Thursday, December 18, 2014

Thank you!

To the few loyal and responsive readers of this blog who annually contribute to its continuing, many thanks! 

The blog is important to me for several reasons: It is, as are all blogs, a place to rant and rave without editorial (or commercial - often the same thing) interference.  It is also a means for me, and hopefully for you, dear reader, to keep track of how complex this music thing is.  Just when you think you've got it, surprise!, a whole new area lights up.

This applies to teaching as well as to making music.  When I tire of either one I will become a professional potato masher - not that I have anything against either potatoes or those fortunate souls who get paid (!) for mashing them.

Everyone reading the blog thanks you who support it. 

An easy way to join them is at where a link takes you to Fractured Atlas, the arts-services non-profit which enables you to make a credit card tax-deductible gift. 

Thank you!

Origins of Rhythm

A member of the Music Theory Society raised the interesting and complicated question of what in a piece of music generates the beat.

It is far from a simple thing to observe.  There are people for whom the beat comes naturally and generally for them the difficulty comes when they want to alter the beat for some reason, to play as if improvising in a cadenza, for example.

But I believe that the most interesting and reliable source of a beat is the tone itself, or rather the tones themselves: As soon as there are two or more tones in play there is a hierarchy that the ear "invents" in response to their relatedness.  The result of this is the desire to hold one of the tones longer or make it stronger than the other(s).   Whether or not one has permission to do so is a function of the note value.  Wanting to hold a note that one must move away from is fraught with tension.

That tension is characteristic of the composed rhythm we encounter in classical repertoire, and that may include works written this morning.

Not paying attention to that tension is a sure-fire way to obliterate tone awareness, not for everyone, to be sure, but often for the most gifted children.  Alas.