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Not really rudiments - Page 3 - Djembefola - Djembe Forum

A place for teachers to discuss issues to do with teaching
By djembeweaver
#28958
I think the term "subpulse" is very clear. What about agreeing on cycle for the complete form, pulse for the division of four (or six as in konkoba and the like), and subpulse for the divsion in 12, 16, and 18? (Could we use beat exclusively for strokes on the drum???)
I think that's an excellent suggestion (I get to keep my pulses!). It's very clear, it will work in most circumstances and it should keep everyone happy. I don't think you'd even need the term 'beat' in this system.
Other terms in need for some consent seem to be polyrhythm and polymeter, polyrhythm just recently discussed on another thread of this board. 2 or 4 on 3, 3 on 4, and the like seems to be referred to as cross-rhythms in recent literature
Yes these terms are tricky. I'm going to read up a bit before posting on that.
Just to throw a spanner in the works, last month in Bali, I learned Sewa from Mamady (one of his own composition). Well, it sure looks like Mamady has just gone and put paid to all that research, because there are several parts (both on dunun and on djembe) that are partly ternary and partly binary.
I don't think that negates the research (John Cage's '4 minutes 33 seconds' doesn't negate classical theory...it just deviates from it somewhat).

Still, I'd love to hear it...could you post a snippet?
User avatar
By michi
#28967
djembeweaver wrote:Still, I'd love to hear it...could you post a snippet?
Here is a recording from Bali.
Sewa demonstration, recorded in Ubud, Bali, August 2012
(1.21MiB)Downloaded 375 times
Cheers,

Michi.
By bkidd
#28972
Hi Jon,

It's more of playing binary feel over triplet time. The djembe accompaniment and the dununba play evenly between beats two and three. For example, below is how I would notate Sewa.
Code: Select all
    1 - - 2 - - 3 - - 4 - - 1 - - 2 - - 3 - - 4 - -    
San x - - x - - x - - x - o o - - x - - x - o o - -
Dun x - o o -o- o -o- - - - x - - x - - x - - x - -
Dj1 B - S s -S- s -S- b T t B - - b - - B - - b T t
Hopefully that helps.

Michi can jump in here as well, but I learned this recently from Mamady as well (he taught it at camp fareta in july and in san diego in june).

Best,
-Brian
User avatar
By michi
#28978
bkidd wrote:Michi can jump in here as well, but I learned this recently from Mamady as well (he taught it at camp fareta in july and in san diego in june.
That's very close to the notation Linda and I came up with.

The call is (almost) pure binary. Not quite as it is written below, but that notation is closer to the real thing than notating it in ternary.

Note how the kenkeni can't decide what pulse it's on… I've entered various permutations of this into Percussion Studio and played them back to make sure the notation reflects the feel as best as possible. This one is very close, IMO. Percussion Studio sound sample attached.
Sewa.jpg
Sewa.jpg (53.86KiB)Viewed 3162 times
(1.18MiB)Downloaded 368 times
Michi.
By bkidd
#28980
Back to Jürgen's question about terminology, I think we might have some decent working definitions at this point that could be worth immortalizing on the glossary.

pulse - basic cyclical time unit of the rhythm. this cycle is most often grouped into units of 4 (or multiples of 4), but occasionally it can be 6 (e.g. konkoba) or 3 (e.g. kotedjuga or selikaro). typically, the pulse is what people clap or tap out when following music, and often dance steps will correspond in time with the pulse. i would equate the pulse with beat (or downbeat), but i can give this term up for purposes of discussions on this forum.

subpulse - division of the pulse into integer units, which are not necessarily always played but rather implied by the rhythm. the typical units for division are 2, 3, & 4, although 6 & even 8 can be found. when people talk about ternary versus binary rhythms they are really referring to the subpulses of a rhythm, which are either 3 or 2 respectively.

microtiming - i think rainer polack has written a very clear description of microtiming that probably everyone on this forum seems to agree with so we could use that.

polyrhythm/crossrhythm - this one gets a little tricky, but it's basically two or more contrasting pulses in a rhythm. the most typical contrasts are 3 against 2 (6 against 4) [typical for many dununba rhythms and other ternary rhythms] or 3 against 4 [typical for mendiani, maybe others]. i think one of the key features of a polyrhythm is that the contrasting pulses are inherent to the rhythms rather than having the occasional solo phrase that cuts across the time (playing triplet feel over a binary rhythm or playing binary sixteenth notes over a ternary rhythm).

visual demo:
Code: Select all
1 . . 2 . . 3 . . 4 . .
o . . o . . o . . o . .
x . x . x . x . x . x .
* . . . * . . . * . . .
the pulses would be on the numbers, the subpulses are the dots, and the "x"s represent 6/4 polyrhythm and "*"s represent 3/4 polyrhythm.

