15 nov. 2006

I'm bringing in music to my grad class. For example, Count Basie. Take the late 30s recording with Lester Young. The rhythm section is the most advanced of its time, with Walter Page and Jo Jones. (Don't forget, his full name was not Joseph but "Jonathan.") What makes it sound modern is the relatively even pulse of four quarter notes on the bass, rather than an up and down movement between the two halves of the measure. It's more of a 4 feel than a 2 feel. Still, the band might sound a little bit cornball to our ears today. But when Lester comes in for his solo, it's like something that could have been played yesterday. He sounds totally free, rhythmically speaking, though of course he is objectively playing in time with the band, in other words, referring to the beat enough so that there is no lack of synchronization and phrasing within the basic framework of the four or eight measure phrases. But his rhythmic concept is his own creation. Something unequalled to this day, except in Charlie Parker himself.

So what am I trying to teach here? Rhythm is not meter? Be attentive to theis kind of things? I think every educated person should know that a Blues has 12 measures.

Everyone else in my department feels that if you give too much versification, you will put students off. Because it is considered dry and technical. For me, it the very breath, the very substance of the thing. Don't get me started.

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