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

On 9/11/10 9:45 AM, andy butler wrote:

> 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?

But up-tempo swing is usually not very close to 12/8, either. The faster 
the tempo, the closer the note values get to "even-eighths," and the 
swing feel is more defined by the placement of accents than by strict 
note values. Notating fast swing in 4/4 is almost certainly more 
accurate (and easier to read) than using 12/8.

Then there's the whole issue of being fluid with note placement with 
respect to the beat. Listen to some of the old big bands. You'll hear 
the ensemble playing so far behind the beat that you think they're 
dragging by accident, but when everything needs to be solidly on the 
beat, they're right there.

Really, this is simply a part of good musicianship--knowing your idiom 
well enough to be aware of what the notation doesn't specify. And the 
point of notation should be clarity; sometimes that means not