Sunday, January 27, 2008
Friday, January 18, 2008
Monday, January 14, 2008
(a minor digression)
So, what the heck do you call an eleven note tuplet, anyway? I did a bit of searching on line, but nothing seems to list anything beyond septuplet. In frustration, I searched for the names of polygons and found a math website that lists polygon names up to one hundred sides. An eleven sided polygon is referred to as a hendecagon. Okay, bringing it back to music, a ten sided polygon is called a decagon and a twelve sided polygon is called a dodecagon. I believe I have heard a ten note tuplet referred to as a decuplet and a twelve note tuplet as a dodecuplet. With that in mind, my first guess was that an eleven note tuplet would be called a hendecuplet. However, thanks to my good friend kevin Johnson, I can officially tell you that it is an undecuplet. Kevin directed me to http://www.dolmetsch.com/ an online music dictionary.
(back to the point)
As I said, that's a lot of notes crammed into a small space. There is, of course, one very logical way to approach a measure like this: go really slow and use a metronome. By the way, the undecuplet figures are used again in measure twenty-eight which contains the nested polyrhythm from measure five (slightly reconfigured) and two undecuplets on the back end of the measure. I will post more about that one when I get to it.
Now, because the piece actually repeats the opening section after measure fifteen, I am able to play up to measure twenty-five. Some sections are smoother than others, but it will even out with practice. I feel like I'm making extremely good progress. The piece is only 30 measures.
Friday, January 11, 2008
Now if I tap my foot on the 4/4 downbeat and think of each as a triplet (i.e. ONE two three, TWO two three, THREE two three, FOUR two three), I can easily see where each beat of the larger triplet should fall.
This doesn't answer my other questions regarding this measure, but it is a step in the right direction. For now, I'm going to play the piece and, when I reach measure fifteen, I'm just going to play the triplet on the snare while I tap the downbeat on the hi-hat until it becomes second nature.
Tuesday, January 8, 2008
Questions, questions, questions flooding the mind of the concerned youth. Ahhh, but it is a great time to be alive... (pointless, esoteric Frank Zappa song quote digression).
Anyway, this is what I'm trying to work out. I admit it, I'm completely baffled at this point. I'm sure that someday, after I've worked this whole thing out, I will be a better person for the effort. Who knows, you may be a better person too! Probably not better than me though.
Monday, January 7, 2008
I wonder what Dr. Sacks would say about that. Was it recorded entirely by my brain long ago, only to be released now by this intense scrutiny? Or was it only partially in my memory waiting to have the gaps filled through actual study and practice? Is the brain a complete recorder or does it throw out things it doesn't completely get to make room for more important things? Personaly, I suspect the brain records and stores every experience. The right key could set any of them free, even things we didn't entirely understand.
Thursday, January 3, 2008
I tried this once before and got bogged down at measure five. The first four measures were not that difficult for me. These consist of syncopated phrases with some thirty-second note subdivisions and the polyrhythms are relatively simple triplets, quintuplets, and septuplets. Measure five, however, was very difficult for me. The first note is a half note, okay, no big deal. The second half of the measure is broken up into a quarter note triplet. That's easy enough too. The problem is that the triplet is broken down even further with a quintuplet on the first beat, another quintuplet on the second beat, and a sextuplet on the third beat. Steve Vai refers to this as a "nested polyrhythm", a polyrhythm within a polyrhythm if you will. This same figure occurs four times in the score: at measures five, eight, twenty, and twenty-three. I figured if I could crack this nut, I could surely do the whole piece. Well, I am happy to say I finally worked this part out. Hooray! Hooray for Michael!
I did it by just tapping my foot on the down beat (with a metronome) and playing the quarter note triplet on the snare drum. Then I just played five, five, six on the snare drum and tried to land a beat on one of the next measure. Then I played the triplet a few times. Then I played five, five, six again. After a while (quite a while) it began to just fall into place. I have now worked all the way up to measure nine. This leads me to believe that my goal is attainable. There is another nested polyrhythm at measure fifteen but, I think I'm up to it.
If you have any experience with this piece and if you have any advice that might help me get through it, please let me know. Once I have nailed this thing, I will definitely post a video.