PDA

View Full Version : Conflicting Definitions example: Syncopation



SuzukHammer
04-29-2011, 08:23 PM
I read and hear different definitions of musical terms. I used to get hung up on determining the correct definition; only to learn it just stops the music process.

or does it?

I went to wikipedia to better define syncopation. It lists multiple definitions and the term is actually a broad term.

Reading this wiki definition gives me strumming and phrasing ideas.
syncopation (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Syncopation)

mm stan
04-29-2011, 08:43 PM
I may be wrong...but I thought it was a shifting pattern creating different rhythms..

Ken Middleton
04-29-2011, 10:25 PM
Notes are syncopated when they don't land on the main beats of the bar. A syncopated melody is one where many of the notes do not land on the main beats. Most pop tunes are syncopated. Here is an example of a syncopated rhythm on the uke (D=down strum, U=up strum)

1_______2_______3_______4
D_______D___U_______U______U

Here's a similar one that isn't syncopated.

1_______2_______3_______4
D_______D___U___D______D

Teek
04-29-2011, 11:28 PM
Ken, you ought to post a video or sound file on syncopation so we can hear it. Your explanation is clear. I can tap it out on my desk. I know what it is supposed to be. But I caught a whiff of smoke coming out of my ears.... thank you very much! :)

Ken Middleton
04-29-2011, 11:50 PM
Ken, you ought to post a video or sound file on syncopation so we can hear it. Your explanation is clear. I can tap it out on my desk. I know what it is supposed to be. But I caught a whiff of smoke coming out of my ears.... thank you very much! :)

Can't, I'm afraid. I'm taking my 3 year old grand-daughter out on a day trip to ride on a steam train.

SuzukHammer
04-30-2011, 02:28 AM
How about "Fermata" also known as the pig's eye or the bird's eye. They say its a "hold" and the musician determines the sustain on that hold. so..... Does that apply to the last note which the fermata is on and you have your choice of holding before the next note?

it would seem that fermata and syncopation when written on music sheet assumes its a solo?

SuzukHammer
04-30-2011, 02:32 AM
I actually bought a book on syncopation a while ago. It had hundreds of examples to attempt.

At the time, that was waaaaayyyy over my head because it seems that some of those patterns really need to be expanded out and attempted slowly for a beginner.

Perhaps that's a better question. What are best ways to practice syncopation? How does a beginner put rests in and/or accent an offbeat

JamieFromOntario
04-30-2011, 03:01 AM
You are correct, a fermata tells a performer they are to pause on the note on which the fermata is marked. I would say that the fermata does not affect the notes leading up to or after the actual marking. However, very frequently a fermata is preceded by some sort of slow down like a rit. or rall.

The fermata does not indicate that the music is for a solo performer; I have seen them frequently used in orchestral scores where dozens of musicians are playing together. However, in this case, it's the conductor who decides and communicates the length of the fermata.


For practicing syncopation, I would take a look at a few simple examples, try to tap the beat while saying the syncopated beat. So, for Ken's example, say the bottom line and tap the top.

MiaRosie
04-30-2011, 03:38 AM
If you think of a four beat bar as

1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and

The *ands* are the sycopated notes. We were taught to say 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & whilst clapping to each - and then to repeat but only clap on the &'s.

We were also taught it as a vocal sound rather than word which was, oddly, oom cha with the 'cha' being the syncopated beat. It doesn't matter how many notes are played, if they are off the main beat of 1 2 3 4 then they are syncopated ...

I'm having an issue with my foot beat at the moment - no matter how hard I try, my foot alters so that it is tapping with the syncopated beat - I am playing it correctly, off beat, but my foot has altered to be in time with my playing rather than continuing on the beat.

SuzukHammer
04-30-2011, 06:29 PM
I'm gonna try the oom cha thing and I'm sure my feet will get off beat too.

I checked out Jim Beloff's Camp Ukulele book and there is a fine example of a short song with 4 fermatas, Taps. Its the song right at the end.

Syncopation basically is a broad term with many possible permutations of it even from measure to measure. It seems also that any or all (?) of the components (drums, vocals, rhythm guitar, lead guitar) could all do syncopation but it would seem best that less is more to better accent the syncopation.

Well..... That's more than I expected to consider about syncopation.

