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I am trying to learn Take Five written in 5/4 time. Traditional counting to the sixteenth note (1 e & a 2 e & a ...) seems cumbersome on this rhythmically complex piece. Any thoughts on securing the rhythm at slow speed while learning?

Last edited by tjkane; 05/23/17 06:39 PM.
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"Traditional counting" may be cumbersome, but it's a reasonable way to keep things straight. Lots of "5" rhythms can be broken down into 3+2 or 2+3. I don't know if "Take 5" is one of those. There are "5" rhythms that don't have any natural breakdowns -- _those_ are really hard!


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It is 3 + 2 most of the time.

It might be easier to think of in 10: 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 +, where the notes are played on the numbers and pluses in bold.

Take Five is by Paul Desmond, by the way. Dave said he would park in red zones in San Francisco because they were marked SFPD, which he interpreted as Save For Paul Desmond!

Dave could toss off complex polyrhythms with no strain at all, which is something you should strive for. Play the rhythm until it flows, and then start to count slower, one per bar, or even one per phrase. Then add in the other hand in a different rhythm, until you can do them independently.


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Take Five is a little tricky to count in the conventional way. Even though the 5 beats are grouped into 3+2, the rhythmic piano vamp has such a strong emphasis on the "and" of beat 1 that I've always just hummed that piano rhythm to myself to count the tune.

So rather than "1-2-3-4-5," it becomes "1-AND-a-3,4-5, 1-AND-a-3,4-5." At least that's how I found it easiest to count while becoming comfortable playing the tune. Good luck!


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How about trying to count it 1 2 1 2 3. That may help you get the syncopation. In the first section there is a rest on the first "2", but the second "2" is the note you emphasize. Once you get the syncopation you won't have to count as the rhythmic patterns are similar throughout the piece.



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Originally Posted by tjkane
I am trying to learn Take Five written in 5/4 time. ?
What exactly are your difficulties :in basic rhythm (groove), in rhythm of melody , in hands coordination or in improvisation? It has already been said repeatedly that counting one and, two - and, three - and, four - and isn't verbalized rhythmic language, unlike the Indian konnakol and jazz scat. Mixing them, I got the following:

For total pronunciation of quarters in the bar 5/4 Ta ki tu Ta ki
For the main piano riff 3+2 (6+4) Tudaakadat bip bap
For B part of melody Taduu Kadut dadnbadn

Last edited by Nahum; 05/24/17 01:20 AM.
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I used to play this all of the time in a jazz trio. I was the drummer then. It is counted as" 1-2-3-1-2. 1-2-3-1-2. I played it as a swing, sort of like: 1-2.&3-1-2. The bass drum plays on both 1:s.


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Many different bets here.
I count it as 1-2&-3-4-5 with the emphasis on 2 (And swing feel between 2-&)

That feel (or reference) goes from beginning to end on the Dave Brubeck recording....non-stop

Last edited by RaggedKeyPresser; 06/07/17 07:27 AM.

Will do some R&B for a while. Give the classical a break.
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Last edited by cmajornine; 06/11/17 05:25 AM.

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