Learn the Pataka Triplet 8th Note Vocabulary

The Triplet Eighth Pataka Rhythmisation graduate confidently subdivides the beat in any tempo into swinging, pataka, triplet eighth notes. They can state the beat or subdivide it into three with ease. Their secret? They set up their dobodobo rhythm foundation first.

To set up your dobodobo foundation check this video first

Solid dobodobo, rhythm duration time, enables you to subdivide time into half beats (8th, eighth notes or dabadaba's), third beats (triplet 8ths, triplet eighths or pataka's) or quarter beats (16th, sixteenth notes or dibidibi's).

Solid time also enables you to double time (half notes or dubudubu's), quadruple time (whole note or one bar of 4/4 or debedebe's) or octupule time (double whole note or two bars of 4/4 or dybydyby's).

At the heart of this rhythm hierarchy is the almighty dobodobo.

Rhythmisation is to rhythm what solmisation is to pitch. Solmisation uses syllables (do re mi fa so la ti do) instead of notation to denote music.

Rhythmisation uses rhythm vowels (a, e, i, o, u) for rhythm duration, dipthongs (to indicate dotted and tied durations) and consonants (p, t, k) to indicate the 1st, 2nd and 3rd triplet subdivision of the beat. The rhythm consonant (z) indicates a triplet rest while (s) indicates duple silence or rest. This system was pioneered in Auckland New Zealand in 1982.

Triplet Eighth Pataka has three meanings.

Pataka is a single specific rhythm. Triplet Eighth means three triplet 8th notes. The [pa] occurs on the strong or first third of the beat. The [ta] occurs on the weak or second third of the beat. The [ka] occurs on the weak or third third of the beat. Note: [da] indicates the duple down of the beat and [pa] indicates the triplet down of the beat

Pataka is also a Rhythm Vocabulary made up of rhythms derived from the Triplet Eighth rhythm. These derivations are explained in full in the Triplet Eighth Pataka Handbook.

When rhythminicians say Pataka's they are referencing the Triplet Eighth vocabulary that follows.

3 Attacks


2 Attacks

1 Attack

0 Attack

An attack is the start of a new note. In rhythmisation an attack is shown by the consonant p, t and k. In the specific Triplet Eighth Pataka rhythm, there are three consonants thus it's a three attack rhythm.

Take a rhythm like zataka. The [sz] indicates a triplet rest which does NOT count as an attack. So zataka is a two attack rhythm.

The rhythm so uses the [s] and as it's the only consonant this is a zero attack rhythm.

In the video you noticed that the [ao] rhythm duration is twice as long as the [a] duration. Training your ear and speech to hear and say these durations in tempo is your task.

Being able to verbalise rhythm duration is a huge benefit of rhythmisation.

A second is being able to write out Triplet Eighth rhythms in plain English. Here are three examples:


Hic-ko-ry Dic-ko-ry Dock The
pa ta ka pa ta ka do zo ka

mouse ran up the clock The
po ka po ka do zo ka

(2) There's no-thing you can do that can't be done
         za ta ka     pa ta  ka pa    ta   ka buo


     za ta ka  pa ta ka  pa ta ka buo


This is phrase (2) on three strings of guitar tab. Notice how Triplet Eighth Pataka solves the single biggest limitation of tab--the inability to denote rhythm.

Now songwriters have a robust way to write out the melodic rhythm for their original lyrics

With a little training at the Triplet Eighth Pataka course at the Rhythmisation Music School hearing, saying, transcribing and writing Triplet Eighth is just a matter of course.

To enrol in the Triplet Eighth Pataka Course now go to

Hint: Do the Dobodobo course first.