Scrambled Passing Patterns and Takeout Notations: Part 1

Scramble!

An Introduction from Warren

I first started exploring club take-outs was with Reid Belstock, my partner in Smirk. Later, I would work with Lazer Vaudeville for a few years where I learned how to do a pattern created by a group called Manic Expressions, known as the “Wally Walk.” Since Manic Expressions came up with the Wally Walk there has been an explosion, especially in recent years, of patterns based on take-outs between 3 or more people. With this explosion of new patterns has come a need to describe how to do these patterns (casually known as scrambled patterns), and of course, since we jugglers are never content with what we have, a way to create new scrambled patterns!

A little over a year ago I met Aidan Burns and attended a workshop he gave about an ingenious and simple notation he came up with to describe scrambled patterns and generate new ones. I left it excited and invigorated, but also curious about finding another way to describe the patterns. After a few months of tinkering with numbers, I came upon a way to describe these patterns using siteswap. In this two-part article we will introduce you to our notations, the strengths of each, and teach you how to manipulate them to create new and exciting scrambled patterns!

I’ll turn it over to Aidan now, who will explain to you his Modular Approach to scrambled patterns.

Modules

First we can assume that takeout patterns can incorporate all the usual aspects of passing patterns, in particular passes, self throws, and also walking. In addition there are four features that are more specific to takeout patterns:

  • stealing clubs
  • replacing clubs
  • zips
  • flipping two clubs

These four basic units can be combined to make three larger modules:

  • substituting a throw (steal, replace, zip)
  • intercepting a throw (steal)
  • carrying a throw (flip, replace, zip)

Substituting a throw:

The manipulator starts holding a red club in their right hand. They steal a yellow club with their left hand, replace the red club into the pattern with their right hand, and then zip the yellow club from their left hand to their right hand. This takes two beats, and after substituting a throw, the manipulator ends up holding the yellow club in their right hand.

Intercepting a throw:

The manipulator starts holding a red club in their right hand. They steal a yellow club with their left hand. After intercepting a throw, the manipulator ends up holding the yellow club in their left hand, and the red club in their right hand. Also the person that the manipulator has stolen from ends up with one club in each hand.

Carrying a throw:

The manipulator starts holding a yellow club in their left hand, and a red club in their right hand. They flip both clubs, replace the red club into the pattern with their right hand, and then zip the yellow club from their left hand to their right hand. After carrying a throw, the manipulator ends up holding the yellow club in their right hand.

Putting it together

Each of these modules can be applied to either a pass or a self throw. Also here they are described for right-handed takeout patterns, but there are left-handed equivalents.

In any takeout pattern, the manipulator changes when one person intercepts a throw and the new manipulator carries a throw. These two modules combined take four beats. For the theory, we can assume that intercepting a throw and carrying a throw each take two beats, although strictly speaking this is not the case. In between carrying a throw and intercepting a throw, the manipulator may substitute as many throws as they wish. The simplest takeout patterns have no substitutions.

Four count roundabouts

To put the theory into practice, we can write down any juggling pattern and then split it into pairs of beats. Let’s start with a four count pattern:

A  self self  | pass self |  self self  | pass self > becomes B

B  self self  | pass self |  self self  | pass self > becomes M

M  car A>A | sub A>B  | sub B>B |  int A>B   > becomes A

Underneath the pattern we can write the manipulator’s role. He starts by carrying a self to A. Then he substitutes a pass from A to B. Then he substitutes a self in B’s pattern. Then he intercepts a pass from A to B. After an intercept, the manipulator changes. The juggler in position B becomes the new manipulator. The juggler that was the manipulator takes on the role at position A. The juggler that was in position A takes on the role at position B. This describes the standard four count roundabout. After the intercept, the juggler that was the manipulator becomes A. A’s next throw is a self, but he only has two clubs, so he can’t make this throw. The juggler that was in B’s position becomes the new manipulator. He also only has two clubs. So he stops juggling and carries the self to A. Note that we usually start the roundabout with the substituted pass from A to B. When writing it down, we start with the carried self, so that the manipulator’s role is all on the same line.

We can very easily create a new takeout pattern by changing the manipulator role.

