What Music Genre/Tradition Uses this Rhythmic Convention? (European, early 1900s? Maybe?)

I’ll soon be taking a song into the studio to work with a friend who will be producing. I want to be able to play him some examples of what I’ve got playing in my head. It’s a not uncommon convention. Let’s put it this way, it’s common enough that I am familiar with it through simple cultural osmosis having never made any point to seek out music from whatever genre it is I’m thinking about.

My first instinct was that it was common in early 20th Century French Bal-musette. But I’ve gone through some examples of that genre on YouTube and I haven’t once heard the rhythmic convention I’m thinking of. I mention it because, knowing that I had mistakenly thought of it as Bal-musette might help to pinpoint what I actually am thinking of.

Another detail: As I play this rhythm in my head, I definitely associate it with an accordion- not solo accordion, just when I imagine the sound of a small band playing in this rhythm I feel like it’s genre typical to have an accordion featured.

I’m terrible at putting music ideas into words, but I would describe the rhythmic convention like this:

So, that’s probably a terrible description for anyone more musically literate than I am but I’m hoping it’s a terrible description that at least makes it apparent what I’m TRYING to say.
Links so I can listen to suggestions would be great!

Check out some Kurt Weill music from the Wiemar Era…The Threepenny Opera and Mahagonny.. You know…“Mack the Knife” stuff.


Thanks, Ukulele Ike!
I actually saw a wonderful production of Threepenny on Broadway about 10-or-so years ago. Alan Cumming as Mack and Cyndi Lauper as Jenny! So, I am familiar with that music. You’re definitely in the right ballpark but it’s not exactly right. Maybe as I comb through some other Weimar stuff I’ll find it.

I don’t know Weill’s Mahagonny, this is a perfect excuse to check it out even if it doesn’t present me with what I’m looking for.


Gypsy Jazz? (Look at other Reinhardt/Grappelli tunes at that link for more uptempo examples.)

Thanks, Hoops! That would all be compatible on a playlist with what I’m thinking, but it’s not what I’m looking for.
What’s in my head definitely is not jazz. I thought of putting in the OP that it’s not tango because I even thought myself that my description could kinda be interpreted as tango. Could possibly have some genealogical ties to tango but it’s definitely not the same thing.

Those hard hits at the start of the measures, that really is the strongest characteristic of whatever I’m thinking of. It is possible that it’s just that a few examples of individual songs that do that made their way into my consciousness, but I am pretty sure that it is a common convention for a very specific genre.

Klezmer? Example here, give it 45 seconds for the intro: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Jhy9DTAyRa0

How does it compare to Mazurka?

Not Klezmer. Not Mazurka, though I’m happy to learn of it- I was previously unfamiliar with mazurka. Mazurka is close, maybe another that could possibly have some “genealogical ties” to what I’m looking for.

I am prepared at this point to completely embarrass myself in front of you good people. I put a video of myself up on YouTube. I’m banging out the rhythm and bleating out “Bop Bah! Bop Bah!” NOTE: I am a particularly rhythmically challenged individual. So, even with my performance on the linked video you may have to employ your imagination a la “O.K., so that’s what he’s doing but I suspect what he’s trying to do would be…”

And, without further ado, he’s a video of your good friend beinville going “Bop Bah!”
like some kind of unwell person (remember to imagine the accordion!).

Hopefully someone will catch onto it quick. I’d like to delete that video as soon as possible!

O.K., I’m going to take down that silly video by the end of the weekend. I’ll hold out hope between now and then that someone will lock on to what I’m trying to communicate and point me in the right direction.

Thank you, to everyone who has added to the discussion so far!

I feel your pain, Bienville. I’ve got a couple specific songs I’ve been trying to find for literally decades.
Anyway, your video reminded me of a few things. Barring tango (which you said is wrong, but there are different type of tango music and similar S. American styles), the first was Brahms’ Hungarian Dance #5. Which is actually pretty close to a mazurka, now that I think of it. And would have been inspired by the music of folk bands that more than likely would have included an accordion.

