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Learning about 5/4


GreenAsJade
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Hi All,

 

I started out to try to find out more about "unusual meter". 5/4 seemed like a nice simple place to start. Wikipedia took me to "Take Five" and "Vicarious", both of which it claims are fully 5/4 (IE they are in the 5/4 section, not the "partially 5/4" section)

 

(On a side note, "Take Five" is so nice it almost sprung an interest for me in jazz, which so far has been intractable for me. But not to digress...)

 

Take Five is wonderful from the point of view of having a consistent easy to hear 5/4 beat going. The only place I loose it is in the drum solo. Hence my question: is the meter maintained in there? Is it the case that the drummer just "goes off" for a while, or should I be able to count 5/4 to that drum solo if I try hard enough?

 

Vicarious is the other end of the spectrum. There are certainly places (for example, when the drums first start) when there are clearly 5 beats then a repetition, but I can't keep this way of hearing it going for any amount of time for most of the song.

 

For example, when the vocals start, the bass keeps the 5/4 pattern going, but what are the vocals doing? Do they have some meter of their own, beating across the backing 5/4, or are they just "syncopated" IE just doing whatever off-beat accenting they feel like but still "in" 5/4?

 

How about the intro? Does that have 5/4 underlying it in some way? How do you hear that? It sounds more like 3/8 to me.

 

And coming out of the "bridge" (atom bombs) ... does 5/4 keep going there? I can count 5, but I'm not sure how much of anything is repeating on the 5 boundaries, to define the 6th beat as the first of the next bar!

 

Thanks for any insights.

 

GaJ

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On the studio release of Take Five Joe is playing over the 5/4 time signature. How you can tell is that Dave keep that rhythm going. Now just because he's playing over it doesn't necessarily mean he's playing in 5/4. For the most part he is but he could be dividing 5 up in his head as many ways as he wants and could also play poly rhythms, but regardless he's either playing with 5/4 or against 5/4.

 

Most of the live recordings have the rhythm playing through the solo too.

 

Not sure on the other tune I'll need to go hear it.

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Doh, I should have posted links to what I was listening to.

 

Take Five

 

BwNrmYRiX_o

 

 

Obviosly, in here there's no-one else playing while the drum

is soloing. I'd love to figure out how to hear 5/4 keeping going while he's doing that!

 

Vicarious

 

hii17sjSwfA

 

(Creepy video, amazingly it appears this is not the official video, but just something someone did. Long song, but worth watching to the end I reckon anyhow. Then take another look at the kaleidescope in the beginning... wooo...)

 

GaJ

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Take Five is wonderful from the point of view of having a consistent easy to hear 5/4 beat going. The only place I loose it is in the drum solo. Hence my question: is the meter maintained in there? Is it the case that the drummer just "goes off" for a while, or should I be able to count 5/4 to that drum solo if I try hard enough?



It's not common for a drummer (or anyone in the band) to just ignore the meter while soloing. One of the challenges that great improvisers pose for themselves at times is how rhythmically syncopated they can be will still preserving the meter.


For example, when the vocals start, the bass keeps the 5/4 pattern going, but what are the vocals doing? Do they have some meter of their own, beating across the backing 5/4, or are they just "syncopated" IE just doing whatever off-beat accenting they feel like but still "in" 5/4?



Ultimately, the vocals will be in the same meter. The only way that something will be in a different meter is if the intent is to sound like to songs playing at the same time. The composer Charles Ives did this in some of his compositions, having one group on one side of the stage play one song in one meter/key/tempo, with another group doing something else. However, that's certainly not the case here.

The vocals are just using a very syncopated rhythm, and in fact are implying a different meter: 3/4 or 6/8 (something based around 3's). However, by the time two measures go by, that syncopation pattern is cut short to line up on the downbeat again with the rest of the band. I did a transcription of the guitar and bass parts a while ago when the song came out, which may serve useful to you. I didn't transcribe the vocal parts, however:

http://www.poparad.com/upload/tool_vicarious.pdf

What the vocals are doing is often called "playing over the barline" or "across the bar/barline," meaning that some rhythmic pattern is set up, and keeps going into a new measure, even though it doesn't line up right away with the downbeat. Sometimes the pattern is carried out all the way until it lines back up again, but more often than not it's cut off after about two measures so the beat doesn't get entirely obscured.

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Wow, that's a dedicated transcription, thanks for it!

 

I see that the intro is not 3/8, but 10/8 ... kinda 2x 3/8 then a 4/8. I started hearing that it was not a regular 3/8, but couldn't get my head around how to describe it.

 

You must have started going insane trying to write the middle bit with all those bars of changing meter!

 

What the vocals are doing is often called "playing over the barline" or "across the bar/barline," meaning that some rhythmic pattern is set up, and keeps going into a new measure, even though it doesn't line up right away with the downbeat. Sometimes the pattern is carried out all the way until it lines back up again

 

ah yes like the guitar in Bring Me To Life. In that case it's easier to "lock into" because it does line up again. Where chop-offs to make it line up happen it's disorienting!

 

GaJ

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It seems so to me.

My foot always defaults to a 1 and 4 tap when playing a fast 5/4. I'm thinking, "12345" but my body feels it more as a 2/4 (one triplet - 2 and) or an abbreviated swing 6/8.

It's a very "flowy" beat when done right. That's what I like about that Frames song. There's nothing forced about it.

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Thanks for sharing that.


I hear in this the accent on 1 and 4 (out of 5).


This makes it like 3/4 + 2/4 ... is that frequent in 5/4 tunes?

 

Yes, that kind subdividing is common in all time signatures.

 

What helped me hear, break down, and follow odd time sigs was a huge dose of John Mclaughlin. Even from the early days his music was polyrhythm and mostly all "over 8", like 6/8, 11/8, 15/8, etc...

 

After listening to that and find the sheet music it's really helped me to understand how he splits time up by feel to where you might get something in 15/8 that is felt as 6/8 + 9/8 or even 5/8 + 3/8 + 2/8.

 

They don't hav the Mahavishnu Prchestra songbook free online anymore but you can still gain a deep understanding of time divisions with score to a bunch of his stuff here...(and you can find the recordings for pretty much all of this on youtube)

 

http://www.italway.it/morrone/WBTG-scores.htm

 

Here's a few examples...

 

Guardian Angel

 

guardian_angel1.jpg

 

Remember, you are also at the mercy of how you perceive it and how "the transcriber" percieves it...is any one right or wrong??? Not really as long as it comes out sounding right and makes sense to "the reader".

 

So just because you think it's one way and someone else tells you it different...you play how you feel it, THAT'S what matters.

 

Here's an example of that...

 

Damce of the Maya

 

TheDanceOfMaya2.gif 10/8 counted as 3/8+3/8+1/8+3/8...or...

 

Dance of the Maya

 

TheDanceOfMaya.gif

 

Again, call it like you feel it. I've been in a couple of sessions where we played Mahavishnu Orchestra songs (with some great musicians I might add) and each of us described how we heard it...compared to the Mahavishnu Orchestra songbook...which has wicked time signature action. We each had listened to this music for over 30 years and each had our own way of counting it. We all ended up at the same spot...and learning each others feel also spawned new ideas for solo'ing over it.

 

So, for many of the odd time sigs...learn to feel them, then learn the subdivision your feeling...you won't be wrong.

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as shamelessly as i've cheerleaded this composition in other threads, i still think it comes to bear here and will do it once again. your focus appears to be more modern, but since "learning about 5/4" is the topic i think this is pertinent and worth the listen, if nothing else to see how it has been done in other genres.

 

this arrangement, simplistic as it sounds, completely and fundamentally changed the way i look at composition. it makes me feel as though my 4/4 and 3/4 pieces are rudimentary, foolish even. it was a bit of an awakening, as melodramatic as it sounds. if nothing else, it deserves your own listen and critique if you're considering venturing into the realm of 5/4. history is the best form of education. i submit to you a version (there are many) of sergei rachmaninoff's "isle of the dead."

 

http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendid=182077992

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I enjoyed listening to it.

 

If I could offer my own totally ignorant critique, it strikes me as similar to the earlier piece that can be heard as 3/4, 2/4. That one waltzes along, and in places this one has hints of that also eg 4:42, where one of the basic themes is repeating in an lilting way (obviously overall this is piece much more complex and varied).

 

This is in contrast to the metal sorts of 5/4 things (obviously!) where the 5th beat is a jolt in some ways, rather than th 5 beats being nicely broken into two almost halves that lilt along. EG Vicarious, where (in the lead into the first verse with guitar & drums) the 5th beat has the sort of fast triplet "da da da" fast jolt after the first four heavy beats. No lilting there :)

 

Rosetta Stoned ... that pieces is rhythmically intractable to me. Sure there are moments where a riff repeats on a 5 beat pattern, but for most of the song it seems to be an "irrational" rhythm (in the mathematical sense of irrational fraction - completely unrepeating!). I guess it doesn't help that I don't have a proper recording of it, just looking at youtubes of live performances!

 

GaJ

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