Friday, January 11, 2008

Deconstructing Measure 15

In my last post I confessed to being utterly befuddled by measure fifteen of The Black Page. I need to deconstruct the measure and learn it piece by piece. The most prominent element to my eye is the notation that this is a triplet figure played across the entire measure. Now, I mentioned before that it's confusing because the measure contains five quarter note length groupings, but I'm going to ignore that for now and focus on just playing a triplet over four downbeats. As I understand it that will be a 3:4 or "three against four" polyrhythm. On his website, Terry Bozzio gives a formula for working these kinds of figures out. First, I need to multiply three and four to find a common denominator. Three times four equals twelve, so the first thing I'm going to do is write out twelve evenly spaced beats on a page. Next, to find the 4/4 downbeat, I will draw a stem going down from every third beat. This should give me four notes extending downward with two notes between each beat. Next, to find the triplet, I will draw a stem going up from every fourth beat. This should give me three notes extending upward with three notes between each beat.

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.

No comments: