tabulation of triplets with no phase difference.

3. Triplets with one kind of pitch

With this kind of triplets, the timing is the same, but the notes are slightly different in pitch.

These are more tricky to play, as you are trying to strike the right spot with the right amount of force.

You can start playing these triplets by holding one note in your left hand and slapping it on the snare head with your right hand.

If you play this way, you will see that the first note of the triplets sounds the same as the second note, and the second note sounds different from the third note.

But keep it up, and you will notice that the third note sounds like the first note.

Next, you will play another three notes, and another three notes.

Soon, the same pattern is found three times in a row.

4. Triplets with one kind of pitch and two different speed

In this kind of triplets, the timing is the same and the notes are slightly different in pitch, but they have the same duration.

This makes triplets with different timing easier to play and even more enjoyable to hear.

5. Triplets with different pitch and two different speeds

These triplets are harder to play than the previous ones, but they sound really cool, as you use different speed to strike the right notes.

One of the advantages of triplets with different pitch and different speeds is that they can be played simultaneously, which you will see in the video below.

So, based on the above, the three most common kinds of triplets are triplets with an even tempo, triplets with different pitch and triplets with different speeds.

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