Author Topic: Trying to tie tempo notes, time signatures, and drum notation together  (Read 155 times)

SailBum

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Hi Folks,
I've spent a lot of time lately watching youTube and surfing websites trying to wrap my head around this. The following is my current understanding. Please explain what I've got wrong. Thanks!

Time Signatures: Look like a fraction but are not. The upper value tells you how many beats are in the measure. The lower value tells you what kind of notes. So, a measure of 4/4 has 4 beats of 1/4 notes worth of notes in the measure. The sum of the notes and rests have to add up to 4 x 1/4 notes. That could be one full note. It could be 16 16th notes. It just has to add up to 4 x 1/4 for 4/4.

Tempo Notes: Often are in the form of 120bpm = 1/4note symbol. If it's just the rate, say 80bpm, it's implied that the note type is the lower value of the time signature. I'm guessing it might be technically ok for the note symbol to not match the lower value of the signature but that wouldn't be normal.

Counting: 4/4 is counted 1+2+3+4+ with the heaviest accent on the 1. The accent on the 3 is a bit less. 2 & 4 are lighter still but equal. 2/4 is counted 1+2+ with equal accent on the 1 & 2. 4/4 and 2/4 have the same period between beats when played at the same beats per minute. The period between beats is 1/2 second at 120bpm. It's the difference in how they are accented that changes the feel.

All of this holds together until I look at the drum notation I've found.
I typically see Maqsum described as 4/4 : D   T        T   D        T        & Ayub as 2/4 : D   -k  D   T
Each underscore is said to be a beat. This contradicts 4 beats per measure for 4/4 and 2 beats for 2/4.

First, where is the disconnect? What am I missing?

Second, if you wanted to play Maqsum at 100bpm would your metronome be sounding on each of the underscores or just on 1, 2, 3, & 4 when you set it to 100bpm.

Sorry for the long winded post but it's a bunch of material that I'm trying to tie together.

Thanks for the help!

SailBum



dHuGo

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Hi, SailBum, the time signature may be really a bit confusing with Arab rhythms. The problem - time signature is a product of western rhythmic and music theory. It was added to Arab music only about middle of last century trying to find some common standard for different schools in Arabic world and also to build bridges from Eastern to Western culture.

That means, time signature may give you some information on musical interpretation of an Arab rhythm, but only when you are fit in rhythmical interpretation of Western classical music.

An example: That Maqsum usually is in 4/4 notation in Arab classics, but there is another folkloric rhythm from Epypt called "Fellahi"with an absolutely identical base, only it comes a lot faster. To mark the difference, you may find a 4/8 signature at Fellahi pieces. To understand that,  you need a strong education what's actually the difference between quarter and eighth both as a note and a rest. If you have not the feeling you may find only a difference in speed playing a Fellahi twice that fast like a Maqsum. Otherwise sometimes you can find a Maqsum in 2/4 what underlines the Arab understanding of the structure of that rhythm, but it is not in relation with right  timing, when you would play it straight like 2/4 in western music.

From that we can take as conclusion that time signature maybe a useful tool to subdivide and classificate Arab rhythms, but it would be wrong to find an interpretation according only to it.


dHuGo

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You should agree with, that those point of view may touch mostly professional and advanced players. From your asking I understand that your problems mainly is in choice of a moderate speed to learn and how to adjust a metronome as a beginner.

So we are counting quarters as usual. 100-120 might be to fast for training, I'd do it with 50-80 until you can hold the speed for a continuous playing of about 10 minutes. Only then I'd try to increase it in steps by 10+ up to the original speed.

With an mechanical metronome every beat is a quarter. All subdivisions you make in your mind. Electronic metronome can play you a whole time signature with a different sound for main beat.

dHuGo

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We should further stop a bit on beats-pulses-thematics to complete, but I 'd like to clear up all that what I was talking about first and not to confuse you more than appropriate.

SailBum

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Hi dHuGo,

Thank you for the detailed response!

One problem here is that I'm an engineer. Not understanding the underlying theory makes me feel like I'm cutting corners. It certainly makes sense that eastern music doesn't fit perfectly into a western construct. That said, let's cut some corners and focus on the pragmatic part.

I was using 120 bpm to keep the math simple; I don't play anything that fast. What would you suggest for a progression? Stick to the basic pattern until I can play it at full speed for 10 minutes or stay at a given speed until I can play the various filled versions as well? Right now a basic pattern and a filled pattern are two totally different things for me.

To align on speed for a mechanical metronome, when you say 50, would that be the four down beats for Maqsum or each of the underscored groups? This assumes the version I listed in my original post because I have other patterns that use that same notation. I did follow what you said about the various versions.

Again, Thanks for the help!

SailBum

 

dHuGo

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If you have a measure of 4/4 and count then 4 downbeats every beat belongs to one quarter. Hence metronome's actually counting downbeats.

Me, I'm engineer myself too, I had some of those cunfusions in terms too and for years. I had an idea in my head, that "beat" is on every 1st count, the "pulse" should be the 4 quarters an wondered about some continuous "ripple " filling the gaps....! ;)

Terminology on rhythms isn't that consistent like in technology.: With a 4/4 measure we have a main beat (or "the beat"), what means the 1st beat in measure. Same time it is the 1st of all 4 downbeats (or simply "the beat") marking the quarters. Every downbeat is followed by an upbeat (when downbeats are called "beat", upbeat is named "offbeat"), but actually offbeat is a term to claim the eight pulses between 4+4 down- and upbeats. Whole scheme is the pulse, so a 4/4 time signature usually has a 16/16 pulse:

1 - + - 2 - + - 3 - + - 4 - + - |

1 - is the main beat; numbers 1 to 4 are downbeats; the + are the upbeats and all that - is the offbeat.

Something like this...

dHuGo

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about speed:
Do base first. When you have the base stable increase the speed. Then you may slow down an do a (filled) variation with (more and faster) ornaments. when it's going stable increase speed. etc

The rule is do simple first, speed it up and thereafter do it more complicated, speed up ...

But using a metronome makes sense rather when you have to do longer part with complex phrases .
Base and simple variations you should drill itself: You may start with a speed, you feel  comfortable with. After every 4th repetition you do a little step to more speed. When you feel discomfort stop it and begin same from your most comfortable speed again.

Another option is to do a "pyramid". That mean you start with a pattern, i.e. the Maqsoum. very slow. After 1st measure you should double speed and play it twice, therafrer double again and play it twice and twice (actually four times). You may try to double it again, but mostly two steps are fast enough. After the fastest part, don't stop but begin with the slowest again. Every part takes same time, what developes your inner feeling of speed.

bsfloyd

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Hello Sailbum and welcome to the forums!!!

Crap, I posted a reply with more explanations but it didnít go through because another post was coming through while I was typing it.  Maybe it will still show up later - hopefully.  If not, I will type it up again at a later time as Iím rather tight on time right now.

Nonetheless, wanted to give you a welcome!!

dHuGo

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Sorry, bsfloyd, I'm going to sleep now.... :)

SailBum

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Thanks!
This has been a huge help. I think I have enough of an understanding to relax about it and focus on practicing.
 
Regards,
Sailbum

P.S. Thanks bsfloyd,  glad to be here