How great that there is food variety! Even with a small set of ingredients we can create a culinary world trip at home in our kitchen: Dutch, Mediterranean, Surinamese, Vietnamese, Chinese (of course no weird animals, please), African, Turkish, Arabic, American... fusion, vegan, etc etc I feel the same curiosity for rhythms. And one ingredient that definitely enhances the variety of rhythm are time signatures. That is the basic subdivision of a rhythm. The western music culture subdivides almost only in 4 or sometimes 3. But: we have 5 fingers on one hand, 7 days in a week,10-euro-bills... So why not also use such measurements in music, instead of only 4 and 3?
When listeners and music lovers listen to something, they just like or not – it’s their cup of tea or not. But musicians from the western world tend to immediately call beats in other time signatures "complex" (while it actually isn’t) "not enough flow" or "music for musicians". They would rather experiment with their food diet, cook North Vietnamese vegan paleo recipes or gluten- and water-free soups. Instead of looking at their “musical” diet: wait a minute, we always cook with the same rhythmical recipes. Why not try something else?
Well, it is, of course, being done already. There is a lot of variety in experimental music, progressive rock, and jazz. And, already since ages, in the geographical area from the Balkan to India. I hope, that a bigger variety of rhythms also finds its way into other music styles and maybe also more mainstreamish music. The rhythm is the basis – on top, You can shape the music in any direction. Only the gatekeepers of the music industry (do we still need them?) often reject anything, that could be a potential risk. But rhythms in mainstream used to be more colorful back in the days: Money (Pink Floyd), the Mission Impossible theme song, Solsbury Hill (Peter Gabriel), Alive (Pearl Jam) ... they all use other time signatures than the usual 4 or 3. And of course all the pieces of Dave Brubeck in the 50s, Take Five etc. But the good thing is: we don’t need mainstream anymore, anyone can create her/his own main stream...
The below piece has a beat in 7. It is grouped in 3-4: a shorter beat (3) and a longer beat (4), always alternating. I got to know this pattern when I played some shows with Afghanian (!) popstar Valy, a long time ago. His latest hit at that time had exactly that rhythmical setup. I saw the music video first, cool guys with sunglasses, stylish cars, and breakdancers. A catchy hook but then - this beat, wow! We played it live and thousands of teenagers were jumping and clapping in 7! One short jump (3) and one longer(4) jump. It was amazing! And reacting to rhythms is obviously a matter of conditioning!
I get excited from playing with musicians from other music cultures, Brazil, India, Africa... But not so much to only carefully learn all the rhythm patterns in details of other countries. It is above allwas the freshness and vibes these guys brought from their musical heritage.
So I always loved to experiment with rhythms, soundwise and counting wise. When I came up with this track "Septivity", later on, I was working with singer Pallavi Arun from India who was on tour in Germany at that time. I thought, why not put some Indian vocals on top of my bass-thumping, -plucking and -slapping? I asked her and she said „Yes, I like this takita-takadimi (7) beat, let's do it“. And then there it was.
So Enjoy the music! And for the interested player, I have a second video version with my playing hands and a bass sheet underneath it… so grab a bass, plug it in, and play along. Takataka-dim-dim!
Underneath the videos I put two tracks in 4 and in 5, for comparison.
Septivtiy with score:
Two tracks in 4:
And here two tracks in 5: