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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Syncopation?


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pstroud1 - Posted - 10/02/2007:  11:54:09


Is there anywhere on the hangout here I can play and hear the differences in maybe types of syncopation. I think I understand what it is but would like to hear very distinct versions of it.
I understand it is it something that's hard to describe. I've been told by a well known player that it is emphasizing with a different TIM finger each time around. I may have understood that wrong. But it seems very hard to deliberately do.
Would sure appreciate some help with this.
Thanks

Paul

seanray - Posted - 10/02/2007:  12:06:43


Syncopation is a fancy word that gets used and sometimes abused much like polyrythymic does in the drum world.
Sounds to me like you may be over thinking what it is. If you want to hear a fine example of syncopation check out this Clarence White video:
http://youtube.com/watch?v=CMQuuZNvwLU
That about says it all.

Or this will help put it into words:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Syncopation


http://www.seanray.com


Edited by - seanray on 10/02/2007 12:08:26

banjomon - Posted - 10/02/2007:  12:50:34


Syncopation is just another fancy term for timing and dynamics within the music. Without it, music would be just a long blurb of notes and rests.....and would be totally boring to play.

GerhardP - Posted - 10/02/2007:  12:58:33


On the TIM roll you get syncopation if you always emphasize the same finger! Since the roll repeats after three notes and the beat repeats every four notes (or two if you include the mandolin chop in bluegrass) any finger will sometimes fall on the beat and sometimes in between beats. In the latter case if you emphasize that same finger it will produce a syncopated note.

If you do not want emphasized, syncopated notes you'll always have to emphasize the finger falling on a beat, which will be a different finger every time the TIM pattern repeats.

Gerhard


"Most bullet holes in banjos are a result of poor aim"
(Fretless Josh Saw in BNL July '02)

GerhardP - Posted - 10/02/2007:  13:03:32


By the way, here is a syncopated lick you may have used before:

___0_____0______0______
___________________|_____
_0_____2-3__0______|_0__
_______________2___|_____
_____0_____________|_____

The 2nd fret/3rd string note is usually emphasized and is no on the beat.

Another way to produce syncopation would be to emphasize the last (=8th) note of a forward/reverse roll, usually the middle finger on the 1st string, try it out, rip that 1st string while keeping the roll and tempo going.

Gerhard


"Most bullet holes in banjos are a result of poor aim"
(Fretless Josh Saw in BNL July '02)

ejimb0 - Posted - 10/02/2007:  14:27:42


When I think of syncopation.. my first thoughts are Earl's version of "home sweet home" especially the second verse with the big slide up the neck.
It seems to me that frailing is all syncopation.
jimbo

Hi Mom!

DaveInCA - Posted - 10/02/2007:  16:09:16


I dunno, Gerhard....in the tag lick it seems to me that on the 3rd string we usually understate the 2 (it's just the start point of the hammer or slide) and then emphasize the 3 and the open 1st string, and these simultaneous notes are on the downbeat.

On the other hand, your first description of emphasizing the same finger in a repeated 3-note roll is a mighty fine way to syncopate and to generate drive.

Dave


Edited by - DaveInCA on 10/02/2007 16:17:58

schaumannk - Posted - 10/02/2007:  16:27:25


I don't think I have heard syncopation adequately described on this thread yet. I do not believe that it is emphasizing some notes over others by picking harder. If that is all you do and all notes in the roll still have same value (length) it is still not syncopated. What you are doing with syncopation is shorting some notes and lengthening others. When you are truly syncopating a song and you are looking how it is being played you might take a song such as Waltzing Matilda for example that if you were to play the tab would be a triplets (da da da/ da da da/ da) when you syncopate it becomes (daa, d, daa, d, daa, d, daa) It is hard to do well and requires really good timing and more finger speed than playing a song straight. I have just gotten to the point where I can sort of do it competently on some songs if I don't take them too fast. Kate

Rich Weill - Posted - 10/02/2007:  16:41:46


I seem to recall a similar discussion just a few weeks ago, and there was some confusion then -- and perhaps again now -- about "syncopation" versus "bounce." I wasn't aware of a difference, but others seemed to think there was one.

