Counting off in polyrhythm

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Peter McFerrin, Feb 5, 2003.

  1. I'm writing a tune for my jazz-rock band whose head features an 11/4 melody line atop a 7/4 + 7/4 + 8/4 rhythm section pattern. (The bars of 7 are in a 4+3 feel, FWIW, while the melody line is in a 4+3+4.)

    Anyhow, how would I count this off? Would I count 7, or 11, or what? I was thinking of just counting off 3 or 4, but since the feels don't line up that probably won't work. Anybody have any experience with this stuff?
  2. If I was doing it, I would count the rythm section - the sevens and eight. The thing to do then is to keep an eye on whereabouts the melody is placed in the bar, as it will differ each time.

    If you wanted to think of it as a sequence of threes/fours, that works. Count one four, one three, one four, one three, two fours.

    Keeping track of the melody position at the same time sounds like the trickiest part to me.
  3. godoze


    Oct 21, 2002
    break it down into a smaller subdivision - 8th notes. everybody counts in 8ths ( since this is a common denominator) and you should be fine as long as everyone knows what meter they should be in.

    I have a lot of experience doing this. The world music group i played in used to play in five meters at once.
  4. godoze


    Oct 21, 2002
    tempo doesn't have anything to do with it.
  5. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I think he really wants advice about counting off in "smug"!! ;)
  6. godoze


    Oct 21, 2002
    Have you guys noticed the number of people that actually <e>do</e> count off by saying "5,6,7,8" even if they mean "1,2,3,4, ?"
  7. Chris A

    Chris A Chemo sucks!

    Feb 25, 2000
    Manchester NH

    I thought just dancers counted off 5,6,7,8.

    Chris A.:rolleyes:
  8. beermonkey


    Sep 26, 2001
    Seattle, WA
    Counting off the pulse of the song is what my the drummer does in the band I'm in with lot's of songs in odd meters. It just makes more sense... of course, it can really screw with the audience's head to see the drummer count 4 and the song is in 7/8.
  9. PollyBass

    PollyBass ******

    Jun 25, 2001
    Shreveport, LA
    Our drummer plays the snare and cymbles in 4/4 , but the bass drum along with the odd riff.. sounds cool....
  10. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002

    Does 7/4 exist?

    Logically it's not possible to have seven quarter notes in a bar?
    Whereas seven eighth notes in a bar is means just dropping the last note.

    I ask as I bought this loop pedal... and in order to set the meter of the click, you have to hold a button for two seconds then press again the number of notes you want in a bar... but it will only produce a click in a meter with a denominator of four.
    So, I tried to program 7/4 but it didn't seem to work... so either I'm being a techo-idiot, there's no such beat as 7/4 or this box just doesnt produce a 7/4 click?

    All I have to say about polyrhythms is Mark Mondesir! - A drummer friend (I say friend, I mean I tolerate him because he plays the drums ;) ) had one of his instructonal videos.. the guy plays 3 meters at once... 3/4, 5/4 and 7/8 :eek: If you've not heard of or seen this guy, you should, he's amazing.
  11. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Yes it does - there are parts of Stravinsky's Rite of Spring in 7/4 - I think it is your machine. Machine's can't do many things that we as humans can!!

    So - how can you loop something as simple as a Tumbao - where you pay on the 1 at the start of the piece but then never again - you
    always "avoid" the one.

    I was also given a tune with a written bass line in 15/4 - I programmed it as 5 bars of 3/4 which was good enough for me! ;) Maybe you could programme alternate bars of 3/4 and 4/4 for an approximation?

    I have heard Mark Mondesir playing drums with Jazz groups at my local Jazz club - there are some amazing drummers about in UK Jazz who can do mid-boggling things!!
  12. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    I had guessed it was the machine... it's no matter really, tis only a click... I always can use a click with no meter.

    I just wondered, because it said any meter with a denominator of 4, so pretty much any division should be possible, but it's obviously limited to the more common meters, 3/4, 4/4 and 5/4.

    Re: seven quarted notes in a bar.. this where the US terminology gets confusing... how can you have seven quarters?

    I know nothing about counting off polyrhythms, but I had been wondering where my Mrs had been going after work, now I know she's been flying to the states and being banged smugly by Pete...

    Jus wait till I ged my hands on you, why I orrrda!!
  13. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Well I found a part of the Rite of Spring on 7/4 and the alto flute and piccolo actualy play 7 quarter notes in the bar, while other wind instruments are playing a whole note and dotted half note - easy!!

    In the same passage there are also bars of 5/4 and 6/4 - so the piccolo play the melody and just has different numbers of "quarter" notes in each bar! For accompaniment : 5/4 = half notes plus dotted half note; 6/4 = dotted whole note and then 7/4 as I said - whole note plus dotted half note - it all makes some kind of sense!! ;)
  14. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    I just meant the naming really, as opposed crochets & quavers etc ... which avoids the "seven quarters?" thing... which logically speaking is impossible!
    So, a quarter note is a quarter length of the bar... ,but there are seven of them in the bar?!! ...but if you use the classical naming convention, this is avoided.
  15. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    What's wrong with 7 quarter notes?

    3/4 has 3 quarter notes, 2/4 has 2 quarter notes, 5/4 has 5 quarter notes etc. etc. does it matter that they aren't a quarter of a bar? :)
  16. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Yes - things like the Rite of Spring, show up how ridiculous that naming system is!! ;)

    Although I must admit I have difficulty remembering the names like crotchet, quaver - but when you see the actual dots/symbols on the stave, it is very clear what they all are. I suppose it shows that words are inadequate to describe music maybe?
  17. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I think what Howard is getting at is that if you treat them as "fractions" then 7/4 is logically : 1 and 3/4 !!!;)
  18. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    Actually, as far as the names go... I always wondered, what comes after hemidemisemiquaver?

    You got
    quaver = 8th note
    semiquaver = 16th note
    demisemiquaver = 32nd note
    hemidemisemiquaver = 64th note

    So what do you call a 128th note? :D
  19. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    Yeah, and 5/4 is 1 and 1/4...

    Why is 7 any different?
  20. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    No, it really doesn't matter at all!! :D

    I'm just talking about the fact that a quarter note is by definition a quarter of a whole note in length, therefore there can't be three of them in a bar.. they'd be third notes!!

    I too can't remember the quaver, semi-quaver what not either, obvioulsy I do use the quarter note thing!

    .. but am I the only one that can see that you just can't have seven quarters? :eek:

    It's like the world having three hemi-spheres... or a football match having three quarters!

    I understand it, and I accept it, but you have to agree it's not logical... captain ;)