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Playing with Time

Posted by Roger Aldridge on Sunday, April 10, 2011

Here's something that I cannot explain.....   As a kid in school I struggled with math.  However, I discovered that I have a natural interest in music that expresses a non-linear sense of time.  Earlier today I posted a video of one of Astor Piazzola's tangos that I found on Youtube.  It's a stunningly beautiful piece of music....deeply expressive.  Listen carefully to the time meters used in the music and you'll hear shifting time.  That is, individual measures with a different meter.  This is what I mean by playing with time.

I use shifting time in some of my tunes such as A Samba Named Nancy, October Joy, Blues for Lester, and others.  I also have tunes that are strictly in one meter.  When I use shfting time it's because it feels to me that the music calls for it.  And, in those cases I like to do it in a way that feels natural -- not jarring or forced -- and flowing with the phrasing of the melody. 

In this way, musical time can expand or contract....or have a feeling of hanging in the air for a moment.  This can add a sense of drama or mystery to a tune.  It's like driving down a road and you encounter something a fork in the road...or coming around a bend to a stunningly beautiful mountain view....or a speed trap (ha ha).

When you have a chance to listen to my music, listen for how some of the tunes play with time.  I hope you'll share a sense of fun and adventure with the music.






7 comments on “Playing with Time”

mudbug Says:
Monday, April 11, 2011 @2:21:45 AM

I hear you. I also struggled with math, still do, but music came early and easily. I don't know if there's any correlation. Yes, as a drummer, I learned early how time can be elastic and contollable. Time can stand still or flow at different speeds, expand or contract. Watch an older musician play and you can see the years melt away. A true time machine.

Roger Aldridge Says:
Monday, April 11, 2011 @5:36:49 AM

Beautifully said! I've also heard old blues and some fiddle players do things with time that left me scratching my head. Lester Young has been one of my jazz heroes for many years. He did crazy things with time in his playing....while the rest of the band was in a solid 4/4 groove.

bj Says:
Monday, April 11, 2011 @5:50:04 AM

Chick Corea on Light as a Feather with Flora Purim singing embodies this concept. They're masters of it.

Roger Aldridge Says:
Monday, April 11, 2011 @6:30:49 AM

Exactly! Thanks.

bj Says:
Monday, April 11, 2011 @3:09:54 PM

You might have fun listening to some of janepaints music files, and find her stuff in other places online. She's another genius at it.

Having said all that, I'm just trying to make my left and right hands "match up" when they're supposed to on this infernal instrument. ;-)

Roger Aldridge Says:
Tuesday, April 12, 2011 @5:19:14 AM

Thanks BJ! I started listening to janepaints music and I like it very much. It's wonderful to find so many creative people here!

Humbled by this instrument Says:
Wednesday, April 13, 2011 @8:46:51 AM

Oh I mix the accents and metres all over the place! Have found I'm quite good at it. It's just that I generally don't mean to....

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