It is essential for every drummer to get familiar with triplets, including varieties of them such as the Steve Gadd and John Bonham style triplets. One can play eighth note and the sixteenth note triplets.
What is a triplet exactly? A triplet means that there are three notes in literal terms; so, playing the triplet is like playing a groups of 3 notes.
Typically, it’s easy to spot triplets in music. They appear as group of notes. The number three will be over top of the group of three notes indicating that the individual needs to play triplets.
Playing Like John Bonham – The Secret Lies in Playing Triplets.
John Bonham used triplets and triplet variations constantly, and he did it brilliantly, particularly in his drum solos. As mentioned earlier, triplets simply connote 3, in this case three sets. So, in playing them, the process is as simple as hitting your your drum thee times, and doing it three times again in that sequence. The pattern will sound like this: ‘Trip-o-let’. ‘Trip’ is one sound, ‘o’ is another, and ‘let’ is the last in the sequence.
Put your hands or feet to it (or a combination of the hands and feet):
RLL RLL RLL RLL
LRR LRR LRR LRR
RLL LRR RLL LRR
Let’s take for instance, the John Bonham’s “thump-e-da thump-pe-da thump-pe-da” (this is the drum sound according to John Bonham).
To start, use your right hand to hit the snare drum one time, and use the other hand to hit another drum, then for the important 3rd beat, you have to step on the kick-drum, which concludes the triplet beat.
Repeat this process until you are able to achieve a steady John Bonham’s thump-pe-da triplet beat. If you are consistent with your practice for at least 10 minutes in one month, you should be able to master the style. But, you don’t have to stop at this basic step. You need to advance to the next step and become a pro like John Bonham.
So, the next essential step that you need to take is to familiarize yourself with how to play the triplets on drums, including the lick drum using either the right or left hand, including your foot.
Now, don’t start by using your right hand to hit the snare drum; instead, begin by hitting a tom-tom with your right hand.
Alternatively, you can start out with the right hand hitting the closed hi-hat, or use your left hand to hit it. Don’t quit practicing until you are able to start making your endless series of triplets on drums in an effortless manner.
Remember, consistent practice for at least 10 minutes daily for one month will get you there, and you will eventually achieve great coordination, as well as smooth flow of John Bonham’s thump-pe-da, thump-pe-da, thump-pe-da triplet beats.
And, just like John Bonham, you should keep seeking out newer grounds in playing the triplet styles and beats. After discovering that triplet is the secret to drumming, he didn’t stop there, he continued exploring and enhancing his playing skills. So, he ventured into another step that involved accelerating the speed and at the same time keeping up with the basic triplet style or pattern.
So, to achieve the same, begin with the basic triplets – the thum-pe-da. Go ahead and play straight, non-stop for about 10 minutes.
John Bonham Triplets – Tips to Play Them as Sixteenth Notes.
This section is about how you can play the fundamental three note pattern as sixteenth notes. Well, speaking technically, these have ceased to be triplets, but you will find it a fun and variation concept to experiment with the fundamental or basic pattern.
You will still play the basic pattern in a smooth and even manner, just that it will move across the beat this time, and resolves in several spots. The reason is because every beat of the bar comprises of 4 notes — 1e+a—instead of three that is typical of eight note triplets.
Due to the overpowering beat of the three note pattern coming up against the 4 sixteenth notes’ natural pulse per beat, playing this can be somewhat trickier. However, if you practice it carefully and in a slow manner, the rhythm is a great one to play.
There are tons of John Bonham triplets variations online that you can lay your hands on and practice.
Steve Gadd Style Triplets:
Stev Gadd uses a few different types of triplets. The most difficult is the one described in my video here:
If you want to find out about approaches to drumming that you never knew existed, then you should check out Steve’s works and how he can make the little things in drumming so captivating and cool. He combines triplet fills in such unique manner that seems magical.