Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The Beat, Refreshed not Subdivided

One-y-and-a Two-y-and-a

So goes the standard solution to figuring out complicated dotted rhythms, ties, etc.  I strongly advise you not to do it and, in case you had it dunned into you at some point early on in life, do your best to drown it out.

A good way to accomplish that is through the Alberti bass, a repetitive figure that mostly bores, rarely stimulates the imagination.

Listen to it this way:  You are probably sustaining a quarter note over the sixteenth-note Alberti figure in the left hand:  Listen closely to the quarter note as you play the Alberti and you will hear it change, at times getting stronger, at times clouded.  These are overtones in action, an action that has great influence on how we feel the internal rhythms of the tones we play.

A masterfully composed Alberti will enliven overtones in successive quarter-note beats at different times during the beat.  For example, in beat 1, it may be the 2nd and 4th sixteenths that receive maximum reinforcement, while in beat 2 it may be the first and third, and so on.

In music in which the Alberti figure appears only some of the time it has a double function: First, as described above.  Second, to alert us to the possibility of our own internal involvement at that rate of potential variation within each quarter note.

This would do away with those uniform "-y-and-a"s .  What a relief!