Rhythm is music’s pattern in time. Whatever other elements a piece of music may have, such as melody and harmony, the one indispensable element is rhythm.
There’s more to life than four beats to the bar
A bar or measure is a way of organising music into small sections. Most of the music that you listen to has a regular pulse which you can easily detect. Sometimes, it’s 1-2, 1-2 (marching time), sometimes 1-2-3, 1-2-3 (waltz time). More likely, it’s going to be 1-2-3-4, 1-2-3-4, which is so ubiquitous it’s called Common Time.
Here’s just one of many ways that the 4/4 time signature (four crotchets/quarter beats in each bar/measure) can be interpreted. Here the snare is hitting the off beats (2nd and 4th):
Since the 1980s, with the advent of synth / dance / electronic music, Common Time has become so common, it seems like it’s the only time available.
Well, it’s not. While four beats in the bar might be the default – and probably rightly so – you can have a lot of fun (and stand out from the crowd) by breaking out into other time signatures.
So, in this corner of the lab, I’ll be exploring what can be achieved when you go beyond the same old same old.