Re: Not really rudiments
Posted: Tue Sep 04, 2012 9:52 am
djembeweaver wrote:I think it's probably better to stick to existing terminology rather than try to invent a new one: 'Pulse' refers to the number of beats in a bar and each pulse beat can be split into 32nd (demi-semi-quaver) notes, 16th notes (semi-quavers) or 8th notes (quavers).
This is a very important subject for me, to clarify the terminology. There is such a chaotic variaty of terms out there that communication about african music is often disturbed by multiple misunderstandings. it would be good to come clear about it. Ethnomusicologists also couldn't agree yet on a common terminology. I am by no means completely in knowledge of these things, because I don't read that stuff every day, so it might be good to come to an agreement as a community about it and share work and readings for that purpose. Here is my current state of knowledge/ignorance about it:bkidd wrote:I've also learned that some people (so far only Germans in my limited experience) use 16/8 as a signature instead of 4/4.
Ethnomusicologists for african music haven't been well equiped for their studies with the tools provided by classical western musical terminology. I don't exactly know all the reasons why, but I am willing to learn more about that, because it goes to the core of what is different in the music we all still learn. One thing I know of is that those ethnomusicologists had a hard time to put rhythms with drums in western notational systems. they couldn't always figure out where to begin, they couldn't really deal with polymetric forms and stuff. last but not least, they couldn't reproduce the music. for a long time, african music was supposed to be "wild" and "chaotic", not regular and orderly, because the generations taking part in colonialism simply couldn't see the structure that we today know is there. when those biases where slowly overcome by some pioneers, they admired the exactitude of drummers. it seemed to be free from our heavy counts or emphasis on the beats ('pulses'), especially in polymetric forms.
Richard A. Waterman explained that in 1952 with a metronome sense, a sense for regular elementary pulses that africans are supposed to feel as a grid for orientation and exactitude. Though all empirical studies till today have failed to provide evidence for such a metronome sense, Watermans model had a strong impact in the community. I guess the notational systems we use by counting beats with two or three dots like Brian showed above is a result of Watermans theory. It is way easier to understand and read notation in this sytem than in the classical western system.
Important for those systems is the finding of ethnomusicologists of african music that this music has a cyclic form and smallest or at least predominant elementary pulses. for percussion instruments in general, manipulation of the length of a sound is very limited, so terms like quarters, 8th, 16th, or, on the other hand, quavers and the like, are considered irrelevant in this field. The most important German speaking ethnomusicologists like Gerhard Kubik and Alfons Michael Dauer regard this music in cycles with a number of the form. Thomas Ott, who wrote his book RHYTHMS AND SONGS FROM GUINEA with Famoudou Konaté in 1996 (in German), states that it has become common practice to understand such a smallest or predominant elementary pulse as a 8th whenever we put the music in classical western notation (p. 34. of the german version). Thus comes the unusual labeling of those forms as 12/8 = 12 elementary pulses of 8th or 16/8 = 16 elementary pulses of 8th.
In the German community of djembe drummers it has been established to call the subdivision of a cylce in 4 the beat, while the subdivision of beats into 3 or 4 elementary pulses has been reduced to the more convenient pulse. This is a clear terminology, alas it's so inconvenient to learn that you guys can use beat and pulse alike.
got to go, hope to continue later...