I’ve given a lot of thought to the idea of playing with quintuplets; I often wonder what more I could do with them, rather than just using them in a snare drum solo or in a simple fill on the drumset. I thought about how I could put them into a groove context and, furthermore, use them in a musical way. Most of my groove ideas are based on sixteenth-note quintuplets. If you have never heard of quintuplets, this is the place for you.
Sixteenth-note quintuplets are easier to understand if you compare them with triplets. If you play eighth-note triplets, then you play three notes per quarter note. It’s the same with quintuplets, but in this case, you play five sixteenth notes to a quarter note – they sound like the rhythm of the word ‘university’.
Maybe you’re now wondering in what kind of time signature you should play that? It has nothing to do with a bar of 5/4. You can play these in a simple bar of 4/4 as well.
To get into quintuplets and to get a better feeling of the microtime, initially it’s a good exercise to just play them on your snare drum. Use a simple single-stroke sticking: RLRLR LRLRL
Then add moving accents on every position of the quintuplets, with the kick and hi-hat just on the quarter note.
On top of that, try to move the accents around the kit and mix them up. Make sure that you maintain your dynamics.
If this is your first time playing with quintuplets, it might help to practice with a metronome that can give you a click for each of the full sixteenth note quintuplets. Start practising slowly (50BPM).