Does "On beat" mean there is no syncopation or that the syncopation is on beat as well? Does "in pocket" mean on beat as well?

ska rhythm can be called ska syncopation

jungleturtle
04-30-2011, 06:50 PM
In my opinion, a lot of the problems with apparent music notation and theory inconsistencies stem from the fact that actual music, the stuff we make and hear through the manipulation of sound vibrations, came first. Notation and theory came afterward as a way to try to explain what has been done and to transmit the knowledge of it to those who haven't heard a particular piece or style. Don't get me wrong, theory and notation have their place, but I think they are too highly esteemed in some circles. Music is music and lines and dots are lines and dots.

SuzukHammer
04-30-2011, 07:50 PM
I can agree to that.

When I read music, it would appear that my fret finger(s) must independently be fretted and muted at the correct timing whereas when making music, allowing the notes to ring and sustain may be just as good as the notation and more fun because you don't have to worry about perfection.

It may also explain why we can't sound like B.B. King even though we follow the notation correctly. Playing style ultimately takes over.

music notation is nothing but a translation.

Uke Whisperer
05-01-2011, 02:52 AM
:confused:
It seems to me, each type of music has some syncopation, some more than others. It seems to give the particular type of music its character. A good example is Blues. Blues wouldn't "sound like Blues" without the syncopation (strums and picking). "Hawaiian" music has it's type of syncopation. Each type has specific accents too. Take for instance a calypso strum. It can (and is) used in many types of music, depending on how it is syncopated and accented. Ukulele Mike demonstrates that on several of his videos. Recent one of his videos I learned-by was his "Over the Rainbow-STRUM lesson). Other good examples on YouTube include George Formby strum lessons. George Formby used so many different syncopations and accents that when I've listened to someone playing one of his songs really slowly, I can't tell what the strum is or when it starts and stops. There is a song I like with absolutely no syncopations or accents (other than those in its original musical notation) and that is "The Star-Spangled Banner", when played by a military band or by someone who respects its original composition.

Plainsong
05-02-2011, 11:00 AM
Oho, I made an arrangement about a million years ago that had lots of syncopated coolness in the percussion... mostly.

Rhythm patterns and fermatas at the end of phrases don't have anything to do with whether or not a piece is a solo or not. If you have a nice established syncopated rhythm going, a really good driving ostinato, you could give the note a type of accent known as a tenuto, and the director might decide to really draw that note out, and it sounds expressive, and sometimes like you temporarily fell out of meter. Maybe you confused fermata with tenuto. A tenuto is ambiguous as well. You wouldn't always draw it out just because there's a dash above the note.

JamieFromOntario
05-02-2011, 12:04 PM
hmm...
I would normally say that tenuto markings should not change the tempo - but, as you say, they are rather ambiguous.

I would use the term rubato for super-epressivity which somewhat disregards tempo.

uke4ia
05-02-2011, 12:15 PM
I'm having an issue with my foot beat at the moment - no matter how hard I try, my foot alters so that it is tapping with the syncopated beat - I am playing it correctly, off beat, but my foot has altered to be in time with my playing rather than continuing on the beat.

If you have a metronome, this would be a good thing to use it for. If you don't, there's free software around that can do the same thing. For example, Audacity software. I got it free with one of those turntables for converting LPs to digital, and it's available as shareware online. On the "Generate" menu of Audacity, you can make a click track, which is basically just making it click like a metronome for as long as you want.

Plainsong
05-02-2011, 02:40 PM
hmm...
I would normally say that tenuto markings should not change the tempo - but, as you say, they are rather ambiguous.

I would use the term rubato for super-epressivity which somewhat disregards tempo.

I agree, but there have been a couple of times when a director has said "Let's try this" at a tenuto mark, and it worked really really well. I just wanted to use that as an example of using mundane accents of a normal note to change things up in a marked or even drastic way.

Both cases were a driving ostinato. That could be why it worked, it was an expressive change.

Nickie
05-02-2011, 05:25 PM
Ken, you ought to post a video or sound file on syncopation so we can hear it. Your explanation is clear. I can tap it out on my desk. I know what it is supposed to be. But I caught a whiff of smoke coming out of my ears.... thank you very much! :)

Teek, just make sure that whatever your ears are smokin' is legal. If it's not, just make sure it's of the highest quality... personally, I've never smoked an ear....