Category Archives: Rhythm

Afro Cuban Rhythm

Bouncing from one YouTube video to another, I recently came across a great series of films on Afro Cuban Rhythm – with very clear explanations of how the rhythms are layered. The central protagonist is maestro of Cuban rhythm, drummer Ignacio Berroa. There are some very good musicians involved, but I’ll let him introduce them to you.

Key to understanding the whole thing are the two main rhythms of the clave (although the qutoed graphic below from Wikipedia includes three – the extra one begin in 6/8). Note the interesting etymology of the word clave:

cla·ve [klah-vey]
noun - one of a pair of wooden sticks or blocks that are held one in each hand and are struck together to accompany music and dancing. Origin: 1925–30; American Spanish, Spanish: keystone < Latin clāvis key

This little graphic from Wikipedia may help to outline the key rhythms:

At the end of the 5th video (and running well into the 6th) there is a chance to see if you can keep the clave part going once they temporarily drop out of the music. Now there’s a challenge for you.

Pattern & Surprise

From the earliest lessons pupils learn to make sense of the language of music through the idea of pattern and surprise. This is one of the best examples I can think of – from Cello Concerto No. 1 by Shostakovich.

Here is the first phrase – a 5-note motif: Shostakovich – Cello Concerto – Sample 1

Now, phrases 1 and 2 – same rhythm (making it a sequence) – change of pitch (distinguishing sequence from simple repetition): Shostakovich – Cello Concerto – Sample 2

Patterns usually break away on the third phrase and sure enough the space at the end of the 5-note pattern has been filled with a 6th note: Shostakovich – Cello Concerto – Sample 3

But there is is another über-surprise hot on the heels of that. What would you do next? This? Shostakovich – Cello Concerto – Sample 4

 

 

Instrumental Instruction

Most people studying an instrument seriously at some point look into the evolution of their instrument: physics; ergonomics; manufacturing; technological innovation, national differences etc. Strangely, I’ve never once considered the origins, adaptations and alternatives to an instrument that millions of us use on a daily basis – the QWERTY keyboard.
Stephen Fry looks into the history here (2 days left to listen).
Here is an example of one of many rival systems featured in the programme. Interestingly, the notion of rhythm comes up, when a user of the Dvorak Simplified Keyboard takes down some dictation.

Nava Rasa Ensemble on YouTube

Guitarist and former Knox pupil, Simon Thacker, has posted three videos on YouTube featuring his recent East-West project with the Nava Rasa Ensemble. This film features: Simon explaining the origin of and ideas behind the project; rehearsal footage; interviews with members of the ensemble. Look out for waterphone at 0:16; the fantastic Brazilian/Scots accent of Maria Lima Caribé da Rocha at 0:47

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This film features extracts from Shirish Korde‘s piece Nada Ananda, concerto for guitar and chamber ensemble:

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This film features the final movement of Nigel Osborne‘s The Birth of Naciteka for guitar concertante:

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All three films feature explanatory notes to the right of the screen.

It’s interesting to note that Simon, who left school before the digital revolution, as we currently understand the term, was underway, has effortlessly harnessed technology in the service of communicating his art to as wide an audience as possible.

I’ve Got You Under My Skin

Last session I included a short Desert Island Discs session in an In Service as a prelude to offering a session on Audacity. The item I chose to represent my love of the craft of musical arranging was I’ve Got You Under My Skin (Cole Porter arr. Nelson Riddle) from the album Songs For Swinging Lovers:

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At that time, this was the only arrangement of the song I really knew and, as so often happens, it seemed like the best and only expression of the song. However, on Monday of this week, following another In Service, I heard a contrasting arrangement on the Radio 3′s In Tune – one of those moments when you end up sitting in the car, at the journey’s end, until the song was over. The singer is a sprightly 82-year old Barbara Cook with Michael Kosarin on piano and Peter Donovan on bass. I’m presuming the arrangement to be the work of Kosarin – a celebrated Broadway musical director. You can hear the song here at 27:35 (until it’s over-written by the edition on Monday 2 Nov). What impressed me particularly was the harmony from 28:27 – the arpeggios seeming to capture the giddy relentlessness of romantic obsession.

I’ve always felt the art of arranging to be taken for granted. Perhaps that’s a compliment to many arrangers – that their work makes songs sound so natural that it seems like no big deal. However, the result is that, compare to performing & composing there is little discussion of the topic. That’s why I consider this six-part interview of Nelson Riddle to be something of a treasure:

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Digital Delay

If someone were to mention electric guitar with digital delay, certain musical ideas might spring to mind – but probably not what happens from 4:00 in this video as the player is from quite a different musical culture. [kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/3pU9aUvA9c8?rel=0" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

David Byrne on the future of the recording industry

David Byrne writes eloquently, resonantly and, in one sense, optimistically about the future of the recording industry in the indented paragraph contained here.

If I feel as nimble as he appears to when I’m 56, I’ll be chuffed: [kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/glBAwQjFh9g" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]