Polymetric means two or more rhythms with different meter going on at the same time in the same tempo. In improvisation it means that you can play phrases in a different rhythmic meter from what the song has. If we talk about 16th notes of a 4/4 time signature you normally divide them in groups of four or even groups. If you instead playing or accentuating in groups of five the phrases becomes slightly offset.
As you'll see in the polymetric example above the emphasis is coming slightly offset when there are five 16th notes groupings against the four 16th notes groupings and this allows the rhythm to create a tension in the phrase. Furthermore, one can, for example divide phrases with any kind of groupings against any other kind of groupings.
Below there are some phrases I've done to show how they can sound. I also show them in the video lesson.
Here are accentuated phrases in odd groups of 16th notes:
Groups of five 16th notes:
Groups of seven 16th notes:
Groups of nine 16th notes:
Here's a lick in groups of seven 16th notes:
When playing these phrases against 16th notes in groups of 4 as I do in the lesson there are different polymeters going on and which creates a rhythmic tension in the phrases.
These are examples of mine but you can create your own phrases in the same way. When you have done a phrase you should practice it to a backing track or a metronome to get the feel of the phrase. After some time with practicing this you will find yourself playing polymetric phrases as a natural thing in your soloing.
For me it's inspiring to play and work with polymetrics. It's important in the practicing to play in context so you learn to keep the timing to the tune that's played. Otherwise it'll just be a thing you know and not can use in the real playing.
About the Author:
Thomas Berglund is a musician that has played in many different styles through the years and he has his heart in music with improvisation. He also work as a guitarteacher and have a YouTube channel with guitar lessons, performances, concert videos and more. Here's Thomas guitar lessons website.