A   pass self |  self self  | pass self | self self  > becomes B

B   pass self |  self self  | pass self | self self  > becomes M

M   car A>B  | sub B>B | sub B>A  |  int B>B  > becomes A

In this pattern, the manipulator starts by carrying a pass to B. Then he substitutes a self in B’s pattern. Then he substitutes a pass from B to A. Then he intercepts a self in B’s pattern. Once again, after an intercept, the manipulator changes.

After the intercept, the juggler that was the manipulator becomes A. A’s next throw is a pass to B, but he only has two clubs, so he can’t make this throw. The juggler that was in B’s position becomes the new manipulator. He also only has two clubs. So he stops juggling and carries the pass to B.

In this pattern, you might find it easier to substitute the pass from B to A if it’s thrown as a chop, and the club is replaced into A’s pattern blind by the manipulator reaching back, just like in the chopabout. Indeed this pattern could be used as a training pattern for the chopabout. You would start this pattern with the substituted pass or the substituted self.

There’s no reason why the manipulator has to do two substitutions in a four count roundabout. You get a very nice asymmetric pattern if each manipulator only does one substitution.

A1   self self  | pass self | self self  > becomes M2

B1   self self  | pass self | self self  > becomes B2

M1  car B>B  | sub B>A |  int A>A  > becomes A2

——————————————

A2   pass self |  self self  | pass self > becomes A1

B2   pass self |  self self  | pass self > becomes M1

M2   car A>B  | sub B>B |  int A>B   > becomes B1

In this pattern, when you go in one direction the manipulator carries a self, substitutes a pass and then intercepts a self. The new manipulator, going in the opposite direction, carries a pass across the pattern, substitutes a self, and then intercepts the next pass.

Once again you would start the pattern with the substituted pass from B to A.

A two count roundabout

Using these ideas, it’s easy to create roundabouts based on different passing patterns. Here’s one based on two count:

A  pass self | pass self > becomes B

B  pass self | pass self > becomes M

M  car A>B  |  int A>B   > becomes A

In this pattern, the manipulator carries a pass from A to B, and then intercepts a pass from A to B. After this the manipulator changes, and the juggler that was in position B, becomes the new manipulator, and carries the next pass. This is an example of a takeout pattern with no substitutions.

To start this pattern, the manipulator stands next to B holding one club in his right hand, and intercepts a pass from A to B.

Scrambled V

You can also use these ideas to create takeout patterns based on patterns with walking, and more people. The Scrambled V is based on the traffic lights pattern described in the article on three person runarounds.

A  pass self |  self self  | pass self > becomes C

B  pass self | pass self | pass self > becomes A

C   self self  | pass self | self self   > becomes M

M  car B>A |  sub A>A |  int C>C  > becomes B

In this pattern, the manipulator carries a pass from B to A, then substitutes a self in A’s pattern, and then intercepts a self in C’s pattern. After this the manipulator changes, and the juggler that was in position C becomes the new manipulator. Also the juggler that was in position A walks across the pattern (see the traffic lights pattern).

The manipulator usually starts by substituting the self in A’s pattern.

Using this theory, it’s possible to work out 27 scrambled v variations. There are three possible places for the substitution. In this case it’s on the second pair of throws. In each of these places there are three throws that could be substituted. In this example we substituted the self in A’s pattern, but we could have substituted the pass from B to C, or the pass from C to B. Also there are three choices for the throw that’s intercepted. Here we intercepted the self in C’s pattern, but we could have intercepted the pass from A to B, or the pass from B to A. Note that once you have chosen which throw to intercept, the carry is fixed.

Now let’s look at Warren’s double time siteswap notation.

Double-time siteswap

Aidan’s notation has the benefits of being simple and easy to manipulate, as well as telling you where the manipulator is physically within a pattern. My goal in trying to come up with a siteswap-based notation to describe take-outs was to be able to utilize the siteswap axioms in order to manipulate the numbers and come up with new and exciting patterns. Perhaps I want to do a steal with my right hand and replace with my left. What if I wanted to throw a double self, or do a couple passes in three count? This notation makes it relatively simple to accomplish this!

Anyone who has been a manipulator in a takeout pattern knows how fast and furious the take-outs seem. Take for example a simple substitution in a cascade pattern. The manipulator steals and replaces a club in the time it takes the juggler to make approximately one throw. What is physically happening here, and why take-outs seem so fast, is that the manipulator is making two “throws” for every one throw that the juggler makes. The manipulator is moving at double time. So, for every beat during a vanilla pattern, there are three throws being made, one from the juggler and two from the manipulator. Therefore, if you multiply every normal throw in a siteswap by 3, you can begin to describe take-outs. In essence, you can use three-handed siteswaps (but with a unique hand order) in order to describe take-outs. This unique hand order causes the numbers to behave in some very interesting ways.

Lets look at the simplest possible example of a take-out we can think of. Adam is juggling three clubs and Mark is a manipulator who has zero. We can create a table for the “base state” of this pattern below. Time is each beat in the pattern. Hand shows Adam’s throws as upper case, and Mark’s as lower case, and there are rows for Adam’s and Mark’s throws as siteswaps. In takeout patterns, the basic siteswap numbers that we’re used to are multiplied by 3. So a 9 is a cascade throw.

 

Time 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Hand R r l L r l R r l L r l
Adam 9     9     9     9    
Mark   0 0   0 0   0 0   0 0

 

The diagram above shows Adam doing a 3-club cascade with Mark just watching him empty handed. Now lets look at what happens during a very simple take-out. Mark reaches out with his right hand and steals a club from the right hand of Adam, and then places it back into his left hand.

Time 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Hand R r l L r l R r l L r l
Adam 1     9     9     9    
Mark   3 0   5 0   0 0   0 0

 

Let’s follow the club that starts at beat one. On that first beat, Adam “passes” the club to Mark’s right hand (siteswap 1 on beat 1). This is the steal. Mark then holds onto that club (siteswap 3 on beat 2) until beat 5. We can see that on beat 4, Adam has now emptied his left hand, and Mark immediately places that club into Adam’s left hand (siteswap 5 on beat 5). Therefore, this pattern can be written in double-time siteswap (dtss) as 130950. All the normal siteswap math works out, and in fact, if you plug this into a generator, you’ll see its even a valid solo pattern!

Some of you may be thinking at this point “why is the replacement a 5 at beat 5, and not a 3, followed by a 2 on beat 8?” Well, that is actually a slightly different pattern. Let’s look at why.

Time 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Hand R r l L r l R r l L r l
Adam 1     9     9     9    
Mark   3 0   3 0   2 0   0 0

 

In this case, Mark waits until Adam has thrown the club from his right hand before replacing a club into Adam’s left hand. If you try this in real life, it has a very rushed feeling for the juggler. An important concept to keep in mind here is that in siteswap, a number doesn’t represent the height of a throw, or when an object is even caught. The order of the numbers tell you when each object is released or “thrown,” and the numerical value tells you when it is next thrown. This concept is at the heart of why the simple takeout and replacement I described above would be written 130950 and not 130930920. As we’ll see in the example below, 130950 also gives the manipulator more room to do interesting things!

Let’s back up now to our example where Adam has 3 clubs and Mark is a manipulator with 1. What would the base pattern look like?

Time 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Hand R r l L r l R r l L r l
Adam 9     9     9     9    
Mark   3 0   3 0   3 0   3 0

 

Again, the siteswap 3 in Mark’s line means that he is just holding the club. It’s the equivalent of a 2 in vanilla siteswap. Let’s see what happens when Mark steals with his left and replaces with his right hand.

Time 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Hand R r l L r l R r l L r l
Adam 2     9     9     9    
Mark   3 3   5 2   3 0   3 0

Again, lets follow the clubs. Mark starts by holding a green club in his right hand. Adam “throws” Mark a red club to his left hand (siteswap 2 beat 1), Mark now holds two clubs until Adam has thrown another cascade throw on beat 4. Then Mark places his green club in Adam’s left hand (siteswap 5 beat 5) and then instantly hands the red club from his left hand to his right hand (siteswap 2 beat 6). The pattern has now returned to its base state! The dtss therefore is 233952. Notated this way, we can see how every right hand throw from Adam can be intercepted by Mark (as diagrammed below)!

