Steve on Syncopation
Every month Steve Lawson hosts a video call for Bass Pack members of Musical U). I always enjoy this immensely and this Fridays call was particularly eye opening (or ear opening, I guess).
I've thought of syncopation as pushing or delaying emphasis forward before or after the bar so the emphasis lies off the 'one' . But inspired by Musical U's definition of it as 'the unexpected' Steve took as in another facinating direction.
Steve took 2 bars of quavers (eighth notes) and rather than counting as
| 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & | 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & |
He counted as
| 1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 | 3 1 2 3 1 2 3 4 |
With the usual emphasis on the '1' beats this gives interesting syncopation patterns, especially when notes are dropped.
As an example listen to Toto Rosanna, which is actually 16th note shuffle, and includes a straight section too:
Up to now I've been under the impression that Western music usually has a time signature of 4/4 or 3/4. This call showed me it can be both at the same time with syncopation. For example the keyboard stabs of Billy Jean:
We also discussed the relationship of this to the latin Clave and African polyrhythms. Plus a diversion into the wonderful Indian Konnakol.
I found counting this way helped with this classic:
This is often scored like this but I found it useful to count thus:
| 1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 1 2 | ^
Fascinating and worthy of much exploration.