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Author David Luebbert
Posted 12/5/07; 11:46:44 PM
Topic Acpala
Msg# 5367 (in response to 5366)
Prev/Next 5366/5368
Reads 712

If you pay most attention to the bell part, you could make a case that the rhythm should be counted in 2/4. It does sound like it divides the rhythm cycle into two parts.

If you pay attention to the two interlocking high drum parts, you'd probably hear those parts in 4/4.

The Shekere part (the subtle swish sound under everything) you'd notate in 4/4.

These high drum and shekere parts both seem to divide the ensemble rhythm cycle into 4 beats.

The low and medium parts make the best sense if you think of them dividing the cycle into sixteen hits. You would probaly choose to notate these parts using a meter of 16/8.

The low part puts hits on beats 1,3,4,6,7,8,9,11,13,14,15,16 of that sixteen beat division of the ensemble cycle.

The middle part puts hits on beats 1, 3, 5, 6, 9, 11, 13, 14, 15, and 16 of that sixteen beat division of the cycle.

Since African rhythms are layered this way with different parts using slower and faster divisions of a repeating time cycle, it's hard to choose a particular meter as THE meter for the ensemble rhythm. Musicologists call them polyrhythms for this reason.

I documented the rhythm as being in 4/4, because if you were improvising a melody above this rhythm, as a musician hearing in a European tradition, you would probably choose to emphasize the 4/4 nature of the rhythm in the melody you'd invent.

Listening in a more African way, you'd be right to hear:

1) a slower moving cycle of two beats inside of each repetition of the Acpala ensemble cycle, with the beats moving half as fast as the 4/4 count,

2) an even slower cycle that beats one quarter as fast as the 4/4 count, which marks the start of each repetition of the entire ensemble rhythm cycle (this beat marks the 1 beat of all of the faster cycles),

3) a faster-moving cycle of 8 beats that beats twice as fast as the 4/4 cycle,

4) and an even faster cycle 16 beats, which beats four times faster than the 4/4 count.

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Last update: Thursday, December 6, 2007 at 12:24 AM.