But, there are many similarities between different European countries’ folk music and their offshoots. Compare German to Mexican (if you get bored with your wild goose chase, look up the history of norteno music, it’s fun :D) and then over to Cajun Zydeco which sounds like Scottish folk mixed with only a dash of French. Classic French blends well into Italian, and then you get to Sicilian music, which is just a short hop into (former) Yugo folk music…some of which sounds just like the German thing I linked.

I mention the French and Italian together, as their traditional music tends to be in 3/4 time, as in waltz. The others I mentioned are more 2/4, 4/4, or 6/8 (which you would think would sound like a waltz, but usually doesn’t)**. What you were humming in your video was definitely not 3/4, and probably not 6/8, either. Which pretty much rules out the bal-musette, as you noted, and a lot of Irish and Italian music. Hope that makes sense. Oh, and any of those time signatures can have a strong leading beat like your rhythm.

Hem. Where was I? Oh, yeah. Bottom line is, your rhythm seems definitely folk-ish to me, but it could be from almost any Western derivation. To make things more complicated, American pop music in the early to mid 20th century, just like the Romantic counterparts in the late 19th century, was often heavily drawn from the music brought over by the different waves of immigration.

Anyway, I wish I could help more, but I’ve really got to go to bed. I hope I’ve given you some good food for thought. You certainly gave me an amusing hour or so listening to different types of music! :slight_smile:

Oh, and you might try Musipedia. They’ve got several nifty ways of identifying music, from typing in notes, to playing rhythms, to humming into a mic. I know you aren’t looking for a specific song, but its wrong guesses might get you most of the way there. :slight_smile: In fact, that’s how I came up with the title of Brahms piece, because I know the song well, but couldn’t think of the title for the life of me…kept thinking it was one of the other folk-inspired Romantic numbers. So I punched in two bars worth, probably in the wrong key, no less, and got it in one.

**(The further east you move in Europe, the crazier the time signatures–not to mention key or mode, or seeming lack thereof–can get. Here’s a little primer on regular and odd time signatures I just found, re:Southern and Eastern folk music, with example songs. My musical knowledge is very piecemeal, unfortunately)

Darn edit window. I meant to say, my musical knowledge is very piecemeal and self-taught, so sadly I’m not great at giving concise written info. If you were in my living room, though, with the help of my spouse and our collection of badly-played instruments, I bet we could knock our heads together and figure this out PDQ. :smiley:

I know you said not tango, but all I could hear doing your demonstration was the masochism tango.

Great post, Elemenopy. Thanks!

I may make a broader search into tango. The rhythm I’m hearing in my head doesn’t match what I think of as a stereotypical tango, as I picture a man and a woman dancing pressed close to one another, leading with outstretched arms, trading a long stem rose back and forth clenched between their teeth…

But it may have been a debilitating error on my part to dismiss tango completely based on one cartoon inspired notion I have in my head as to what it is.

If I find it in my deeper exploration into tango, then I’ll owe an apology to everyone in this Thread. I’ll ask Folly to relay my apologies to Tom Lehrer.
ETA: Hoops will be first in line should apologies be in order.

Thanks and apologies for all.

I delved a little deeper into tango and continued to find rhythms that were not what I was looking for. However, I realized I was hearing a lot more diversity than my preconceived notions of tango would have had be believe I’d find. As the search continued, I started finding rhythms that matched what I had been looking for.

I searched YouTube for French Tango Accordion, found a variety of rhythms, eventually found what I was looking for.

Could you provide a link to the specific example? I’m curious to hear what it was.

I can’t speak for everyone, but I certainly don’t think there is any need for apologies. Put your video back up, start your own niche Bop, Bah, Bop youtube channel, and profit!

I haven’t found anything that exactly matches what was in my head, but I’ve found enough that are sufficiently similar that I know I’ve got the genre nailed down. I’ll either draw from a few not-exactly-but-close examples, or I’ll find something soon enough that will be a darn close match to what I had in my head.

So far, I’ve been skipping around these overly long YouTube postings that feature full compilation albums, the YouTube postings are an hour, two hours, per video. But it made for quick searching, just jumping forward and backward within the same video until I found something that caught my ear.

Here’s a selection that comes pretty close to what I had hoped to find.