I was taught by a music professor (in my pre-banjo days), that the key to ragtime was "tied sixteenth notes." That seems akin to what Kate is describing. Roger Sprung calls it "pairing," because the 2nd and 3rd beats of an 8-beat roll are paired (i.e., played closer together), as are the 4th and 5th, 6th and 7th, and the 8th with the 1st beat of the following roll.

But, as I said, others have said that this is "bounce," not syncopation.

Jim Yates - Posted - 10/02/2007:  16:51:19


I've always thought of syncopation as placing the emphasis where it's not expected,; quite often on the off beat. Of course if you place it on every off beat, as in a mandolin chop, then it's no longer unexpected, therefore no longer qualifies as syncopation. Earl's chromatic octave run up the neck in Foggy Mountain Special has a lot of syncopation in it.

sjyokel - Posted - 10/02/2007:  17:16:57


quote:
I do not believe that it is emphasizing some notes over others by picking harder.


Strictly speaking, it is. "Syncopation" describes the dynamics of the rhythm (which beats in a measure get emphasis), not the duration of the notes.

I think this issue tends to be confusing because bluegrass is often played with a "swing rhythm" [the technical term] or "bounce" [not so technical] which has a standardized or conventional pattern of rhythm and dynamics. And there's not much practical value in making a clear distinction between the two once you can recognize that convention.

IMHO, unless you're branching out into experimental jazz banjo, there's not much use in worrying about syncopation. Just put on some Glenn Miller CDs until that rhythm is stuck in your head. Then if you can reproduce that rhythm when you're playing a song on banjo, you've arrived.

tomt - Posted - 10/02/2007:  17:18:21


Take a bit of forward roll, played correctly within the song structure, TIMTIMTM|TIMTIMTM|TIMTIMTM|T etc.

Even without consciously accenting the thumb you will still hear DAHduhduhDAHduhduhDAHduhDAHduhduhDAHduhduhDAHduhDAH

Assuming you have a bass and rhythm guitar going as well your banjo will sound like it is barely under restraint, pushing the song along.

Erbus - Posted - 10/03/2007:  11:09:59


I was thinking about posting about this very topic. I'm currently working on a tab arrangement by Jack Baker for Cotton Fields. I was getting frustrated with the tab as it just didn't seem to fit the song. I then listened to it via Tabedit and realized the song needs to be "syncopated". Everything fits now using the DAHduhduhDAH thing.

Terry from the "Creek", just on the edge of the middle of nowhere.

pstroud1 - Posted - 10/03/2007:  11:22:27


Thanks very much for everyones take on this. I think I seem to understand it a little better now. Though it sounds much like what one does when they make their playing sound like their own. So I think there must be many different styles of syncopation. Maybe I'm just wanting to understand not something over my head as much as something I may not need. I just pick for myself and by ear. So once and if I get my pickin cleaned up I expect I will hear my own way of syncopation.
I listened to the tunes on youtube and if thats syncopation it just sounds like really good emphasis of the tune. They really sound great. The guitar work was unreal wow, I sure like that.
Again my thanks to everyone.

Paul

banjovy - Posted - 10/03/2007:  11:29:50


One basic sort of syncopation is emphasizing the weak beats(2 and 4)...... I'm just talking common time here, odd time signatures, etc are a different animal.


Edited by - banjovy on 10/03/2007 11:33:20

DaveInCA - Posted - 10/03/2007:  17:51:47


Hey---the Syncopated Looper IS syncopated! I had thought its bounce came only from accents, but it really is a dotted-eighth/16th note syncopation. Here's the proof from Audacity:



I think this is syncopation because the 1 and 4 notes are delayed and hence not happening where they are expected, which would be exactly midway between the downbeats (1 notes) and the off-beats (3 notes). This type of syncopation is probably do-able up to a moderate tempo, but as speed increases the effect gets more and more subtle (notes become too closely spaced to notice it) even if you can get your right hand to do it.

