Cry of Achilles - Polyrhythm, yay or nay ?

Is this a polyrhythm

  • Yes

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • No

    Votes: 2 100.0%
  • What's a polyrhythm ?

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Is there bacon ?

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters
    2

The Captain

Member
Messages
12,596
Not wanting to be argumentative or anything, but I've been wood-shedding this song for a few weeks, and I am strongly inclined to think of this as a polyrhythm. It's in 4/4, but played in clusters of three triplet notes. If I don't play it like that, it does not sound right. It's a bit unusual in that the triplets are not a classic gallop or reverse gallop, but rather evenly spaced, but still has a "3" feel.
Sorry for the blurry pic. It's the best I could get for some reason. There is no tempo marked on the sheet, but it's pretty fast.
What do the Illuminati have to say ?




 
Last edited:

Ed DeGenaro

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
22,965
They say that you need to Google poly rhythm.
Triplets is the division of the beat. Alternatively it can be notated as 12/8 neither is a poly rhythm. Which would be one instrument playing 3/4 while another plays 4/4.
 

The Captain

Member
Messages
12,596
Well, that was interesting.
The lack of a time signature was not helping.
So, is it more of a cross-rhythm ?
 

Ed DeGenaro

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
22,965
I'm not sure what you mean by cross rhythm. But as a "rule" when theere's no time sig in Western music it likely is gonna be 4/4.
Now if you looking at it, you see 4 groups of 3 triplets you KNOW it'll be 4/4.
I finally listened to the official video instead of on the phone :) and yes if you listen to the drums it's obvious its 4/4.
 

JonR

Member
Messages
15,007
The guitar intro (up to around 0:27 anyway) does sound like 3/4, not 4/4. That's because the notes on 5th and 4th strings form pairs of triplets in themselves.
Code:
------------------|------
------------------|------
------------------|------
----2--2-----2--2-|----------
-0--------0-------|--------
------------------|------
1  2  3  1  2  3
IOW, the 12/8 sounds like it's divided 6 x 2 (3/4 + 3/4), not 4 x 3.
Then at 0:27 the guitar starts marking out the 4/4 (12/8, 4 groups of triplets) more clearly, which is confirmed when the drums come in. That 6/4 cross rhythm is then obscured.

A cross-rhythm is not quite the same thing as a polyrhythm (as I understand it). The kind of thing that's happening in Cry of Achilles is the same thing (in simplere form) that you get in African 12/8, where there is a mix of accents, some implying 4 beats in the bar (4x3) some implying 3 or 6.
Afro-Cuban 6/8 is similar. Technically (AFAIK) these are "cross-rhythms" not "polyrhythms". The latter implies two different metres overlaid, while this one is about different accents within the same metre.
 
Last edited:

stevel

Member
Messages
14,659
Yes, officially, just Cross Rhythm, though Polyrhythm is in the process of being "re-defined" wrongly, in much the same way "legato" is (or unfortunately, already has been).

JonR is right - it's not playing triplets in 4/4/ that makes this Cross Rhythm. That's just a simple division (and it could have been 12/8 by the way).

It's actually the *groups of TWO* created by a bass note and then higher note, in alternation, within a group of 3, which produces the bass line JonR tabbed out above.

This makes it sound like quarter note triplets in 4/4 or what we call a "hemiola", which is a set of 3 notes (or accents) in the time that 2 would ordinarily appear in the given meter.

"Cross" sort of means, against the meter, whereas "Poly" implies (or should be taken to imply) that we're hearing two different, independent rhythms simultaneously - not necessarily indicating different meters (but often do).

Hemiola figures traditionally appear in 3/4 where you have a half note (2 beats) followed by a quarter tied across the bar to another quarter (also 2 beats) followed by another half (2 beats).

So over 2 MEASURES, you get 3 notes of 2 beats each in music that would have ordinarily had 6 notes of 1 beat each over the course of that two measures.

Here, the same thing is occurring at the next division down - 6 notes per 2 beats (half the measure) is the "normal" amount, with the accents on the 1st, 3rd, and 5th of the 6 notes forming "a group of 3 notes in the time of 2 beats, with those three notes being 2 units each".

Again, that essentially forms a quarter note triplet rhythm.

Now, if you had one part playing standard 8ths notes, and the other part playing triplets, then you'd have Polyrhythm.

One of my favorite simple examples is in The Doors' "Love Me Two Times" where there's this quarter note triple rhythm in everything except the kick drum, which continues in four. Unless you listen for the bass drum you'll miss it, but once you hear it you can really hear that there are two streams happening - and that's Polyrhythm.

Obviously, there are far more complex examples out there.
 

The Captain

Member
Messages
12,596
I'm not sure what you mean by cross rhythm. But as a "rule" when theere's no time sig in Western music it likely is gonna be 4/4.
Now if you looking at it, you see 4 groups of 3 triplets you KNOW it'll be 4/4.
I finally listened to the official video instead of on the phone :) and yes if you listen to the drums it's obvious its 4/4.
Thanks for the discussion guys. I googled "polyrhythm" as Ed suggested and came up with "cross-rhythm", which stevel has expanded on. That's basically what I read on wiki. I was thinking it matched the definition of a hemiola.
It's interesting when I play it, as a subtle shift on accenting the finger style intro process a slightly different feel. I can play it with a slightly more 3 feel, but Myles demonstrates being played a little more straight, with emphasis on the end of the phrase, where the B string is played open, then fretted in the various positions.
I hadn't considered the bass line, but it is definitely in 4/4. I like the contrast between the laziness of the bass line vs the intensity of the melodic elements.

I'm quite immersed in the complexity of the rhythmic elements of this song.
 
