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Handpan tips - Polyrhythms

May 01, 2024 2 min read

Introduction: Ever been captivated by the mesmerizing rhythms of the handpan? Well, get ready to dive even deeper into the enchantment with polyrhythms! In this guide, we'll unravel the mystery of polyrhythms, exploring how they add complexity and intrigue to your handpan playing.

Understanding Polyrhythms

Polyrhythms are like musical puzzles, where you play different rhythms or time signatures at the same time. It's like patting your head and rubbing your stomach simultaneously—tricky but oh-so-satisfying when you get it right! On the handpan, polyrhythms allow you to create intricate and layered rhythmic patterns that keep listeners on the edge of their seats.

How to Create Polyrhythms

  1. Foundation Rhythm: Start with a solid foundation rhythm, like a simple 4/4 beat or a basic groove.
  2. Overlay Rhythm: Layer a different rhythm or time signature on top of the foundation rhythm. This could be a 3/4 waltz, a 7/8 groove, or anything that contrasts with the foundation rhythm.
  3. Syncopation and Offsets: Experiment with syncopation and offsets to weave the overlay rhythm seamlessly into the foundation rhythm. This adds complexity and groove to the polyrhythmic pattern.
  4. Practice, Practice, Practice: Polyrhythms require precision and coordination, so don't be discouraged if it takes time to master. Practice each rhythm separately, then gradually combine them until they flow together effortlessly.

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Applications of Polyrhythms

  1. Dynamic Grooves: Use polyrhythms to create dynamic and engaging grooves that keep listeners hooked from start to finish.
  2. Textural Variation: Add depth and texture to your handpan compositions by layering polyrhythms, creating rich and intricate sonic landscapes.
  3. Improvisational Freedom: Unlock new possibilities for improvisation by incorporating polyrhythms into your playing. They provide endless opportunities for creative expression and musical exploration.
  4. Collaborative Potential: Collaborate with other musicians and explore polyrhythmic interactions between different instruments. It's a recipe for musical magic and unexpected discoveries.

Practical Exercises


  1. Basic Polyrhythmic Patterns: Start by practicing simple polyrhythmic patterns, such as 3 against 4 or 5 against 7, to develop a feel for the interplay between different rhythms.
  2. Gradual Complexity: Gradually increase the complexity of your polyrhythmic patterns as you become more comfortable. Experiment with different combinations and variations to expand your rhythmic vocabulary.
  3. Tempo Variations: Experiment with playing polyrhythms at different tempos, exploring how changes in tempo affect the feel and groove of the music.
  4. Live Looping: Explore the possibilities of live looping technology to layer polyrhythms in real-time, creating mesmerizing and intricate compositions on the fly.


Polyrhythms are like musical magic tricks, adding depth, complexity, and intrigue to your handpan playing. With practice and experimentation, you can unlock a world of rhythmic possibilities that will take your music to new heights. So go ahead, dive into the world of polyrhythms, and let your creativity soar

alexandre zunino
alexandre zunino

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