Another dumb music theory question...

For those of you just joining us, I have taken up music composition again after a looong interval.

I never did play an instrument; I haven’t let that stop me. (heh) I am now using my PC & a cool (free!) program called Anvil Studio. One of the things that I have the most trouble with is rests, or the intervals between notes. I know where I want the notes to be, but I have trouble with the notation.

Anyway, I’ve written this thing with two percussion tracks in 4/4. Then I started writing a violin part over it; somehow, it only sounds right if I set the time signature on this particular track to 6/8. (Perhaps I should mention that it’s Middle Eastern in flavor.)

I can’t remember: can I do that? Or, yannow, is it done?

thanks, Dopers.

Sounds like you may have rediscovered notes inégales. That means every pair of notes is played as though they belonged to a triplet: the first twice as long as the second. This is equivalent to a 6/8 rhythm. Or rather, since you’re based in 4/4, it would be equivalent to a 12/8 rhythm.

Wow, Johanna, great link! And blazing quick!

From there I went to the page on triplets, hemiola, and polyrhythms. I think I’ve got something like that going on.

I don’t know why I feel I need a precedent exactly; but thanks, I feel better now.

Hey – the music program has a setting for “play in swing time.” I wonder if it would accomplish the same thing; I must look it up.

You probably won’t find any reference to swing in a standard music theory text. Music theory to this day is pretty much ghettoized: both classical and jazz prefer not to acknowledge each other.

That said, notes inégales pretty much = swing feel.

Playing in “swing time” will generally stretch two eighth notes in succession to a triplet with the first eighth note being played as two tied-eighth notes of the triplets and the second eighth note being played as a single triplet. If my explanation doesn’t make sense, I mean the first figure in this link. On many synths/drum machines, swing is expressed in a percentage. No swing is 50%. (When you encounter two eight notes, each gets 50% of a quarter note value). A triplet swing would be 66% (the first eighth note gets 66% of a quarter note, then seond a 33% value, or the same as the notation I linked to above.) A 75% swing would be a shuffle: the first eighth note would get a dotted-eighth value, the second, a sixteenth note. More subtle swings (in the 55%-60% range) would draw out that first eighth ever so slightly and contract the second eighth.

Of course, it’s done. Can you provide us with an audio link to judge how it’s to be scored? 6/8 over 4/4 is not weird at all. It might just even be written as 4/4 depending on how it sounds. Most blues/swomg music is written as 4/4, even though it plays more like 12/8 (which is just 2 x 6/8).

Um, three octaves? :wink:

I did come in to see if I could answer your question but it looks like it’s well in hand…

Just watching from the sidelines, but curious about the responses. Thus the post.

BTW, brujaja, I was watching something on TV just yesterday and the movie or trailer or whatever had closed captions over a Spanish speaking dialog. “Bruja” came up and I thought of you.

Reading this this morning, I just want to make sure the right tone comes through. It’s an “of course it’s done!” in a you-can-do-whatever-you-want, go-for-it sense. There’s no real “rules” to music. If you want to have a piano playing in E flat in 11/8 over a cello in C major in 3/4, nothing’s stopping you. As long as it sounds like what you’re aiming for, it’s good.

Um, only if you want to sound like you are strangling the neighbor’s cat! But that itself might make for a great opening oeuvre… :smiley:

I think it can be done and sound good. E flat major over C major isn’t that big a clash. And 11/8 over 3/4 could be fun, rhythmically.

Would anybody care to analyze rza - samurai showdown (instrumental) in terms of “you can do just about anything you want.”

I love this piece.

Keeping the eighth note constant (resulting in uneven barring), or keeping the bar constant (resulting in uneven note lengths)?

Either would work, but would result in rather different feels.

I’m almost tempted to try this.

That doesn’t sound too complex to me… You’ve got four different measures, each having four beats, repeated indefinitely. Certainly nothing as crazy as 11/8, even without being over 3/4.

If anyone wants to check out 11/8, try the Allman Brothers Whipping Boy. Intro and signature riff is in 11/8. Verses are in 12/8 (although quite often a 12/8 swing is written in 4/4). The song makes excursions back into 11/8 between verses. If you want to count it, just count 1-2-3, 1-2-3, 1-2-3, 1-2. You’ll hear it. Once you break down complex time signatures to twos and threes, they’re really not that difficult to wrap your head around.

If the latter, it could be written more clearly by for making it all 4/4 and using 11:8 tuplets to give the cross-rhythm.