The 3/2 Polyrhythm with Arpeggios

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The 3/2 Polyrhythm with Arpeggios

In this video, we build on the the 3/2 polyrhythm we learned to count in previous lessons and play arpeggios over this polyrhythm.

Polyrhythms = using conflicting rhythms

Polyrhythm is the simultaneous use of two or more conflicting rhythms (this is the Wikipedia definition).

In this lesson, we will explore the 3/2 polyrhythm. What this means is that we will play a rhythm that could be counted in “threes” or just as easily could be counted in “twos”.

Playing Arpeggios with the 3/2 Polyrhythm

In the previous lesson, we saw how we count blend a 3 rhythm (triplets) and a 2 rhythm to create a 3/2 polyrhythm. In that exercise, we played the triplets by just playing the open 3rd string (G string) three times.

Now let’s do something more interesting. Let’s pick some notes of the C chord. This way each note of that triplet is different – as we pluck the notes of the chord or play an “arpeggio” of the C chord.

We can do this over C and then do exactly the same thing over A minor. See the example below.


C Am tab with doublestops

Using Concurrent Melody Notes (double stops)

In this example, we play

  • Open 3rd string (G string) & the 2nd string (B string) at the 1st fret for every triplet over C
  • The 3rd string at the 2nd fret and the 2nd string at the 1st fret for every triplet over A minor

Note that you’re playing two melody notes here at the same time (often called a ‘double stop’). And for the first note of each bar, that’s played at the same time as a bass note.


This example is very similar except now we alternate the bass.

Alternating Bass with Polyrhythms over C and A minor

When we take that example above and play it over 2 chords (C and A minor), it becomes very musical.

Polyrhythm C Am final
Polyrhythm C Am final


Putting it all together

The goal is to play that final piece of tab above.

You might note how we have layered up this piece bit by bit. So if you need to, go back and practice each of the exercises in this lesson individually before trying the final exercise.

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