Two Against Three

Two Against Three Animation

Ancient Traditions Book Cover

Further study on this subject: Ancient Traditions–Future Possibilities:
Rhythmic Training Through the Traditions of Africa, Bali and India.

By Matthew Montfort. Ancient Future Music (1985).
ISBN 0-937879-00-2. Book/CD Set: 69.95. SALE! $52.95:

30 Minute Online Lesson.
Custom private lesson via Skype or other service. $36:

 

The rhythmic feeling of two against three is very prominent in African music. The following is a step-by-step method to gain mastery of this bi-rhythm. This exercise was adapted from the book, Ancient Traditions–Future Possibilities by Matthew Montfort, Exercise III A, pages 18-20.

1. Count the numbers in the middle column out loud, tapping with the left hand on one, and with the right hand on one, three and five:

 
 
LEFT HAND     COUNT         RIGHT HAND
 
 
    1           1                1
 
 
                2
 
 
                3                3
 
 
                4
 
 
                5                5
 
 
                6
 
 
 
2. Then tap on one and four with the left hand while tapping on one with the right hand:
 
 
LEFT HAND     COUNT        RIGHT HAND
 
 
    1           1               1
 
 
                2
 
 
                3
 
 
    4           4
 
 
                5
 
 
                6
 
 
 
3. Combine steps 1 and 2:
 
 
LEFT HAND     COUNT        RIGHT HAND
 
 
    1           1               1
 
 
                2
 
 
                3               3
 
 
    4           4
 
 
                5               5
 
 
                6
 
 
 
4. The next step is to transfer your awareness from a feeling of six pulses to a feeling of two pulses with the left hand against three pulses with the right. Tap out the same pulses as in step 3, but this time count out loud only the pulses of the right hand:
 
 
LEFT HAND     COUNT        RIGHT HAND
 
 
    1           1               1
 
 
    *           *               *
 
 
    *           2               2
 
 
    2           *               *
 
 
    *           3               3
 
 
    *           *               *
 
 
 
Note: * = rest

5. Then count out the pulses of the left hand while tapping three pulses with the right hand and two pulses with the left hand, as follows:

 
 
LEFT HAND     COUNT        RIGHT HAND
 
 
    1           1               1
 
 
    *           *               *
 
 
    *           *               2
 
 
    2           2               *
 
 
    *           *               3
 
 
    *           *               *
 
 
 
It may be helpful to try the following counting scheme as a preparatory step:
 
 
LEFT HAND     COUNT        RIGHT HAND
 
 
    1           1               1
 
 
    *           *               *
 
 
    *           2               2
 
 
    2           &               *
 
 
    *           3               3
 
 
    *           *               *
 
 
 
When counting 1 * 2 & 3 * , accent the & of 2.

Then change the count to 1 * * & * * .

Finally, change the count to 1 * * 2 * * .

6. Keeping a slow tempo, alternate between step 4 and step 5 until it is possible to switch between them at will. This is similar to switching between the two perspectives of an Escher print.

Play Along to Two Against Three

This MIDI file accompanies the previous six steps (not including the optional preparatory steps given for step 5). Each step is repeated four times, with two bars of rest between the steps.

Further Resources

Ancient Rhythms–Future Grooves

Ancient Rhythms–Future Grooves: Audio and MIDI Percussion Groove Tracks from the Traditions of Africa, Bali, and India. Want more audio and MIDI files? Get this complete collection of groove tracks from the book Ancient Traditions–Future Possibilities. For a limited time, get both the book and the enhanced audio CD set with MIDI files for only $52.95 (SALE! Normally $69.95): Add 1 to Cart. Buy 1 Now.

Skype School

Skype online music lesson guitar pick icon carved in Bali for Matthew Montfort

Further instruction on this material is available through private Skype lessons with the author, Matthew Montfort.