Download Syncopated Looper here (thanks again to Thor!): http://www.thorworx.com/banjo/loopers.htm and after unpacking it, run it in your *browser*, because it is a Flash file.

Dave


Edited by - DaveInCA on 10/03/2007 18:24:44

grinning_muppet - Posted - 10/03/2007:  22:04:23


i agree, the syncopated looper is infact,syncopated....i was on a thread on here where people were saying otherwise,...they are cornfused

GerhardP - Posted - 10/04/2007:  04:57:54


> I think this is syncopation

It is not. This is correctly described with the word 'swing', which in it's pure form is like triplets, with the first two notes tied into one. Syncopation has nothing to do with time values. The meaning of the word seems to change now, if enough people use it incorrectly (such as the title 'Syncopated Looper' the original meaning is lost. Such is life....

Gerhard



"Most bullet holes in banjos are a result of poor aim"
(Fretless Josh Saw in BNL July '02)

chazmataz - Posted - 10/04/2007:  09:18:15


gerhardp and tomt are right.

Syncopation is easiest heard with the fwd roll and a simple song like Go Tell Aunt Rhody. The vocal is straight, go, tell aunt rho-dy. music notation qtr note, 2 eighths, 2 qtr notes.

Janet Davis YCTYB uses this song to demonstrate the fwd roll. Because of the three grouping of the roll, the banjo melody matches the vocal melody for the first qtr note, and then the melody note for "tell" sounds slightly before the vocal, 1/16 note to be exact. That is syncopation.

You most often hear vocalists "stylize" a song by singing the notes either before or after what you might know as the standard melody line. That is syncopation.

The banjo swing or bounce that you hear is not really a dotted eighth - sixteenth note. You can prove this by recording yourself tapping 16th notes on something - a table, and when you play it back play your banjo on the 1st and 4th 16th note of each group of 4. You'll hear that it sounds way too abrupt/choppy.

My opinion is that it is not really the triplet either, but it is closest to the triplet. Do the same thing tapping triplets on the table and playing your banjo to the 1st and 3rd note of each group of three. That sounds more like it, but probably still a little too choppy for the smooth sound you like to hear on the banjo.

I call it a lazy triplet. Like I said, it is closest to the triplet, and to notate it musically that would be most correct. When you play it though, you'll feel it to be a bit more lazy. Just try it, you'll see what I mean.

I have a lot of years playing drums, so I know syncopation and swing. When you learn ride patterns on the cymbal, you learn swing, and you learn syncopation with the left hand. You also learn feel, which may mean playing the triplet swing pattern a little "lazier".

So there ya' go.

Charlie

Sullivan Festival Deluxe

banjomojo - Posted - 10/04/2007:  10:08:25


Is syncopation not something that happens naturally?

i mean the more you play, the more comfortable you become with your right hand in fact for a player that has played the banjo for years they would feel so comfortable with their right hand, roll patterns and be able to emphasize any notes they wish to with any finger.

I noticed this happens when you play a certain roll over and over and over in practice you tend to naturally emphasize certain notes in that roll, and once you can pick it at a medium speed you can actually hear the notes change into something else as you start to emphasize different notes or pick a little harder with the thumb instead of the ring finger.

So does that not mean that syncopation has a lot to do with the persons developed style of playing? and how comfortable they are playing certain tunes.

Banjophobic - Posted - 10/04/2007:  10:08:27


Paul

This is one of the many music concepts that must be felt,heard and practiced to understand. Explaining syncopation with theoretical terminology falls way short of expressing what it really is. Just listen to alot of syncopated music, like somethat was mentioned, and try to emulate the feel. You'll eventually get it , slap your head and say,"duhhhh"-

Jim Yates - Posted - 10/04/2007:  10:12:35


Chazmataz,
I agree with most of what you've said, but the term "lazy triplet" is most often used to describe quarter note triplets, where three notes are spread evenly over two beats as in the first three notes of April In Paris.

GerhardP - Posted - 10/04/2007:  10:22:43


> So does that not mean that syncopation has a lot to do with the persons developed
> style of playing? and how comfortable they are playing certain tunes.

Yep, the more relaxed you are and the more certain of where the beat is the easier it is to play syncopated notes without getting thrown off track.

Gerhard


"Most bullet holes in banjos are a result of poor aim"
(Fretless Josh Saw in BNL July '02)

banjomojo - Posted - 10/04/2007:  10:33:47


quote:
Originally posted by GerhardP

> So does that not mean that syncopation has a lot to do with the persons developed
> style of playing? and how comfortable they are playing certain tunes.

Yep, the more relaxed you are and the more certain of where the beat is the easier it is to play syncopated notes without getting thrown off track.

Gerhard


"Most bullet holes in banjos are a result of poor aim"
(Fretless Josh Saw in BNL July '02)




Thanks i get it completely - more to the point i already feel it i just cant express it because i am just learning - i cant play whats in my head or i cant play what i feel because i don't have enough experience yet and don't feel comfortable with my instrument.

So my limited understanding from reading everyones posts here is that once you are tuned in and one with the banjo syncopation is a naturally occurring event, trying to analyze and copy another players syncopation is like trying to copy the way they walk.



Edited by - banjomojo on 10/04/2007 10:35:16

chazmataz - Posted - 10/04/2007:  10:34:52


Jim - you are correct. I hadn't thought about quarter note triplets.

I couldn't think of another way to describe in words something that is felt when played. It was an attempt to define the difference between playing exactly, strictly in time with the note values, and slightly cheating on the note duration of one note to the next.

All in all, it is part of musicianship, and is developed over time with practice. If you listen specifically for it you will hear it. Some of us tend to approach things from an analytical way. I tend to learn things in a technical way first. Once I can reproduce the sound, it becomes more innate, and transforms into "feel" over time. I am only a novice on the banjo - may always be. - lol - I sure have a lot to learn myself.

I replied to the post in an attempt to help to understand this from the brain side. As far as learning it from the fingers side...well, we all just got to put in time behind the resonator.

As Bill Sullivan always said,

Your friend,

Charlie

Sullivan Festival Deluxe

DaveInCA - Posted - 10/04/2007:  11:05:28


>Syncopation has nothing to do with time values.

Gerhard, this is a somewhat perplexing pronouncement, as syncopation is certainly entirely about timing. But perhaps you are only referring to the time value of a note, in which case I'd somewhat agree. Anyway, here's my take on what I'd call "bounce-style" syncopation [noting that there are other types of syncopation such as results from a repeated 3-note roll and which I and others have described in words and with examples in recent threads on this topic], and I would be happy to learn why it is incorrect:

Syncopation is about notes happening at times other than when they are expected, "expected" meaning at the regular intervals of the down or up beat or at the midpoints between them. It is true that what I (and others) refer to as a dotted-eighth note may not in fact occur in terms of actual duration of the note (there may be a rest of some duration instead), but the point is that the *subsequent* note is delayed to some extent (not necessarily strictly by a 1/16 note's time) and hence does not sound where it would be expected, and this is what produces the appealing rhythmic effect. The actual temporal position of the note in relation to the downbeat/upbeat can obviously vary, and it does in "bouncy" playing, depending on the choice of the player. This is the main point: IMO, because the "bounce" notes are placed somewhere other than where they are expected in straight playing (in the case of the Looper, the 2 and 4 notes of a 4-note sequence are delayed--check the trace above--but would, if it were metronomically straight, occur at the exact midpoints between downbeat and upbeat), that it's correct to describe the Looper as syncopated.

Gerhard and/or Charlie--- if this is an incorrect analysis, please explain why. Thanks.

Dave

torpedo - Posted - 10/04/2007:  11:14:36


DaveinCa What is the trick to down load and play the looper and Earl o meter? I've been trying to get this for over a month now , on and off and can't get it to play.

