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Re: OT West African/African Diaspora rhythms: 3/4, 4/4, 6/8, 12/8

Rick Walker wrote:

> The salient reason why the shuffle in the blues is written in 4/4 and 
> not 6/8 from my experience is
> the presence of the backbeat (the offbeat clapping tradition from the 
> Afro Americans of the African
> Diaspora on the '2' and '4' of a measure).  The dancers dance to the 
> four pulse (every three sub pulses
> in 12/8) and clap on the '2' and '4'.
> The shuffle is based off of the 4 pulse in 12/8.     Due to the presence 
> of different polyrhythmic feels
> in West African based musics, musicologists have taken to counting the 
> music in 12/8 but
> honestly,  I think this is inaccurate and they are just trying to be 
> safe and beyond critique from
> other academics.

I have a more jazz related perspective.
(in a similar vein, and hoping Rick will enjoy this)
The salient reason that most jazz tunes are written down in 4/4 
(as in "Real Book" aka "Fake Book") is that it's much easier 
to scribble down, and then just write "swing 8s" at the top of the page,
in the knowledge that in most practical situations no-one cares if
a note or 2 is misplaced.

When I wrote jazz stuff it often had to be in 12/8 simply to avoid
a lot of triplet notation with awkward rests in it. I'd
then write "4/4 swing feel" at the top, or some such.

I'd let the academics have their say about notation, but
mostly because notation really doesn't work to define rhythm anyway.
Knowing what time sig a piece may be in, or which time sig it
*could* be in only gives you enough info to start
getting a feel for the rhythm, it's not a "conclusion".
If 12/8 makes for the simplest look on page, and is in
some sense technically accurate then why would anyone object?

The worst thing anybody can do when learning rhythm is to learn notation
*before* learning to play by ear. A lot of people do that, and it's
commonly taught that way , but it's easy to hear the difference in their 
and when someone can't play an offbeat without making
some physical movement on the on-beat it's easy to see the difference too.

andy butler