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Lesson 59

Syncopation

Syncopation, as the text says, is the placing of an accent on a beat that is normally not accented. Usually, this is done by tying over a note from a weak beat to a strong beat. People who are experienced with styles like Jazz, Swing and Funk will tell you that this alteration of accents is the essence of their style. With this lesson, we get our first peek at how this works.

BASIC RHYTHM DEMOS

Let's start out by getting a feel for some of the basic syncopated rhythms. Example 848 will play some eighth-quarter-eighth patterns for you. There will be four clicks to give you the tempo. Please tap your foot along with the example. Example 84448 extends this pattern further. Any of you band folks every play "Elsa's Procession" by Wagner? If so, you've played this pattern tied across measure after measure. Again, remember to tap your foot. You should always keep time to the music so that you feel it physically.

SONG EXAMPLES

The first song example is Cabaret, from the Broadway musical of the same name. It illustrates one of the most common syncopated figures, which we see on Example 1, measures 3 and 4 in Lesson 59's shaded area. The second song example is String of Pearls, which was a hit for the Glenn Miller big band back in the 1940's. This is also a good one to try and count, although this file does not have good swing feel.

A couple of notes on the Student Assignment for Lesson 59: There are three examples given for you to write in the rhythms. The top one is "Goodnight Ladies," the second is a minuet by Boccherini, and the bottom one is an old spiritual called "Joshua Fought the Battle of Jericho."

 

SOMETHING FOR YOUR FREE TIME

If you enjoy rock-and-roll, you might want to rent a hilarious movie called "This Is Spinal Tap." This is a first-class parody of a heavy metal band, starring some well-known comic actors. These guys are also musicians and--unlike the Monkees or the Partridge Family--actually do their own playing. The movie was such a cult hit that Spinal Tap has reunited several times, including a New Years Eve bash, and an appearance on The Simpsons. You can hear them play the Boccherini Minuet as a coda on their song "Heavy Duty Rock and Roll."

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