A Zen master's life is one continuous mistake.
- Dogen

There are no mistakes. - Miles Davis

20 March 2010

Fixing Up Beats

While listening to a recording of a Strange Moon jam track, I noticed a pattern that sounded funky but elusive - or maybe I should say, funky because elusive ...

It sounded a bit swung, or what the Cubans call "fix" - with meter somewhere between four and six.  Was it ...

a) - x x
b) - - x x
c) - - - x - x

I'm still not sure; or maybe in the jam it was shifting a little between all of these feels.  The upbeats in reggae, for example, could sound either like b) or c) depending on the degree of swing.

If we decide on the triplet feel, we still have a choice between a) and c).  And actually a) could be expanded to read like this:

- - x - x -
now when we compare c) ...
- - - x - x
we see that the patterns are the same, only starting in a different place.  Of course, the relevant question in the context of the jam is, where does this pattern fall in relation to the pulse of the other instruments?  Assuming it's a triplet pulse, the beats would either look like this:

- - x | - x -
or this:
- - - | x - x

Fine points, these.  Still, such subtleties can have a surprising impact on the quality of the groove.

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