not a beautiful or unique snowflake (nothings) wrote,
not a beautiful or unique snowflake

I heard the weirdly-drum-syncopated maybe-Janet-Jackson song I'dmentioned many months ago at the supermarket last week after not having heard it since I'd first gotten confused by it back in, hmm, 1991-ish. I noted some key words from the song this time so I could look it up on line, but have already forgotten them.

The basic drum pattern of rock music is to mark off the quarter-notes of the music with alternating bass drum and snare, with the snare drum on the "backbeats". Written out as eighth notes, this could be notated as:


if you catch my drift. If you were to be in 12/8 instead of 4/4, it would just be


"swung time" is roughly 12/8 with notes limited to certain spots, and never appearing in the others:



Two measures of a 3/4 waltz would be:


Sometimes in rock music the chords will change an eighth note early, so the 4/4 drum pattern becomes

where the first 'b' has moved "back" an eighth note (onto the last eighth note of the prevous measure, but here we just have a single repeating pattern, so it goes onto the end).

So one day I'm hearing this song on the radio, and it's obviously intended as a mainstream pop song, but it's seriously screwed up. It's screwed up in that it's in 6/4 and the first beat has been moved *forward* by an eighth note, which, sure, you might do here and then as a dramatic syncopation, but you wouldn't make it be your basic continual pattern, not unless you were, say, King Crimson or something.

This is what the whole pattern was:


So it's like the two measures of a 3/4 waltz, but the first beat is delayed, and one snare is omitted.

Anyway, I was totally amazed with how screwy this was, and pointed it out to somebody else at one point when it came on, and he looked at me like I was crazy, and said, "no, the beat is much simpler, it's right here", and he counted off four beats in the space of 6 of mine--it was 12/8 not 6/4. And the measure started an eighth note later than I'd thought:


Note the last bass drum hit falls on a "weird" place where you normally don't put swung-time beats. In this case, the pattern froms a "triplet" sort of sound during s.b.b.s, but because it's a triplet from one backbeat to the other, it sounds a little less natural. Still, once he pointed it out, he was obviously right, and the weirdness of this pattern is much less than the weirdness of the other pattern.
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