Sunday, August 23, 2009

Five Finger Discount - The Unteaching of Odd Meters

One of the questions that burn in my mind is why aren't more songs in 5? or 7? or 9? or a mixture of various meters? Why do we get stuck on 4 in this culture? Well, part of it is that its simply not taught, and can be discouraged.
A couple of years ago I had the opportunity to take and electronic music class at the local community college, LACC. Prior to that, I have never even stepped foot into a CC and quite frankly I am glad parents were avidly against it in my early years. Anyways, there I met Michelle, a budding songwriter/piano player who told me that she was writing all of her songs in 5. No way, really? Why I asked her? She stated that it was because she had five fingers and thats the way it came out. Sounds logical to me, but our teacher (no names here), said don't do that all pop songs are in 4. Hummmmmm, crush that creativity.
Many schools seem to be like this. At Berklee in the 4 years I attended, odd meters were only mentioned in Conducting class an my Progressive music elective. Also, an instructor at GIT, had mentioned that they don't really teach or encourage meter exploratoin there too. Well CC or no CC, this may contribute to the attachment to four. But there are two great teachers that I know of that were bringing odd meter education forth, helping us to expand our rhythmic approaches. I am sure there are more out there, but the two I know of now is Don Ellis and Hank Levy. Both have instructional manuals that I am going to go through and surely babble more about.

Well, we've got five fingers for a reason, well actually ten, and some have thirteen - lets use em ALL!

Thirteen Fingers,
-BetZe13 Tune in


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