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'3 against 4' arpeggiated chords - anymore thoughts?
#2602174 01/08/17 12:38 PM
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Related to my last posts I am now wondering about ‘3 against 4’ arpeggiated chord playing.

Up till now, I’ve been unconventionally synchronising the 2nd & 3rd components too, like:-

RH – RH – RH – RH
LH – LH – LH

I’d presume this would be sacrilege on classical, whilst perhaps even clever on a non-classical song standard such as ‘Exactly Like You’ as the composer has alternated these consecutively across an entire phrase with 4s &/or 3s against 1s, thus:

RH – RH – RH – RH______ . RH – RH – RH – RH______. RH – RH – RH – RH______
LH – LH – LH___________. LH___________________. LH – LH – LH___________


, & thereby regulating the busyness to a minimum for impact and consistency.

Clumping in this way also makes for some very decent sounding final cadence chords. So I am in 2 minds as yet if I'll be departing from this approach all of the time. I'll need to try the alternatives and conventions first before making up my mind. Again, I'm sure there's much more leeway for alternate approaches such as this on the non-classical side, if relevant to classical (?)

The alternative would be to show off by convention, which might make for a testing practise exercise. Maybe later for me. I don’t know as I’m merely beginning to consider the polyrhythm question.

Up until now I’ve tried to refrain from having too much cognitive flexibility

I’ve instead been doing this synchronised clumping of ‘3 against 4’ throughout my growing repertoire to date.

It may be more correct for me on other occasions to show off with a more conventional ‘3 against 4’ method.

The good thing is that I have memorised all the fingerings that I need to test such 3-4 polyrhythms with.

I guess so far from a quick internet browse that there are 2 possibilities from reading about 2 very close if not the same approaches for classical pianists (?)

[An interesting aside: I’ll rule out simple ‘left and right’ marching equally valued notes, which would have to start on the RH.

Note that this’d be a derivative of the clef-spanning or bridged single arpeggiated chord of rolling all 7 notes independently, which I’d like to practise (at least) for familiarising with fingering, but avoid for playing as I do agree that bass & treble should initiate simultaneously as I’ve been doing (if a little too much into the 2nd & 3rd components as well).


Comment anyway on this if necessary]

The 2 conventions that I’m surmising from so far, albeit they seem practically the same but relayed in different ways and I presume based on note rather than condensed chord progressions, are:-

1) via the suggestion of (16th) semiquaver RH notes with (8th) quaver (3-as-2 triplet) LH notes as per following forum quote

Originally Posted by Morodiene
Not Ver-y Diff-i-cult!

Seriously, on the syllable "Not" you play the first note of both hands together. On "Ver" you play whichever hand has the 16th notes (I assume you're talking 4 16ths vs. 8th note triplets). On "Y" play the next note of the triplet hand, "diff" the next 16th, "i" the last of the triplets and "cult" the final 16th.

So to clarify, if you are playing (4) 16th notes int eh RH and 8th note triplets in the LH, it would go like this:


& 2) ditto, but regulated due to the convenience of 3&4 being multiples of 12 as per the following forum quote or You Tube link “Polyrhythms: 3 against 4 and 4 against 3” https://youtu.be/wQWQUc8CCa0

Originally Posted by Ben Crosland
What Morodiene wrote is very useful (I plan to adopt 'Not Very Difficult' as my default phrase for this rhythm), but there is some crucial information missing.

The common multiple of 3 and 4 is 12, so the rhythmic interplay between the two parts is actually based on a structure of 4 triplet groupings,like this:


So, using Morodiene's phrase: - "Very" must be said quickly, and "Difficult" must be 'swung', so with a slight pause on "Diff-", and "-icult" being said quickly. (It seems impossible to get the characters aligned properly with this UBBcode, so to clarify - the second L should align exactly with the 2)

I would advise to start with a slow approach based on my triplet grid above, then moving across to the verbalisation as you bring the tempo up towards playing speeds.

Oh, but bearing in mind that the latter, if not even the former, suggests that these are precursory to the actual end beat, which is typically held for whatever is the value of the chord on the squiggled notation, e.g. often a full crotchet’s value thereafter.

Does anyone else think differently on this? For instance - using Ben’s 4 triplet groupings - would anyone land the beat on the 3rd R note rather than sustaining for an extra triplet.

I guess that it depends on the piece/tempo etc. as to what’s doable and feels right.

Looking forward to any comments!

Apologies for the length of post.


Another story is at the moment I am finding joy in starting arpeggiated chords often prior to the preceding melody note/s especially if there’re semiquavers beforehand, as I suppose we may have to.

