Metric Modulation Simplified

Easy Drumming That Sounds Hard

A metric modulation increases or decreases the tempo at what you’re playing, in relation to the note value setting the pulse. You can think of a metric modulation as a rhythmic illusion. This concept is quite common in classical music but has made its way to drum-set playing through guys like Tony Williams and Vinnie Colaiuta. Applying this concept to the drum set can seem quite daunting if not explained correctly. However, through simple methods, Aaron Edgar shows you exactly how to do a metric modulation in this video. If you’re not sure about how to use a metric modulation, you will be after watching this free drum lesson.

A metric modulation can actually change the time signature of what you’re playing. To understand how, play a continuous run of 8th note triplets in 4/4 time with accents on the downbeats. Then, move the accent to each fourth 8th note triplet. If you count the accents against 4/4 time, you’ll notice you’re implying a three-feel. This makes it seem like you’re playing 16th notes in 3/4 instead of 8th note triplets in 4/4. For some cool examples of metric modulations check “All Blues” from A Tribute to Miles (1994) with Tony Williams on drums and “The Lazarus Heart” from Sting’s …Nothing Like the Sun” (1987) with Manu Katché on drums.

The exercise Aaron Edgar uses to teach you how to play a metric modulation is actually a polyrhythm as well. The bass drum pattern that’s played against the 8th note triplets on the cymbal is a 3-over-2 polyrhythm, while the snare pattern played against the 8th note triplets is a 3-over-4 polyrhythm. For developing a good understanding of how polyrhythms work and how to come up with this type of patterns, watch the free drum lesson “What Is A Polyrhythm.” If you’re more interested in checking out Aaron Edgar’s drumming, watch him jam along to The Roots’ “Boom!”




  • Datta says:

    is it the same with time delay beat? I don’t know the exact name of that time delay thing, but it sounds like delaying the time . . sometimes it goes out of tempo to make you feel like “dragged”
    need little help here

  • shalom seramaan says:

    what kind of snare is that

  • Drummshark says:

    @bob Sayer

    that drum kit Is a Sonor SQ2, and the Cymbals are Hammarax. Aaron is a Buddy of mine, Crazy good drummer.

  • Bob Sayer says:

    That Drumkit is it a Pearl Masterworks Love the ride & crashes (what brand???) an informal & informative lesson reckon I know where he’s coming from. This bloke is good to keep on your Team.

  • Emmanuel says:

    Pdf please

  • einarabelc5 says:

    Yo!! what are you doing here? Now you have to make a drumeo video of knocking down cans with your bass-drum gun!!!!

    Joking aside, very information instruction!

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