Last edited:

JonR

Member
Messages
15,007
This - hearing a rhythm in one of two ways - reminds me of Scarborough Fair, as played by Martin Carthy and by Paul Simon (who took Carthy's arrangement for his own version).
Simon and Garfunkel's version is clearly in 3/4. But when you listen to Carthy's, the guitar sounds like 6/8 - but the vocal phrasing fits 3/4 better (if you can ignore the guitar). It's because he's emphasising the thumb strokes in his pattern, which are on the 1st and 4th 8th notes in the bar:
Code:
CARTHY
|6/8?             |3/4?
|------0----------|------0----------|
|---------------3-|---------------3-|
|------------0----|------------0----|
|---------4-------|---------4-------|
|0----------------|0----------------|
|-----------------|-----------------|
1  .  .  2  .  .  1  .  2  .  3  .
|__|__|  |__|__|  |__|  |__|  |__|
.
SIMON
|3/4
|---0-------------|
|------------3----|
|------0--------0-|
|---------4-------|
|0----------------|
|-----------------|
1  .  2  .  3  .
|__|  |__|  |__|
Paul Simon's right hand pattern is a little different, but he still puts that second bass note (thumb) on the 4th 8th note. In the intro, you can indeed hear it as 6/8, but he clearly intends it as 3/4, and makes that clear later.
(BTW, Carthy has capo on 4, Simon on 5.)
 

The Captain

Member
Messages
12,596
@dsimon, I am letting the music speak. I'm just trying to pay very close attention to what it is saying. I'm enjoying the learning experience too, getting some things right, after Ed corrected my sloppy use of "polyrhythm". It's not a ore to me, or a buzzkill. I had no music teaching as a child, and when I got guitar lessons as a teenager, I was taught no theory. I'm now trying to plug the gaps in my knowledge and all this helps.

When I play this piece, I'm not just trying to get the notes out. I'm really trying to explore all the depths of it, feeling the string timbre and getting it perfect, getting the whole guitar to hum and sing and resonate, getting the right articulation on all the notes. I don't have a nylon string guitar, but I'm playing the intro on acoustic, and when I get a nice acoustic piece working well, it's a really immersive experience of for me.

I think of many things as having a pulse. So much of what we do and feel is based in hearing our own heartbeat. We grow in the womb listening to our mothers heartbeat, and it is integral to our psyche. Some things have a slow pulse, like a passing year, which beats to the pulse of the seasons.
The example JonR put up, Scarborough Fair, beats to a pulse too, with the bass notes setting the tempo.
Similarly, Cry of Achilles, when played up to speed, has a pulse. When I'm practising it a little slower, I can give it different feels, but at speed, I'm now thinking of it as being played in sextuplets. The bass note begins each beat of the heart, then the 4th and 6th notes are like the heart sounds, with that rise in pitch as the last note is fretted, sounding a bit like the lub-dup.

Thanks for the links on polyrhythms too. I'm more than a bit fascinated by this stuff.
Edit - I was typing while you put your last post up. You are clearly well versed on this topic, and I am enjoying your help.
 

The Captain

Member
Messages
12,596
right...that could be the 2 v 3 (or 4 v 6) "flip" that Magadini talks about. i.e. hearing it as a 4 beat or hearing it as 6 beat. (or any multiples of 2 v 3).

The other thing you could be talking about is a "waltz" 3 feel vs "straight 6" feel.
Straight 6 is a little different than waltz, and its a good feel to get when dealing with this type of cross rhythm.
Waltz is more of a "european" thing.


Like I mentioned, those issues come up in Bembé. IMO they aren't thinking waltz in those type of cross rhythms.
I'm finding that the feel is somewhat dependent on the tempo too. At a slower tempo, the feel can be more waltz or straight six, as you say, but as the tempo increases, it becomes more straight 6, as I tried to describe in my long post above.
 

The Captain

Member
Messages
12,596
yes...its hard to do a waltz at a fast tempo!
some guys can't even do it slowly - just observe any "wedding special" lesson at the local dance studio.
Yeah, 4/4 is so punched in.
I often have a chuckle when I hear Ed Vedder count in Small Town, which is pretty much the only song they do in 3/4.
He counts in 1, 2, 3, 4, 2, 3. HE obviously does it to get everyone's head into the 3/4 space, but still counts 1234. I wonder if he realises that ? I'm a fan of Ed, BTW.
 
Messages
6,901
Just to interject briefly, I heard one of my very favorite beats yesterday, that sort of relates to superimposed triplets. Peter Gabriel recorded two sets of drummers, one playing triple time and the other in straight fours, then layered them together. A cool texture.

Drums come in around 1:30.


PS: I realize there's no dichotomy there between the feel of twos and threes. Just love the beat, that's all.


.
 
Last edited:

The Captain

Member
Messages
12,596
Another aspect of it maybe can explain your observation on "tempo dependence"
In waltz feel there is a "lilt" and/or accent points. For example the first beat will have some emphasis on it.
In a straight feel that emphasis is not there.
wrt tempo and having the feel change, its similar to how "swing" 8ths become straight as the tempo increases.

I didn't see that mentioned on the wikipedia page on Hemiola (waltz v straight).
They seem to just lump clave in with waltz as one big 3 v 2 subject.
I'll go back and read more on hemiola. I started on the "polyrhythm" page, and didn't follow any links. I admit, reading this stuff is new to me, and comprehension is a bit slow at times.
As tempo increases, the spaces between obviously diminish, so there is less room for depression there. It's true that when I play CoA little slower, I'm getting the lilt on the first note, so give it that waltz feel. It sounds quite different when Myles plays it in isolation on the tutorial DVD too, than in the recorded version. There is obviously less going on, and more articulation can be heard.

Truth be told, I'm busting to get some formal music lessons. I'm going to do that on piano. My older brother had a natural ear, and got all the attention and lessons as we were growing.
 




Trending Topics

Top