'332' Syncopated Rhythm

There are a lot of rhythmic patterns you will come across that aren't a standard note value but are common enough to be given a name. The '332' rhythm is one of these. There are many rhythms that will be refered to with numbers in this way and once you understand what they are telling you, you will instantly be able to understand many different parts with ease.

Each number within the name refers to an amount of a specific note value, let's use eighth notes as an example. So what this series of numbers is telling you is to play a grouping of 3 eighth notes, then another group of three eighth notes followed by a group of 2 eighth notes. These would all be played as a continuous set of notes, meaning it would fill one bar, and the groupings would normally be highlighted with an Accent on the first beat of the group.

You will most commonly see the 332 used with eighth and sixteenth notes. These are written below. Notice the use of accents and phrase marks to clarify the groupings. You should also note that when played as sixteenth notes you can get two sets of 332 rhythm in a bar.

Eighth And Sixteenth note 332 rhythms.

It is important to understand that it is the accents in this pattern that are specifically the 332 rhythm. A lot of very cool parts can be created by playing around with the notes between the accents and there will be many lessons on this in later levels. With the notes between removed, the pure 332 rhythm is shown below. Eighth notes on the right and sixteenth notes on the left.

Eighth And Sixteenth note pure 332 rhythms.

This rhythm would be classed as Syncopated as the accents within it don't comply with those you would expect to see in the time signature.


  • Play all examples above, aim for a tempo of at least around 120bpm.
  • Treat the exercise as if it were a rudiment so experiment with orchestration and foot ostinatos.


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