I have had difficulty with this polymetric keyboard line at 1:55. I don't know if I'd call it polymetric or just a phasing ostinato, but regardless I am having a tough time playing it. The section is (primarily) in 11/8, but the keyboard plays a 17/8 repeating pattern over that. I have attached the sheet music that I have transcribed (I did not properly beam everything because I was transcribing for myself and I know the groupings from listening to the actual audio):

sheet music

I usually am OK with playing polymeters, but they tend to be a stream of notes, so that is easier than this, which has rests. The 17/8 pattern is not hard to play on its own, but when I play it over a loop of the 11/8 rhythm, I am unable play it in time. The rests and the syncopation become very difficult to count over the drums and instruments, which don't line up with the pattern, causing me to loose track of the beat and deviate and/or shorten or lengthen a rest, or accent wrong. What are some tips that can help me better play this?

1 Answer 1


It is tricky. You have to be able to feel your phrase in a different guise each time it restarts: the stresses falling in different places each time through. Writing it out in 4/4 makes the re-framing clearer. It's easier to count too. (The repeat's wrong but OK for practising.)

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But those guitar chords are hard to ignore! I would ghost them into my part if I was doing this with a band. And we'd start by practising it slowly!

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