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This entire song can be "felt" or "heard" in 3. I wrote the
9/8 (except for one passage*) to avoid a sloppy/confusing barrage of
tuplets. Much of the song also does emphasize an unenven 9/8
organization as well (such as 2+2+2+3). In any case, "The 3" is the
lifeblood of the song, even though those beats are rarely stated.
Practicing this song to a metronome set in 3 was the only way that I
could precisely transition between all of the sections (even though
different metronome settings would have been more useful on particular
*I explain this exception below.
This bass theme is the foundation of this piece: 2+2+2+3. Counting in
"The 3", this means a triplet over the first 2 beats and then the last
The right hand enters with a rhythm in 5/8 against the 9/8 in the left
hand. They meet again after 9 cycles of the right/5 cycles of the
left. This is an example of polyrhythm by displacement (or phasing).
The right hand stops cycling through the 5 and enters a rut (on the 2nd
iteration of 9). The left hand juggles around the position of the lone
group of 3 beats in the original 2+2+2+3.
The right hands begins resumes its cycles of 5/8 as the left hand continues juggling.
Both hands finally break free of their harmonic and rhythmic stasis as
the left hand plays an even 4 beats against "The 3", which is omnipresent. The
right hand teases "The 3", but only explicitly states it in mm.24.
I wish I could remember what inspired me to write this madness. I blame
possession by Zuul. The theme in this section appears twice - the next time at
mm.95. I originally wrote it out in 9/8 (as it is written the second
time), but changed to (12+3+12)/8 because it was easier for me to
visualize and think about. To avoid getting unnecessarily bogged down
in number and the specifics/shortcomings of notation, I will first
describe the rhythmic relationships between the lines.
The lowest note in the left hand preserves "The 3".
The higher note in the left hand places 3 beats over every 2 below.
This alone creates generates some interesting complexity in that it
takes 2 groups of "The 3" before it repeats. Another way of thinking of
the higher part is as 2 groups of the 9/8 from before that connect in the middle to make 18/8:
To add to this mind-twister, the bass line moves to different pitches
after every 4 of "The 3" beats. So even though the rhythm resolves
after 2 groups of "The 3", the pitch doesn't allow resolution until 4
groups of "The 3".
If you're still with me, read on (not to be bossy). If not, do what you
will. There's only one more layer left to discuss. The right hand part
is related to the top of the left hand part, meaning playing off of the
3 over 2 (of "The 3"). The right hand concentrates on every 9 of these
beats (the 9 even beats of the 18/8 described above). It breaks these
beats down into 4+1+4 (preserving the pattern of the shared beat in
each pair of 9/8 bars). Over each group of 4, the right hand plays in
the grid of 3 or 6 beats to that 4.
***The choice of 12/8, 3/8, 12/8***
Necessity (not pretension) spurred me to pick this metric scheme. In
the original 9/8, the right hand part in this section requires half
note and quarter note triplets. While practicing it written this way, I
had difficulty knowing if my right hand part correctly locked in with
the two rhythms in the left hand. Picking this new meter allowed me to
approach the rhythm both by "counting" as well as by "feeling." This
choice made my life easier, but that isn't to say it will make yours. Here is the section written in 9/8.
Now, this all might seem like a steamy pile of BS, but the music was
intelligible to my ear when I heard the computer obediently play it
back to me. Initially, I thought that the computer was as far as it
would go. Then I tried to play it, breaking it down and practicing
various aspects of one rhythm against another. After my breakthrough of correctly executing 3 over 4 of 3 over 2, I happily
realized that I would conquer this passage with some perseverance.
Reenter the world of (relative) rhythmic and harmonic stability: 3 against 2.
I toy around with the bass line not being contained in "The 3". It follows 4 + 5 of "The 3" twice.
The first theme with the 5/8 over 9/8. I embellished the original bass line with the addition of an eighth note at the end.
The 5/8 figure in the
right hand is now augmented by a 9/8 appended to it. This makes for
14/8 juxtaposed with the left hand's 9/8 figure. This creates a phasing
pattern where each group of 5/8 displaces the two hands and each group
of 9/8 preserves that displacement. All the while, the hands go in and
out of rhythmic consonance. It takes 14 bars of the 9/8 for the parts
The left hand continues playing the original bass theme in (2+2+2+3)/8.
We can count this as 4 and a half beats. The right hand plays 4 beats
against the first 3 of those beats and 2 against the last 1 and a half.
Thinking in terms of the "The 3" of the song, the right hand simply
plays "1-&-2-&-3-&." The right hand continues playing in
this grid while generating further syncopation by skipping occasional
The sixteenth note line in the right hand is 3 quarter notes long, so
it takes two measures of the bass line before they rejoin. The right
hand then plays a new line with the same rhythmic correspondence. Now
both hands play the sixteenth note counterpoint in rhythmic unison.
The demonic right hand line from mm.31 returns. The left hand continues
to machine gun fire sixteenth notes, which somewhat obscures the
polyrhythms. The sixteenth notes follow the division of 9/8 in pairs of
measures as (2+2+2+2+1)/8 and (1+2+2+2+2)/8. I approached playing the
rhythm in this section by approximation more so than other section in
the piece. In practicing, I made sure to keep the sixteenth notes
steady against the metronome and then worked at getting the right hand
triplets between (or on) the correct sixteenth notes.
Personally, the speed at which I can play the left hand passage here
determines how fast I can play the entire song (at the moment,
significantly slower than the marked tempo).
The left hand sixteenths continue with emphasis shifted to 2 groups of 9. The right hand also emphasizes these 2 beats.
The original 9/8 with sixteenth note offsets between the hands coming and going.
If any section of this piece is guilty of being born out of emotionless
mathematics more than others, this one certainly is. One
rationalization I can offer for its existence is that it serves the
piece aesthetically in terms of its deconstruction. The most incessant
theme of the piece (the bass line) gets stretched out elastically as
the right hand plays a rambling line through every permutation.
The left hand begins with the bass line playing all 9 beats for two
measures. A measure of 2+2+2+2+1 follows this. After this point the
bass line settles into a distorted form of the original with 3+3+3+3+1.
As this line is 13 beats long, it takes 13 measures of the 9/8 for it
to complete one cycle (which it does before moving on).
The right hand plays against the 2+2+2+3 subdivision of the bass line.
The line places 3 beats over each of the 2 and 4 beats over the last
group of 3. This structure continues independent of the left hand's
The entire section lasts for 16 bars of the 9/8. The line in the right
hand is 4 bars long with each bar being a distinct unit. If those units
are labeled "a, b, c, d", then the following permutation takes us
through 4 cycles: [a-b, b-d, c-a, d-c], [abcd] becomes [cadb] becomes
[dcba] becomes [bdac]. It would return to [abcd] in the following
iteration if I allowed this nonsense to continue.
The bass line stretches once more into 4+4+4+4+2 (18). The right hand strictly plays on every 4 beats.
Some fanfare in rhythmic unison. Although not difficult to execute
tapping along to 9/8 time, this passage presents some difficulty
against "The 3" of the metronome. I learned this passage by first
practicing it against the 18/8 that isn't stated (2+2+2+2+1<>1+2+2+2+2). Once I felt this syncopation ingrained, I worked on tapping my foot to this 18/8 against the metronome's 3.
Return of the 9/8 with 16 note offset between the hands.
Here's "The 3".
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