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"Chop-a-beats and Meter Mayhem Part 1"

  Hey Everybody, Welcome to Tonal Trends Spotter Smarts Blog, today’s video is called Chop-a-beats and Meter Mayhem Part 1,

  And we’re gonna take a look at 6 songs that have some unconventional beats happening in’m.

  Uh, OK, so I highly recommend that in addition to watching this video, you listen to these tracks supplementally. I’ll kinda do my best to hum’m or plunk’m out on my guitar or whatever, but in order to get a full appreciation for all these cool rhythmic tricks about to happen, you really should go listen to them in their proper setting! Maybe pause the video if you need to, or use the red minute markings to zero in on them later.


1-Mission impossible Theme (5/4)


-Classic 5 beat pattern.

-NOT like the new one, which went back to 4/4.

Now, when you’re dealing with these crazy unconventional Meters, what people like to do, is to break them up into smaller components so they’re easier to understand:

-For this example, there’s two ways you can do this, or ways to think of it-

-Either 3+2.

-Or you can take that 3, and make it a 6/8, then a 2/4.

-If you were gonna break convention and piss off the authorities, you could even count it in kind of a 4/4 with extended 1st and 2nd beats.

-I’m not gonna tell you to do it like that, but I will tell you a story: I had this friend once in high school, he was a bass player, and he came up with this riff he was so proud of cause he thought it was in an odd meter, but he counted it like "123456 Se-ven."

-It was a cool enough riff, so at the end of the day, it made sense to him, what’s the big deal right?


2-Hey Ya by OUTCAST


—There's a chop-two beats in the fourth measure for a total of 22 beats, 6 bars.

-You can even think of it as chopping 2 measures from in there somewhere, if you're used to 8 bar loops, which is more normal than 6 bars!

-that’s pretty much it for that, but make sure to check out the Hey Ya sync video in Spotter Syncs.


3- Black hole sun BY SOUNDGARDEN


-The Solo section is 6 bars of 9/4, or 12 bars of 9/8.

-Oh, If you cross reference this with the song’s Music Video, watch out, that video gives me the hibbly-jibblies. Freaks me out.

-Alright, so yeah, You can count it either in 9/8 or 9/4, depending on if your main source of intellectual attachment is to the riff itself, or to the drum-beat, which has an accent placed on the 10th eight note, a beat that totally justifies counting the pattern in 9/8 time.

-It’s cool that you can think of it in both ways. But I prefer 9/4, mostly because the song ends with just one repetition of the riff and it’s just neater to me when you think of it in one rhythmic unit.

-Also I like 9/4 cause you don’t really have a reason to stop nodding your head in quarter note beats until the middle of the phrase anyway,

-Like check it out…until that odd accent… know what I mean?

-BUT if you need some ammo for arguing why you think it’s in 9/8, notice that the last note of the riff lasts the whole 9/8 bar. Notes that last a whole measure are also aesthetically pleasing.

-Incidentally, this doesn’t really have anything to do with chop-a-beats or meter mayhem, but also notice that in this section, the guitar solo is happening over a guitar riff—that don’t happen a lot, USSUALLY it’s rhythm guitar and chords and stuff

-but, I mean--you can do that: Seriously!!! You won’t even get a ticket, I promise. try it!


4- Ring of Fire by JOHNNY CASH


-One of the first places I think of when people are like “what’s a chop-a-beat” is the trumpet line from this song.

-What you got is a country beat, 4/4 time, and every time the trumpets play their little riff, they chop-a-beat in the middle, down to three beats! So that’s a pretty cool way to start.

[email protected]:49, in the chorus they sneak in a 2/4 Measure! Like this "burns burns burns" [beat] "that ring of.” See? They burned 2 beats out of that measure is what they did!!! Burn’m chop’m whatever right?

[email protected]:30, they’re not done with the chop innovations! What they do now instead of chopin’ beats is: They chop the first note out of the trumpet riff!!!! That’s Chop-a-Note!!!

[email protected]:42 Last, they spent all this time chopping beats, so now they don’t chop the beat, and keep it 4/4! SNEAKY!!!!


5-Everybody breaks a glass, by LIGHTS


(16/8 - 6+3+2+5)


-Just like a month ago, one of my students showed this youtube to me of this girl playing guitar---I was first like, OK, young pop star with a guitar, whatever. Probably just like three or four chords. And yup, three chords, but then I started trying to get a handle of the rhythm…and I’ll tell ya I just felt like one of those old fuddy-duddy pirates in Hook, like Peter pan pirates, trying to fight off Tinkerbell, like, you know--"Get away you little pixie devil!"

Seriously though check out how she organizes the guitar part [example]

-Now it has to be noted that in the regular electronic version it’s just 4/4. AND…you can count the acoustic Version in 4/4 but it just doesn’t feel right, you have to really work at it to do it, which is your first indicator that you probably shouldn’t! Right?

-LAST, As a tonal trend spotter, I just love this example though, cause normally when you think of math-rock, and like, complex rhythmic patterns, you think of like, dudes in TOOL t-shirts with Ibanezes cranked up to 11 who are making it a point that they’re playing math rock, like “I am playing math rock I am playing math math math rock” jn jn jn. But, here you got something that goes against the trend, with a pop star in university of Ohio t shirt playing a Taylor cross legged on a couch, and you don’t even notice the complex pattern until you try and count it!


6-Strawberry fields Forever BY THE BEATLES

ALRIGHT, save the best for last, all kinds of crazy stuff here!

[email protected] 0:09, they chop 2, and the fourth measure is a 2/4!

[email protected] 0:26, the VERSE has a 2/4 during “Nothing to get.”

[email protected] 0:30 FOUR SECONDS later, the Title Tag is a 6/8 and a 4/4!

[email protected] 1:19 the NEXT TIME that happens, The Title tag has an extra 4/4 after it, to make room for a fun Mixolydian scale thing-riff played on a swarmandel, which is an Indian version of the zither.

[email protected] 2:46 ALL KINDS OF CRAZY VARIATIONS here--Title tag is played 3xs, 6/8, 4/4, 6/8, ¾, 6/8, 3/4, 4/4, 1/4?!?!

- The 1/4 is just this string "wooOOoo" into the outro.

-And to further confuse the beat, the first 4/4 of the outro after the "wooOOoo,"

is A quarter-note followed by a dotted half!

[email protected] 3:34, if you can figure out what that time is, I’ll come to your house and give you five dollars. I’m not messing with that.