Joe

GerhardP - Posted - 10/04/2007:  11:25:17


Dave, I know what you mean, but this is not syncopation. There is no such concept as "bounce-style" syncopation, that's my whole point, bounce or swing ARE NOT syncopation. The offbeat notes are not at an unexpected place because every other 16/th note is in the same place.

Now, if you moved a melody note from the downbeat 1 to lets say the "4 and" of the previous measure it would be syncopation, but not the subtle timing shifts changing the feel of the tune.

And looking at the wave diagram of the 'Syncopated Looper', looking at amplitudes there is clearly an emphasis on the beat and downbeat and much quieter notes in between, so it is not syncopated at all.

Gerhard


"Most bullet holes in banjos are a result of poor aim"
(Fretless Josh Saw in BNL July '02)

chazmataz - Posted - 10/04/2007:  11:53:14


DaveInCa - Berkeley eh...that explains it. No just kidding.

(I grew up in Millbrae/San Bruno, by the way)

I would admit to reluctantly agreeing with your point about the syncopation at what I'll call the smallest detail level...

In that - compared to exact straight notes sounding, ones given a "bounce" treatment would be syncopated, or not landing where expected. I could see that.

How about this? - My understanding of syncopation has always been...(as stated in previous post).

It'll be done by the vocalist. It is also done by, say, horn sections adding back up accented bops - very musically interesting. Jazz drumming you'll hear the drummer's left hand putting in all sorts of beats in between other stuff.

I think of Tower of Power's "What Is Hip" the horns and vocals are landing notes on a lot "e's" and "a's" in the 16th note pattern 1e+a etc.

Regardless of the words used to define it - it makes music sound cool, and interesting, yes?

Charlie

Sullivan Festival Deluxe

Jim Yates - Posted - 10/04/2007:  13:06:14


If you count this and clap on the red symbols, you'll get the type of sycopation that a Brazilian guitarist might play:

1+2+3+4+

This might be the type of syncopation a forward roll would produce:

1+2+3+4+

A square roll (thumb in and out) produces no syncopation:

1+2+3+4+

For these last two, I'm assuming that your thumb produces the accent.




Edited by - Jim Yates on 10/04/2007 13:08:25

Michael Keith - Posted - 10/04/2007:  13:11:25


syncopation? Never heard that word before. But I have a lot to learn.

DaveInCA - Posted - 10/04/2007:  16:54:53


>>The offbeat notes are not at an unexpected place because every other 16/th note is in the same place.

Gerhard, not clear what you mean here. The delayed notes are not midway between down/up beats, which is where they would be expected if the playing were straight. Or do you mean that the delayed notes are in the same place each time through? A repetitive 3-note forward roll TIM TIM TIM TIM etc. in straight time has a repetitive, regular and hence predictable pattern too, but it is clearly syncopated, even if we don't emphasize the same finger each time thru (but we do in order to magnify the effect).

>>Now, if you moved a melody note from the downbeat 1 to lets say the "4 and" of the previous measure it would be syncopation, but not the subtle timing shifts changing the feel of the tune.<<

Yes, that is surely syncopation, and a more obvious example.

>>And looking at the wave diagram of the 'Syncopated Looper', looking at amplitudes there is clearly an emphasis on the beat and downbeat and much quieter notes in between, so it is not syncopated at all.<<

OK, I see your point about the lack of emphasis of the delayed notes, and if that is a part of the definition of syncopation (that it happens when only the obvious melody (or emphasized) notes occur in unexpected places, and not when "fill" notes occur there), then the Looper isn't syncopated on that basis. But I think the definition of syncopation is wider than that. Also, when the banjo (or any instrument) plays notes in the same timing pattern as the Looper but gives each note (including the delayed in-between ones) more or less equal amplitude (no de-emphasis), does that make the instrument's music syncopated?

Look, I suppose I'm saying that *technically* the Syncopated Looper-style bounce is a variety of syncopation (hence the name is apt) but I'm happy to acknowledge that bounce is not the best or most obvious example of syncopation, and that banjo players get their syncopation in much more important ways; but I suppose we'll just end up disagreeing about whether delayed "bounce" notes are within the definition of syncopation.

