Somewhat related to my earlier question: Phrase to help count 3 groups of 17?

How can I count a 17 against 3 polyrhythm (to help me play it)?

Here's a little sound file I made of it in FL Studio being played at a slow tempo: https://picosong.com/wmUzR

Best I've been able to do is:


Thank you.


2 Answers 2


Polyrhythms, especially more complex ones like this, make much more sense if you chart it out.

  1. Find the least common multiple. In this case, its 51.
  2. List out all numbers between 1 and 51.
  3. Circle every 17th number.
  4. Square every 3rd number.

What you have left is a way to count any given polyrhythm. Obviously the larger your multiple, the harder it is to count (for humans at least).

enter image description here

This is how I learned old Chopin pieces, at least. Works for me.

Watching this thread. I'd be curious if there is a better way to do this.

  • Nice, concise answer. Although I can't imagine how any listener will actually perceive this exact pattern. 51 'events' is a long time to loose track of the pattern. I imagine it would sound more like a simple triplet feel with two 'hiccups' Commented Jan 14, 2019 at 22:33

Source: https://www.ultimate-guitar.com/forum/showthread.php?t=1868784#4

Subdivide the 17 into groups of three or the 3 into groups of 17 (the former is obviously much simpler than the latter).

It's always triplets!

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.