Best,
-Brian
User avatar
By djembefeeling
#28982
bkidd wrote:microtiming - i think rainer polack has written a very clear description of microtiming that probably everyone on this forum seems to agree with so we could use that.
could you cite his definition?
bkidd wrote:polyrhythm/crossrhythm
I wouldn't use both terms. polyrhythm refers to nothing but a multitude of rhythms. in every westafrican rhythm for drums, you have different rhythms. the kensedeni, the sangban, the dundun, the accompaniments, all play different rhythms. so all of the rhythms we play are polyrhythms.
from what Rainer wrote we can see that what you describe above was usually referred to as polymeter. but as can be seen in my quotation of Rainer, there seems to grow a consent among ethnomusicologists that this implies a problematic simultaneous sense of metric frameworks. so, I think it's better to have polyrhythm, polymeter, and crossrhythm as different terms for different musical ideas so that we know what we are talking about when we use those terms.
User avatar
By Carl
#28995
bkidd wrote:pulse - basic cyclical time unit of the rhythm.
I would add a clarification here... instead of the pulse being the basic unit for a rhythm, I would say that it is a basic unit of a part. Then you can have 2 different parts with different pulses. The combination of pulses would create a Polly rhythm (if I put my western music theory hat on I would call it polly metric, but that is getting a bit pedantic...)

polymeter: polyrhythm: crossrythm

Here is how I use these terms:

Polymeter: multiple pulse "frames of references" [example: 1st solo technique for Mendiani]

Polyrhythm: more than one subdivision (IE: same pulse, but one part subdivides in 3s, the other in 4s. See Bao for example) [on a side note, this is the "general term" I use for any of these situations, I only use the other two terms when I need to differentiate. like that doesn't muddy up the watters....]

Crossrythm: Same subdivision, but different groupings, similar but different than polymeter. Dununba for Sorsonet is the clearest example, if you hear the first hit of each group of 3 as a "pulse" I think that you are hearing it "wrong".

Clear? :-)

Carl
By bkidd
#29001
djembefeeling wrote:
could you cite his definition?
see http://tcd.[spam removed].net/djembemande/microtiming.html
Carl wrote:
I would add a clarification here... instead of the pulse being the basic unit for a rhythm, I would say that it is a basic unit of a part. Then you can have 2 different parts with different pulses.
I think that's a good point. My only question would be what term would you use to talk about a single overall "pulse" or "beat" that can be applied to many West African rhythms, even if various parts are playing to what could be perceived as different pulses?

Best,
-Brian
User avatar
By Carl
#29003
bkidd wrote: Carl wrote:
I would add a clarification here... instead of the pulse being the basic unit for a rhythm, I would say that it is a basic unit of a part. Then you can have 2 different parts with different pulses.


I think that's a good point. My only question would be what term would you use to talk about a single overall "pulse" or "beat" that can be applied to many West African rhythms, even if various parts are playing to what could be perceived as different pulses?

Best,
-Brian
Good question... My gut response is that I wouldn't try, but if you put my feet to the fire I would say something like...

This rhythm is "in" 4/4 with a crossrhythm (or polymeter) of 12/8... or something like that... it would depend on the circumstance.

I do feel like even in the more complicated rhythms that there is a dominant "pulse" and the "other" pulse would be secondary, but at that level of hair splitting, I think we begin to lose the importance of the combination of pulses. (does that make sense?)

C
By bkidd
#29005
The only examples of polyrhythms that I can think of come from rhythms that could be classified as ternary. Can someone give me an example of a binary (4/4) rhythm that is polyrhythmic?
Carl wrote:
I do feel like even in the more complicated rhythms that there is a dominant "pulse" and the "other" pulse would be secondary, but at that level of hair splitting, I think we begin to lose the importance of the combination of pulses. (does that make sense?)
I agree to both facts that there is a dominant pulse and we wouldn't want to loose the importance of the other pulses. In some sense, the pulse to pay attention to is an unconscious decision that depends on our experience and the context. I sometimes try to shift my perception to different pulses, but this can be dangerous because I can get turned around in the music and lose a strong anchor. Often in dance classes, I'm paying attention to their feet and that brings out a dominant pulse, mostly suppressing the other pulses.

