Rhythmic Accuracy in a Metronomic Age
In the world of music the way of feeling time is an ever changing creature, and have been a topic of debate for centuries between musicians and intelluctuals. Personally I've fallen into the trap of thinking that I had a great time feel, because I loved rhythm or harmony. This was a big mistake, as over confidence led to depressing realisations along the way, but nevertheless it helped me grow. Generally when we speak about time feel in the pop, rock and jazz world, the ideal is to strive to be as solid as a metronome and never rushing or dragging / speeding up or slowling down.1. This sense of time feel came along with the invention of the metronome in Europe in the early 19th century. This way of understanding time is pedagogs and scientist dream tool, because it is measurable and easy to divide mathematically. I once heard somebody say that Europeans has and obsessions of measuring things and being very accurate. Well the metronome sure is all that. The counterpart to this was all music that existed before the invention of the metronome.
Back then there was no solid way of measuring time, other than by feel. The critique of the metronomic approach was that it lacked musical soul. When music is performed without some humane flexibility it can sound stiff, robotic and lifeless, it may be argued. An interesting phenomenom was brought to my knowledge during my musical studies, and if common knowledge between musicians. This thing was the concept of playing infront, behind or on the beat, a concept with on leg in the metronomic world and the other in the non metronomic world. Technically what this means is that the musicians is placing their notes fractions of a second before or after an absolute pulse. The placement of the note is so music that is practically inmeasurable, but of course if you put it under the microscope a whole new world of variation arises. People such as Malcolm Braff has taken this concept and developed a way of notating it, but it is still to complicated for anybody to sight read, maybe we will evolve?
If interested in reading more about the concept of playing infront, behind or on the beat, you can find out more on the by clicking on the colored text: Rhythmic Accuracy in a Metronomic Age. You can find audio examples in the soundcloud link below.
Thanks for reading and being creative!
1. Side thought: It is like emotions, we wanted to be able to control them. We get better, but we will never really be able to control our emotions. We might get excited, we might be hungry or we might be in love. All which may affect your emotions).
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