Time 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Hand R r l L r l R r l L r l
Adam 2     9     2     9    
Mark   3 3   5 2   3 3   5 2

 

This pattern is the basis for the Wally Walk. The Wally Walk is a pattern where two jugglers, Adam and Ben, are passing 4 count between each other, and a manipulator, Mark, substitutes clubs from each juggler’s pattern. Mark first substitutes a pass from Adam to Ben, then substitutes a self in Ben’s pattern, then substitutes a pass from Ben to Adam, then substitutes a self in Adam’s pattern. This is repeated until Mark exits the pattern. It’s actually relatively simple to diagram this using the format we’ve been using.

Time 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Hand R r l L r l R r l L r l
Adam 2M     9     9     9    
Ben 9A     9     2M     9    
Mark   3 3   5B 2   3 3   5B 2

 

Time 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24
Hand R r l L r l R r l L r l
Adam 9B     9     2M     9    
Ben 2M     9     9     9    
Mark   3 3   5A 2   3 3   5A 2

You’ll notice in this pattern, Mark is always the manipulator. Let’s switch gears a little and take a look at the roundabout. As Aidan described earlier, in this pattern, everyone rotates through the manipulator position. This notation can be used to describe that as well, and the transition period between manipulator and juggler gets really interesting.

Time 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Hand R r l L r l R r l L r l
Adam 2M     9     9     9    
Ben 9A     9     2M     9    
Mark   3 3   5B 2   3 3   5B 2

 

Time 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24
Hand R r l L r l R r l L r l
Adam 9M     9     9     9    
Ben 9A     5     4   3   5M 2
Mark   3 0   3 0   3 0 9 2  

This starts similarly to the Wally-walk. Mark steals a club from Adam on beat 1 (2M), then replaces a club in Ben’s pattern (beat 5, 5M). Next Mark steals a club from Ben (2M on beat 7), followed by a replacement to Ben on beat 11 (5B). Here’s where it gets really interesting! After the replacement on beat 11 and the subsequent zip on beat 12, Mark only has 1 club in his right hand. On beat 13, Adam has started passing to Mark. Now Mark and Ben each have two clubs. Ben starts moving at double time at this point, so on beat 16 there is a 5, and on beat 19 there is a 4. These are just holds, but they have the effect for the sake of the notation, of putting Ben in the right rhythm to start doing the steals, which begins on beat 23 with a replacement to mark, who has just transitioned into normal speed via the holds on beats 14, 17, 20 & 23 (notice that in this case, the 2 on beat 23 is a hold and not a hand-across like it was earlier in the pattern!)

So why go to all this trouble to diagram these patterns in such nauseating, and perhaps confusing detail? The exciting thing about this notation is that all siteswap rules still hold true, most importantly, all the axioms that can be used to manipulate a vanilla siteswap! In addition, you can manipulate the pattern in other interesting ways as well. This can lead to the generation of new patterns very quickly! Now, this notation doesn’t tell you where to walk at any given point, but I find that to be part of the fun in figuring out how to make them work. In part 2 of this series, I’ll demonstrate some of these manipulations and show videos of the finished products! In fact, here’s a teaser video of the first pattern I created using the siteswap axioms and starting with the roundabout as a base pattern.

We hope you’ve found this article useful. These scrambled patterns can seem incredibly complicated at first sight. We hope that you’ll be able to understand them a little better now after reading this article, and that you can use what we’ve talked about to come up with your own exciting patterns. If you have any questions at all, or if you come up with a new pattern with what we’ve shown here, post about it in the comments below. Or better yet, teach it to us at the next festival or club meeting you find us at! Happy passing!

Special thanks to Bekah Hammond, Jeff Lutkus, Jamie Tucker-Foltz, Doug Sayers, and Wes Pollock for helping film these patterns with Warren. Also thanks to Bekah Hammond, Jeff Lutkus, and Crizzly for proofreading the article.

Warren Hammond

Warren began juggling when he was 13 years old in Roanoke, VA. Since then he has toured with Lazer Vaudeville, as a soloist, and with Smirk. He has two silver medals with Smirk at the IJA Team Championships, a gold medal in both the 3 ball and team Xtreme Juggling, a gold medal in the numbers championships,and is the co-recipient of the IJA Excellence in Education Award with his wife, Bekah Hammond. He has run dozens of festivals across the US, been a judge for the IJA championships as well as the director. He is also currently serving on the IJA Board of Directors.