Best,
-Brian
By djembeweaver
#29008
Brian (and Michi). Yes I can hear it now. Thanks.

I'd probably score it in 4/4 with the second half of the pattern tending towards a triplet feel. In support of this is the fact that the first B T T B in djembe 2 is slightly less triplity than the second. Unlike Michi though, I would score in triplets in 4/4 (rather than changing the actual time signature)

Actually 'triplets' might be another useful term in our arsenal.

Now to 'polyrhythm' versus 'polymeter'. These are well defined in the classical system (which incidentally applies as much to beebop jazz as it does to Mozart).
I wouldn't use both terms. polyrhythm refers to nothing but a multitude of rhythms. in every westafrican rhythm for drums, you have different rhythms. the kensedeni, the sangban, the dundun, the accompaniments, all play different rhythms. so all of the rhythms we play are polyrhythms
Not according to classical music theory. The term has a very specific meaning: two possible pulses within a bar. This is the device that leads to the rhythmic ambiguity in most west african 12/8.
Polymeter: multiple pulse "frames of references" [example: 1st solo technique for Mendiani]
Sorry Carl but in classical music theory this is a perfect example of polyrhythm (not polymeter).

'Polymeter' is reserved for a situation where you have two time signatures co-occuring. For example if you set 4/4 against 3/4 then the parts will meet after 3 bars of 4/4 (or 4 bars of 3/4). That is the standard definition of polymeter: two time signatures. Here's an example (using 5 against 4...I don't resolve it as solo phrases like these are rarely played out to the end of the cycle):
Code: Select all
1...2...3...4...1...2...3...4...
s.tt.s.tt.s.tt.s.tt.s.tt.s.tt.s.
These are highly confusing terms...look at the wikipedia page on polyrhythm for a good demonstration of this.

Jon
User avatar
By Carl
#29010
djembeweaver wrote: Sorry Carl but in classical music theory this is a perfect example of polyrhythm (not polymeter).
Be careful Jon, even within the classical world, there is not 100% agreement or useage.

Look at David Schiff's writing on Elliot Carter, or Henry Cowell's Book "New Musical Resources"

When you say
djembeweaver wrote:'Polymeter' is reserved for a situation where you have two time signatures co-occuring.
you are talking about a notional decision. You could notate the same situation in either 3/4 or 4/4 depending on your preference.

Some more examples of the ambiguity:

From "The New Grove Dictionary of Music & Musicians"

"Polyrhythm. The superposition of different rhythms or meters."

This is probably the most common and least specific use of the term Polyrhythm. This is my default term of any of the 3 situations being discussed. Incidentally, it could be any two rhythms (even if they have the same pulse and subdivision. So any two accompaniment patterns are polyrhythms in this case) For me, this is not specific enough for this discussion.

In the entry on Rhythm under "4. Rhythm and metre: Recent views."

It begins: "the meaning of the terms 'rhythm' and 'metre' - and the relationshp of the one to the other - are extremely controversial issues. This is true of their us in general, and of their more specialized use in music and in musical theory." It continues to discuss various uses and definitions for a full encyclopedia page (2 columns plus)

Further, while there is an entry for Polyrhythm (the generic term) there is no separate entry for Polymeter.

Cross-rhythm usually refers to a rhythm which has been displaced from the "pulse". A more accurate term for what I call "cross-rhythm" would be a "hemiola" however that term is now a bit archaic as it dates from the 15th century or so...

In current practice it is customary to define the terms as they are intended to be used in a specific discussion (as we are doing here). With the complexity of modern music theory (and modern musical composition) it is not likely that any "agreed upon" usage will coalesce in the near future.

In theoretical writings on Elliot Carter in particular, terms like Poly-tempo and metric modulation needed to be added to the list of complicated rhythmic relations. There isn't even a term (that I know of) for his notated accelandos (where one group of people accelerate gradually while another group stays constant... each part notated in the same metric framework...!)

Thanks for getting me to dust off my Grove... great reading!

Carl
By bkidd
#29015
Carl wrote:
In current practice it is customary to define the terms as they are intended to be used in a specific discussion (as we are doing here). With the complexity of modern music theory (and modern musical composition) it is not likely that any "agreed upon" usage will coalesce in the near future.
Indeed, I think this was the point Jürgen's original request to clarify these confusing terms. It seems like we've come to some tentative agreement on a couple terms. Polymeter and polyrhythm may be slightly more elusive. My take on these terms is that they are sufficiently ambiguous and pertain to specific discussions such that people could clarify what they mean in particular thread.

Best,
-Brian
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