Charlie, [GA after SF? Radical change. ;-)] Yes, it is at that detailed level, and it's not as obviously syncopation as the kind you described, which is the same kind being described by Jim and others in this thread and in previous threads on this topic. BTW, in one of those previous threads I was on Gerhard's side and agreed that the Looper wasn't syncopated, but I have since changed my mind. ;-)

Dave

tomt - Posted - 10/04/2007:  17:43:15


The important part of syncopation is "unexpected." A note where it is not expected. The lack of a note where one is expected. An accent where it is not expected. Any of those are indeed syncopation.

DaveInCA - Posted - 10/04/2007:  18:14:19


> DaveinCa What is the trick to down load and play the looper and Earl o meter? I've been trying to get this for over a month now , on and off and can't get it to play.

Joe, download it (left-click it on that page and choose Save to Disk, then let it download), then locate the file you have just downloaded and unpack it (zip file, IIRC so you need an un-zip program on your machine---e-mail me if you don't know how to do this), then open the resulting "looper_hi.swf" file in your *web browser*. Are you using a PC? If so, two ways: right-click the looper_hi.swf file in Win Explorer and choose Open With.., and point to the name of your browser (Internet Explorer, FireFox, whatever); it should then run. Or, from your browser (the program you are using right now to read this post), pull down the File menu, choose "Open File" and point/click your way to the looper_hi.swf file, select it, then click OK. It should run. These are Flash files, so you need theFlash plug-in, but you probably have it already. if not, it's a free download.

Dave

GerhardP - Posted - 10/05/2007:  00:54:55


Dave,

tomt has a good description, unexpected. Maybe another way of putting it would be that syncopation involves a musical surprise. And in a swing tune the 1/16th notes are NOT expected halfway between notes, it is NOT surprising to find every other note a little later, it's what is expected in swing. Hence no syncopation. If the whole tune is like that, it is no longer unexpected or surprising. I guess we could do this until the cows come home, so let's just leave it at that, your definition is wider than mine.

Gerhard


"Most bullet holes in banjos are a result of poor aim"
(Fretless Josh Saw in BNL July '02)

GerhardP - Posted - 10/05/2007:  01:08:03


Sorry, can't let it rest :-) Here's Wikipedia's definition of swing, the first paragraph even sets it apart indirectly from syncopation;

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swung_note

And here is the definition of syncopation from Wikipedia::

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Syncopation

If anyone has a credible web source (other than someone misnaming their drum machine) that describes swing as syncopation, post it here.

Gerhard


"Most bullet holes in banjos are a result of poor aim"
(Fretless Josh Saw in BNL July '02)

DaveInCA - Posted - 10/05/2007:  03:53:02


>>If anyone has a credible web source (other than someone misnaming their drum machine) that describes swing as syncopation, post it here.

From here: http://cnx.org/content/m11644/latest/
"The "swing" rhythm in big-band jazz and the "back-beat" of many types of rock are also specific types of syncopation. "

Perhaps here: http://www.cs.queensu.ca/home/daver...reSycopa.pdf
"Another type of 20th century music which makes explicit use of syncopation is jazz. Here the
music more often than not relies on a steady underlying pulse given by the drummer and bass
player against which the musicians can react against the beat by playing on the off-beat in a
syncopated manner. This is a characteristic of the swing style of Duke Ellington whose famous
composition It Don’t Mean a Thing is defined by this feature. Swing jazz consists of the off-
beat being moved slightly beyond half-way towards the following beat (the precise distance is
hard to measure, giving rise to the jazz musician’s maxim that swing needs to be felt rather than
measured)."

