Issue 67: Music and Maths: Counting

“Music is the pleasure the human soul experiences from counting without being aware that it is counting”

German mathematician and philosopher Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz (1646-1716) who co-discovered calculus

from the website http://www.math.utep.edu/Faculty/lesser/M&Mquotes.html

It took me years and years before I could actually count out loud while playing music.Even now, I can only count up to three or four when I am playing. So I have to count 6/8, or 9/8, as repeats of 1 2 3 1 2 3. In the end, I usually end up muttering “der der der der” and keep the pulse that way.

I am currently accompanying a violinist playing a Greek piece in 7/8 time. There is NO WAY I can count to 7! The rhythmic pattern is mostly 1 2 3 1 2 3 4, or 1 2 3 1 2 1 2, and this works reasonably well, except for the ends of phrases where we have a tendency to either chop a quaver or add a quaver to make the timing fit into a more “natural” rhythm or 6/8 or 8/8 (which is the same as 4/4, or “common time”). Tricky.

Once I was at a wedding where the organist clearly did NOT count the beats; every line of the hymn ended with a long note, which he chopped by at least half a beat, so that he always started the next line of the hymn just before we were ready. Maybe it was his dastardly ploy to stop the congregation from dragging.

As a performer, I think that it is my duty to count accurately as I play (except for changes in tempo for expressive purposes) and it is the the souls of the audience which are unaware that they are counting.

 

This entry was posted in The Jungle and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.