L5 : Triples & Triplets

Relevant symbols from The Key:

Π = downstroke with index, middle or both
P = downstroke with thumb
M = downstroke with the middle finger
Л = downstroke with E and/or A (Pinky and/or Ring) for a ‘fan stroke’
V = upstroke with index, middle or both
Λ = upstroke with thumb
Є = upstroke specifically with the middle finger (for a triple or triplet)
Ш = Any triple (ΠPV, ΠΛV, ΠVЄ, ЛPV, etc.) in half a beat
{} = placed around triplets or quad combinations that take half a beat
– = placeholder (let chords ring unless otherwise indicated)
|| = barline

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Triple Strums can be used natively in time signatures divided neatly into threes (3/4 and 6/8 most commonly) or used in any time signature as a triplet (where all three movements are compacted evenly into one beat). There are many ways to accomplish a triple strum or triplet on the ukulele. You may browse this video playlist for a sampling.

Using strumming shorthand, here are a few different triples as they would be notated (many more are possible): ΠVΠ, VΠV, ΠPV, ΠPΛ, ΠΛV, ΛΠP, ΛMP, ΠVЄ, MVЄ, ЛPV & MΠP. The most common/useful of these are ΠPV for average and slower tempos and ΠΛV for faster tempos. Others make their way into specialty strums and effects. When notating triples in strumming shorthand, a group of three symbols equals one beat:

  • ΠΛV = Π V = ΠVΠV = Π–ΠV = One Beat (Triplet, Two Eighths, Four Sixteenths, One Eighth and Two Sixteenths each equal one beat)

Triplets that are fit into the space of half a beat (sixteenth note triplets) are notated with the Ш symbol (which can stand for any triple combination that the player chooses). To imagine how this sounds, think of Ravel’s Bolero which uses this rhythm: Π Ш Π Ш Π Π in a slow 3/4 time. Another way to notate this choosing a particular strum combination would be Π {ΠΛV} Π {ΠΛV} Π Π (which takes more time to write, but is more specific). Sixteenth note triplets generally occur where rhythms are played straight (not swung) and in slow to medium tempos.

CHALLENGE

Earn your Strummer Level 5 patch by demonstrating four of the following strums that incorporate triplets (each from a different group). You may use a song or songs you are working on to demonstrate the strums, or one of the chord sequences you’ve learned so far. Demonstrated strums should keep a consistent beat with no noticeable pauses between chords.

  1. In 3/4
    Π – P – V –
  2. In 6/8
    ΠVΠ VΠV
    ΠPV ΠPV
    ΠΛV ΠΛV
    MΛV MΛV
    ΠVЄ ΠVЄ
    ЛPV ЛPV
  3. Π V Π V Π V ΠPV
    Π V Π V ΠPV Π V
    Π V ΠPV Π V Π V
    ΠPV Π V Π V Π V
  4. V V ΠVΠ V V ΠVΠ
    ΠVΠ V V ΠVΠ V V
    Π V ΠVΠ V V Π V
    Π V Π V ΠVΠ V V
    ΠVΠ VΠV ΠVΠ VΠV
    VΠV ΠVΠ VΠV ΠVΠ
  5. ΠΛV ΠΛV ΠΛV ΠΛV
    Π V ΠΛV Π V ΠΛV
    ΠΛV Π V ΠΛV Π V
    Π V ΠΛV ΠΛV ΠΛV
  6. Π Ш Π Ш Π Π (Bolero in slow 3/4)
    Π Ш Π Ш Π Π || Π Ш Π Ш Ш Ш (complete Bolero 2-measure pattern)
    Π – Π V Π V Π Ш
    Π Ш Π V Π V Π V
    {ΠVΠ} V Π V {ΠVΠ} V Π V