Here: http://tinyurl.com/2xjv2b (can't copy from it--it's a book excerpt)

Implied here? http://www.austinlindy.com/types_of...op_music.htm
"Lindy Hop can be done to any music with a swing rhythm: music played in 4/4 time with a rhythm that has an even-keeled "pulse" on every beat along with syncopated triplets that shift the beat slightly (bat... ba-bat, bat... ba-bat, instead of bat-bat-bat, bat-bat-bat) for rhythmic emphasis. This American-originated rhythm is present in all forms of American music: not just Jazz and Blues, but also all types of Rock, Country, and "R&B" music."

The above at least suggest that syncopation can be entirely regular (and hence "expected" in the sense you mentioned), despite the other common descriptions involving surprise (unexpected) emphasis, placement, or absence of various notes.

On the other hand: ;-)
http://pythia.uoregon.edu/~llynch/T...sg01992.html

"Swing does not mean syncopation.
Syncopated rhythms can be played in straight time.
This is what is heard in tango. Swing is virtually
non-existent in tango.
Syncopated rhythms can also be swung. Syncopation has
nothing to do with swing. They are distinct elements."

Opinions on this do seem to vary.

Regardless of Syncopated Looper classification, the way to learn Earl-style syncopation is to recognize it in his playing: he got his syncopation while playing un-bounced un-swung perfectly straight (to my ear) mainly by the notes he chose (by clever roll combinations) and the emphases he gave them, and emphasis of the off-beat. Shuckin' the Corn has these syncopated elements and the tab for it is in the Scruggs book.

Dave


Edited by - DaveInCA on 10/05/2007 03:54:08

GerhardP - Posted - 10/05/2007:  09:12:49


Thanks Dave, It really seems there are two schools of thought about this, both of them with merit and 'official' supporters. I wasn't aware of one of them,

Thanks!
Gerhard


"Most bullet holes in banjos are a result of poor aim"
(Fretless Josh Saw in BNL July '02)

chazmataz - Posted - 10/05/2007:  11:45:35


Looks like we can agree that syncopation is hard to define in an absolute way. Not surprising is it? To add fuel to the fire, if a pattern of syncopation is established early in a tune, does it then become expected, and thereby not syncopation? Just thinking out loud…I guess if a bluegrass band really got into syncopation, they could call themselves the “Syncopats” er, ah, maybe not.

Most threads on the topic refer to a difference between the swing, and other syncopation—mainly trying to really be clear with the author of the thread what they are asking.

For banjo, I see two points right off: 1. We can appreciate Mr. Scruggs’ use of syncopation with varying finger patterns for melody, and in providing drive with rolling backup. 2. We don’t have to be locked into TITM in order to always have the melody sound exactly with the vocal on a beat – sort of frees up your creativity.

DaveInCa – moving from the Bay Area – one word…female! Ga is beautiful, lots of trees. However, I’d be hard pressed to name a place with better weather (on the whole) than Ca. I also miss the ocean. Oh yeah, and skiing in Tahoe. Don’t forget the beauty of the redwoods, and the desert. And the character of The City… Come to think of it, what am I doing in Ga? Lol

Good thread - although I keep talking after the author bails...my wife says, "What's so unusual about that. You always say too much." Gotta love her.

Pick on dudes.


Charlie

Sullivan Festival Deluxe

kjcole - Posted - 10/05/2007:  12:16:51


I'm with Gerhard on this one - I was taught the difference between swing and syncopation as an 8th grader playing sax in the jazz band -

swing - first thing we learned was not to play those eighth notes 'square' but to hold out the first (as if the two eighth notes were actually a dotted eighth followed by a sixteenth) hum "In the Mood" and you've got it. REad the sheet music and it is written as eighth notes, by the way. The first thing we learned was not to play it as written! - but 'swing it'. Note that the act of holding out that first eighth note adds natural emphasis to the downbeat - which is very incompatible with the more hardcore forms of 'syncopation', like ragtime, which is described next.

syncopation - accenting the offbeat (or accent where 'unexpected'), or leaving out a usually accented note; hum the opening to Joplin's "the Entertainer" that's the one from the movie "the Sting" (or just about any ragtime song) Note that in classic ragtime, it's all syncopation without any swing (those eight notes get exactly one-half beat).