Ps I’m also enjoying bringing in small arpeggiated chords prior to the preceding semiquavers resting/stopping as a rule of thumb on some pieces - and even when I don’t feel technically compelled to (even when finishing off crotchets or minims) – for consistency...

Last edited by concertinist25701; 01/08/17 03:47 PM.
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Re: '3 against 4' arpeggiated chords - anymore thoughts?
concertinist25701 #2602214 01/08/17 03:24 PM
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For info, so that we're on the same hymn sheet, I'd better show some examples (see link to previously uploaded photos) of the '3 against 4' arpeggiated chord structure, which seems to be very typical in published sheet music.

Excuse the over-marks!

1) at lyrics "...too?/rare"

2) at the final "...you" lyric

Please divulge! How do pianists usually play these?

Re: '3 against 4' arpeggiated chords - anymore thoughts?
concertinist25701 #2602311 01/08/17 09:00 PM
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3 against 4 is a rhythmic technique term ... you seem to be talking about rolled big chords (not poly rhythms or "3 against 4"). You are talking about what we call 2 handed big chords with three notes in the left hand and 4 notes in the right hand. They should be strummed from the bass upwards to imitate a guitarist or harpist style strum. You can also roll them simultaneously.

Here is pianist Mal Waldron masterfully changing the dynamics for each subtle "strum" (rolled chord). One of the best examples I have ever heard, STUDY HIS TECHNIQUE:

Re: '3 against 4' arpeggiated chords - anymore thoughts?
concertinist25701 #2602409 01/09/17 08:21 AM
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That’s excellent thanks, and yes I eventually realised this when I later tried to source '3 against 4' topics on rolled chords rather than rhythms; and conversely found nothing.

I noticed from listening to your source link that Mal Waldron strums them out as you mention, but also plucking them in too at sections. This is great to hear and thanks once again.

Ending or starting rolled chords on the beat was my last topic if you can remember from 3 or 4 months ago, but not to worry there as it seems to be a fairly discretional thing.

I've stuck with alternating the to-&-fro logic on 'Exactly Like You' as it seems to marry (or is it marry/divorce/m/d/m/d...) pretty excellently. It was Errol Garner that came into the conversation back then. Also great to hear his approaches too!

In terms of the polyrhythm that you say doesn't exist for rolled chords, I've now tried it, and it indeed feels too busy, i.e. to cram too much into such a short space of timing. I have managed to attain the cognitive flexibility to do it, but my instrument won't bring the LH/RH separation across too well as it might with a certain piano.

The LH & RH components are often beautiful in their own right and it appears that the best way to enjoy them together is to roll them simultaneously, as I've been doing so far.

However, I thought that I once did see/hear a You Tube clip showing an instructor rolling out a 3-4 chord in polyrhythm format hence my above original post. Perhaps I was misconstruing my memory of it as it was so long ago.

I know I can do it thanks to how polyryhthm is described/simplified above , although I'm not going to pursue it for rolled chords.

I am in total agreement with you there now. I do find it odd however, how it can coincidentally map onto the 3 against 4 question albeit a numerical coincidence - my theory or hypothesis being that such large chords are typically founded probably from an engrossment of study in the classics where rich phrases (lines of music) can form ergo rich chords where condensed.

I'll elaborate a little on my wider repertoire as it stands, and again I tend to practically stick to the notation (my list here:- https://plus.google.com/101735513117306508288/posts/eJ6ahiHXSrK ).

I'd certainly concur that they're best strummed in on the beat with regard to a fair proportion of songs (e.g. 'Basin Street blues' cannot be done otherwise, on concertina and probably also as with piano, on that song at the stipulated tempo.

There's rhythmically a lot of actual polyrhythm in 'Marta' that I've already overcome and got used to.

It's also tough to start with on 'Red Sail in the Sunset' even with ghosted crotchets on the bass clef running with (3-as-2) triplets on the treble clef, but becomes less daunting with memorisation/practice (well, for me anyway).

Thanks again

[ps: At the end of my original post I was musing on being able to hold the preceding note/s during rolling a chord that’s to end on the beat (on concertina of course, as well as piano presumably). Yes, all the way through 'At Last' it's an absolute joy to do this. However, I noticed today on 'Memories of You' that there is one instance where the sheet music will not permit it, but it's at a preceding crotchet (1/4 note) and therefore okay to release such a long not a little earlier than usual without engendering staccato or a ghosted quaver (1/8 note). This is certainly rare and funnily occurs at the lyric “And your spell keeps hold-ing me...” extract at link:-

http://musicmisc.kevinscotttoner.co.uk/#!album-49-20 ]

Last edited by concertinist25701; 01/09/17 08:31 AM. Reason: ?

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