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).
On The Beat, Behindt The Beat
In Front The Beat
In recent times I have been practicing to improve my time feel and understanding beat placement. I thought to myself how do I practice beat placement? I have had teachers saying that you should lean back into in or like Dave Liebman said at a masterclass at Newpark Music Centre once (paraphrased): Playing in front of the beat is like a falling cat that always lands on its feet and playing on the beat is like a tank rolling along.
It is grand with all of these metaphores, but how does it actually sound like? In this album I clinically recreated how the beat placement might affect the time feel. If interested in supporting my work you can follow me on Instagram or buy the album on bandcamp.
Thank you for reading and have a lovely time!
Yours Sincerely, Otso.
8th of June 2018, I gave myself the challenge of composing 50 compositions by the end of the month. The idea of doing this came to me as I was listening to the music of John Zorn, and after becoming aware of his Masada books. Fascinated by his abilities to compose at such a speed as he did for the Masada books, I though to myself: If he can I can, and thus I started to compose. This turned out to be a process of acceptance, if you wanted to have some day for yourself you had to make lots of drastic decisions and accept that, that was the result of the moment. Sitting and thinking about of possible note choices would potentially steal all day, as the choices are infinite.
I would highly recommend this kind of process to any musicians. It is intense, not trying to say that it is not. But what you can learn from it compositinally and personally about yourself and your own limits. You will be surprised by yourself and what you will come up with! This is a practice
If you are interested in supporting me and get a sneak peak into my compositional process then you can find the sheet music in the link:
30 days of bass and video
This project did have the most exciting name, but it describes exactly what it was. Another challenge for myself in the summer of 2018. The plan of this project was to explore the sonic palette of the electric bass guitar. I did this by playing straight into a audio interface and adding just a tiny amount of EQ and Compressor to boost the natural nuances of the bass guitar.
Along with the recorded music, which was made with only using sounds of the bass guitar I wanted to have a complementary video to the music. The guidelines were simple: One video with music a day for 30 days in a row. Just like the Emerald project, this was an exercise in acceptance. Accepting every idea that came to me, as there was no time to sit and think about all the possibilities. The first idea is the best idea, that was the approach to this. And most often the first idea is the best idea in improvisation.
I can highly recommend these kind of challenges and exercise to any creative as they do push you and test your limits. And in the end you have a product, made 100% by you. Results may vary, but nevertheless it is a part of who you are and who you were.
Otso Kasperi Mielonen ©2019.
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