Tips & Tricks of the Trade // Music Fundamentals - Time Signatures - Syncopation



Time Signatures - Syncopation
- 1 September 2016

Syncopation

7 over 8 time signature

It would be utterly naive to even claim that we have discussed and heard all the time signatures available in music. Artists keep experimenting with different ways to express themselves and challenge the norm. I have even heard some music composed to the Fibonacci adhering time signatures. So it would move from 1/1, 2/4, 3/4, 5/8, 8/4, then reverse the order. Really cool stuff, yet I will be the first to admit that not everything I’ve heard has been equally aurally thrilling as it is technically fascinating.

Yet one trick that musicians use frequently to deliver clever rhythmic patterns without overly breaking the barriers is a technique called Syncopation. This is the thing that most Drummer solos (yeah that troubled lad/gal that sits behind rubble in most bands) are made of (:

This is when you place an emphatic beat where it is least expected in a Bar.
For instance, in a typical 4/4 time signature, you tend to expect the emphasis to be on the 1 beat. Yet if you placed it on any other beat (especially the even beats) in the Bar it would sound a bit odd wouldn’t you agree? Or even consider placing it a Quaver before the 1 beat (making it an off beat sound) would equally sound ‘misplaced’. That is exactly what Syncopation is all about.
In simple terms, it is any disturbance to the natural flow of rhythm (:

While you have the flowing 3/4 pattern:

Clap(1) Clap(2) Clap(3)
Clap(1) Clap(2) Clap(3)
Clap(1) Clap(2) Clap(3)


You could break up a little into:

Clap(1) Clap(2) Clap(3)
Clap(1) Clap(2) Clap(3)
Clap(1) Clap(2) Clap(3)


There you go.. You can have very simple patterns made a little bit more interesting by employing syncopated rhythms (:
As with all things we have discussed so far, these concepts can all get very involved, yet with the foundational knowledge you now have, you have the necessary tools to experiment and gain more knowledge.

Remember to use the theory to spice up your music (which does not necessarily mean complicate it).
Before we get into staff notation in detail, I would like to quickly demonstrate how you can use basic Mathematics to achieve great results in your compositions or arrangements.

- written by MegaMidas
Musician at Africappella

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