Polyrhythmic Creativity

DeLong Way To Polyrhythms Creativity on the Drumset, written by top Canadian touring and session drummer and clinician, Paul DeLong, is a step-by-step guide that provides a clear path to developing the polyrhythmic concepts and techniques used by many of the world’s leading drum artists.

Polyrhythms, also known as cross rhythms, are defined as the simultaneous use of contrasting rhythms. One of the most common polyrhythms, 3 against 2, is often employed to create rhythmic tension and texture in many ethnic and popular forms of music. This new book/audio package begins by explaining the principles of the 3:2 polyrhythm and then explores the most practical and musical applications of this rhythm in four-beat phrases and standard, five-piece drumset voicings.

Polyrhythmic Creativity is divided into four major sections covering 6:4, 3:4, 4:3 and miscellaneous rhythms, including transcriptions of rhythms inspired by drummers from Elvin Jones, Tony Williams, Bill Stewart and Billy Cobham to Simon Phillips, Vinnie Colaiuta, Antonio Sanchez and Steve Gadd as well as original examples composed by the author.

Each chapter starts with a basic subdivision of the key rhythm before progressing to more and more complex permutations, patterns and phrases. The accompanying audio CD contains nearly 100 professionally recorded tracks that support almost every exercise in the book.


DeLong Way To Polyrhythms Creativity on the Drumset is a 113-page book with supplemental CD, designed to inspire and enlighten the use of polyrhyhms on the drumset.

As mentioned in the description above, the book is divided into four chapters; Six Against Four (6:4), Three Against Four (3:4), Four Against Three (4:3), and Miscellaneous Polyrhythmic Ideas.

The first three chapters each start out with the standard notation of the topic polyrhythm, then go on to show the polyrhythmic notation. Exercises and examples using eighth-notes, triplets and sixteenth-notes are given for 6:4, 3:4 and 4:3. The last chapter includes roughly sixteen transcriptions and/or ideas influenced by drummers such as Bill Stewart, Virgil Donati, and Antonio Sanchez.

DeLong's playing on the 90-track CD is top-notch. Besides demonstrating a vast majority of the notated examples in the book, all leading with a metronome count-off, DeLong performs some of the polyrhythmic concepts for each chapter. These performance tracks, one for each of the first three chapters (plus an additional track in Chapter 3), demonstrate the topic polyrhythms in a musical setting; all performed with a bass player. DeLong supplies an additional play-along track (minus drums) for each performance track so you can play along with the same bass track. I want to mention that I find it extremely wise to supply the play-along track with only a starting count-off; no click pounding away throughout — just grooving with the bass player.

DeLong Way is a fine book but does fall short in several areas. Of the 113 numbered pages, thirteen have a full-page graphic or photo, and an additional twenty-three pages have an image or graphic that takes up half the page. The print, text and music notation, is very large — taking up a lot of prime real estate. While I think the large notation does make it easier to read, especially when there's so much ink on the page from all of the polyrhythm complexities, I think the book, once you reduce all of the large images and graphics, could have been printed with half as many pages. It almost feels like the book was purposefully laid-out and enlarged to justify the $24.95 retail price tag.

 Having taught numerous students who struggle with Pete Magadini's polyrhythm books, I believe, especially with the minimal amount of written discussion on the topic in this book, students will also struggle with reading and understanding DeLong Way To Polyrhythms Creativity on the Drumset. If you are an advanced player, have a strong grasp of music notation, and already have a good comprehension of 6:4, 3:4, and 4:3, this book is for you. With the bulk of the book being written as polyrhythmic notation, unfamiliar to many a musician, intermediate students will most certainly need the guidance of a private instructor when working out of this book.

It is also worth noting that, although it can be applied in a wide variety of music genres, DeLong Way is written from the jazz perspective (eg. recorded examples on the CD).

In summary, DeLong Way To Polyrhythms Creativity on the Drumset is an invigorating book. Paul DeLong has done an admirable job of taking the complex nature of polyrhythms and applying them to a musical situation. Recommended for drummers who meet the criteria I've already outlined, and who desire to creatively expand their polyrhythm vocabulary.