The 3/2 Polyrhythm

Play Video about thumbnail for module 1 of intermediate fingerpicking guitar


The 3/2 Polyrhythm

In this video, we learn to count the 3/2 polyrhythm by slapping the left and right hand on the guitar. This lesson is a fun one – and sets us up to play the polyrhythm on strings in the next lesson!

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”.

Visualize using boxes

One way to learn the 3/2 polyrhythm is to think in boxes.

Imagine that you have 6 boxes which can fill or leave empty.

We are now going to fill those boxes with rhythms!

Left hand

You need to generate two different sounds. In this video, I slap the top of the guitar in two places.

One example is to tap the table in front of you with your left hand and right hand in a way that will give two distinct sounds (e.g. your right hand is holding a pencil that makes the tap)

Now count to 6 and on the ‘1’ and the ‘4’ slap the table with your left hand.

Right Hand

Now play your right hand on the ‘1’, ‘3’ and ‘5’.


Putting it all together

Now try to do both at the same time. 

Take this nice and slowly. It’s really good fun but it does take a little while to master.


Now that you understand the concept and theory of polyrhythms, you are ready to play your first polyrhythm on guitar – the 3/2 polyrhythm.

The next article shows you how to play this on two strings.

Get the 105 page Guitar Fingerpicker eBook

Register for the newsletter and I will send you this book and a free lesson once a month. 

You can unsubscribe anytime.

Scroll to Top