Most of Scruggs distinctiveness comes from syncopation without swing - when he does swing, it really stands out (hard to swing and maintain 'drive' - swing has a sort of laziness to it that isn't compatible with drive).

I'll agree that, broadly defined, swing is a form of syncopation. But the two get separated pretty well in bluegrass - swing translates to bounce, but the majority of what Scruggs laid down for us was distinctive and instantly appealing due to syncopation without swing (Shelton played with a lot of swing - instantly recognizable).

Kelly


Edited by - kjcole on 10/05/2007 12:48:37

tomt - Posted - 10/05/2007:  12:20:32


<< To add fuel to the fire, if a pattern of syncopation is established early in a tune, does it then become expected, and thereby not syncopation? >>

Yes, a pattern of syncopation is no longer syncopation. Swing is a pattern of syncopation that is consistent and expected. If you were to play a tune with a swing rhythm and then play a bridge in straight rhythm that bridge would be the syncopated part because it was not expected in the context of that tune.

DaveInCA - Posted - 10/05/2007:  13:00:15


>Yes, a pattern of syncopation is no longer syncopation.

Tom, I have to disagree with this. Although there are no "surprises" or "unexpectedness" to the ear of the listener after a few bars, why not logically extend this to say that ALL syncopated music should now be considered non-syncopated because listeners everywhere have become used to the idea of syncopation and are no longer surprised by it or even notice the syncopation? I think we need to keep, as a baseline for purposes of comparison, entirely "straight" rhythm with none of the other elements of syncopation.

Dave

banjer5 - Posted - 10/05/2007:  13:55:29


There is a tune which has been around for decades (I should know) called "Syncopated Clock". Find a place to listen to it and understand the term. BTW It isn't bluegrass.

Fast Freddy the engineer says "run 8 throttle n' highball"
Don't look back, something might be gainin' on ya.


Edited by - banjer5 on 10/05/2007 13:57:53

DaveInCA - Posted - 10/05/2007:  14:45:47


>"Syncopated Clock"

After listening to this piece dozens of times over many years, it holds no surprises at all. Hence I now refer to it simply as "Clock". ;-)

Dave

chazmataz - Posted - 10/05/2007:  14:56:44


radical Berkeley hippie -- and comedian.



Charlie

Sullivan Festival Deluxe

banjovy - Posted - 10/07/2007:  15:03:01


Polyrhythms could also be considered synchopated. A hemiloa could be a basic example of that. 3 over 2

grinning_muppet - Posted - 10/07/2007:  21:08:27


i agree with daveinca... i know lots of jazz players who are super advanced in rhythm and theory and they often refer to syncopation in this way.

Banjo 5 - Posted - 10/15/2007:  02:39:03


Listen,
sycapation is very easily explained. I used to play drums years ago before playing banjo. A parididle, 8 stroke roll, flam taps, can all be related to the banjo. a paradidle is left right left left right then right left right right left. Sycapation bascially is an off set time. It isn't in 44 time for example. Sycapation is usally on the off beat. Led zepplin is a prime example of sycapation Black dog. Not acccenting a series of notes.
there called nuances. What is really cool is accent on the first string with your middle finger terry bacom does that a lot.
Theroy man!!

banjovy - Posted - 10/15/2007:  09:39:06


quote:
Originally posted by Banjo 5

Listen,
sycapation is very easily explained. I used to play drums years ago before playing banjo. A parididle, 8 stroke roll, flam taps, can all be related to the banjo. a paradidle is left right left left right then right left right right left. Sycapation bascially is an off set time. It isn't in 44 time for example. Sycapation is usally on the off beat. Led zepplin is a prime example of sycapation Black dog. Not acccenting a series of notes.
there called nuances. What is really cool is accent on the first string with your middle finger terry bacom does that a lot.
Theroy man!!



LOL

steve davis - Posted - 10/16/2007:  17:00:16


Syncopation is the difference between what is expected by the listener and what you give them for rythym.

Sometimes I just gotta wait for better weather

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