Friday, November 17, 2017

Time Signature: Ticks And Leeches, by:Tool

Wow. I happened to be looking for something else, (non-musical), and noticed a lot of bad advice, precious little good advice, but no correct answers. 

An odd time is any time signature whose measures begin with a downbeat, and end with a downbeat. Conversely, an odd time can also begin, and end, with an upbeat.

Don't be angry for my saying so, "Ticks and Leeches" is almost entirely, from beginning to end, and to the last notes before, during part of, and after the interlude, in 13/16.

There are places where the one measure of 13/16 becomes two of 7/16 by adding an extra note, and some might call that a 14 time. But I think of 14 having a straight dispatch through 14 counts, not two sevens, though technically, there is no difference....."Little Fly..."(2@7/16)
Basic 13/8 or (13/16)

Played on the spot to help give an example of the time signature involved, here....

Inevitably there are places 13/16 and 14/16 intersect, and should you think of this as 27/16, you may miss the accent potential that a more grounded analysis might offer.

"This is what you wanted...": posseses an even count at 16, which works as if we blended a 12/16 and accented four more at the end. Thus, drummers can call that 4/4. But due to the insistent renewal of the downbeat, this needs to be reflected in the Time Sig, cut time can be ruled out because it does not function this way. Thus, "This is what you wanted..." has a solution for everyone at 4/8, describing the blend of cut time intensity, and 12/8's triplet potentials in the bottom-end.

The interlude, though slowly, is also 4/8.

There are 7/8 parts, like the slow, grinding riff which immediately precedes the interlude.

If I didn't address your question, leave it in the comments.


How Odd Times Work, The Easy Explanation...

Because this isn't easy, but easily gets very complicated, it is best to boil odd times down into their essential elements.

For those of you asking from closed formats, sorry I wasn't around to help, stayed off the internet a long time.

There are two legs in all odd times after 5's, (9's could go either way) and in 13, we generally divide one leg into seven counts, and the second leg will be six, or vice versa.
Leg one, on the left, and two, on the right. This is what symphony conducters are beating-out with the baton they use in an orchestra. In Ticks and Leeches, the majority of the song is with leg one in seven sixteenths time, and leg two in six sixteenths, as shown, and played on the video.

For my money,  I would acquiesce to the endless complaining from other drummers and clock it at 13/16, but I secretly consider it 13/8, and when I play it like this, the 3's get the snare, as in 6 or 12/8, and would count:

One an two an three an four
One an two an three an

  • And play this figure in your head until it matches the figure DK plays at the very beginning of Ticks and Leeches, perfectly.

What makes the count 13/8, or 13/16, is basically whether we count it with "one an two an..." as shown, which makes it 13/8 because we use the downbeat and its "an", or whether we use the down beat and its "e" "ans" "das", as in 13/16.

Basic Points

  • The final authority in determining a time signature is "does one repetition of one riff fit exactly into the time I am theorizing?"
  • There is no such thing as 1.5 beats per measure, because, if you played two measures, you would have three beats. Same with 4.8, after five measures, you have 24 beats, and 6/? @ 4, 12/? @ 2, or six bars of 4/4: these are a few examples of what time signature does. It is not an attempt to limit anything.
  • Otherwise, we cannot have one fifth of one beat, because after five beats, we would now have one beat extra, making it a 6 time.
  • The beat exists as a whole unit. We can have a fraction of a measure, but we cannot sustain an expression of a fraction of one beat.
  • When determining times, we are only assessing what the value of that unit is, then expressing it as a ratio. For example, 7/16 describes Seven beats in a measure, where each beat is a sixteenth note.
  • And for each situation, there is no magic: only math and rational thinking.
  • "I hope you're choking..." 13/16 fits for each voice of each instrument in the sonic landscape, here: so it is the time..whereas
  • "Little Fly!.." two 7/16ths could describe the drums, but the rest of Tool could be scored without much difficulty at 7/8. Who wins? Experience! Pretend they do, but know that, when it comes to time, the drummer is the last and final authority, the drummer is the lawgiver. But discretion is the better part of valor.

No need to explain the dozen or so places the time changes, but I will give you how I do it for my band: nobody likes me, if, say for instance, I enforce some 11/8 riff on them. And, for ease of transitioning from 11/8 verses to choruses, back to verses, bridges, whatever: I find myself on the losing end of compromise trying to force tight musical turns when they just wish ", what difference is it gonna make?"... when it is my job to write out "when 13/8 becomes 4/4 or 7/8", and that is a pain!

But, if the tolerances in the odd time are too tight, and what is being suggested as a compromise is something where the singer and guitarist feel that they need a restoration of "normal abstract" because it is easier for them, compromise can be the hardest thing!

But then, in those places, I have learned not to fight. The cooperation works. And I have regretted NOT compromising more than compromising. Really, I have never regretted compromise, just not doing so.

So, in Tool's Ticks, those places where changes occur, look for there to also be 3 bars at 13/16, and one leg of the 7/8 and 2 bars of cut time, for example. 

All the mentions I saw of 27...for other songs, those are actually 9's, 9/16, at 3 bars. For this reason, some folks call all times with a number divisible by 3 on top a pure 3 time: but this, of course, is baloney.

9/4 and 9/8 shall suffer robbery if they are not given respect for their accent potentials unique to each of them.

How Do I Know When I Am Counting A Time Incorrectly?

  • Cycling:  When we count say, just for argument's sake, a 6/4 riff, such as Synchronicity 1 by the Police, and we count it in 4/4, the One Two Three Four is going to start over on the Five Six count of the first bar, and then, this count shall invert every other bar:
The blue is the correct count. The bold 5 and 6 of the first measure are, at first, under 1 and 2 of the red, or incorrect count, then, at the second bar, the correct 5 and 6 are now below the incorrect 3 and 4, and this is known as cycling. The wrong count is cycling through the right one.

Cycling is useful because the relationship with the incorrect count, in this case, 4/4, reveals; in the fast and predictable pattern of cycling through the count first at 1 and 2, then, immediately, repeats at 3 and 4: that we are two beats short on the time we are counting.

Cycling a 4/4 count in a 5/4 piece pretty much created a generation of awesome drummers, whose jazz instructors put Dave Brubek's Take Five in front of us, and the laughter, the was never gonna happen again.
Solving the 4/4 cycle versus the actual 5/4 count is how great drummers are made...

Identifying that the improper count cycles one beat at a time means a special set of skills will be necessary to remedy this. Because when this kind of count cycles this slowly, it should be indicating a paradigm shift will be in order. 

May I recommend Take Five, by Dave Brubek, or Number of the Beast (5/8), the song, not the record, by Iron Maiden? This 5/4 issue is one requiring metaphysical determination.

5/4, 5/8, are essential to all odd time skills in playing the drums. From there, the foundations are established in all odd time signatures. 
For 7's (8, 16) think of these as being a measure with four beats, and a second leg with three.
For 9's (9/4, 9/8, 9/16, 9/32, etc) remember: in a slow four four count with nine down beats, a lot of magic can happen distinguishing it from simply being three measures of 3/4, 3/8, or 3/16, etc. Also, 9/8 can be very cool when used to sound like four bars at cut time, with one extra note tacked-onto the end,
The 11's are either one leg of 5/8 or 5/4, and a second leg of 6/?, or vice-versa. They can also have a seven beat four beat effect, or eight, (2 @ 4/4) and one @ 3/4, or changing bottom numbers from 4's, to 8's, 16's, etc...
13's have the two legs, one six the other seven. But, it could be nine, and and four, or vice versa, another trick for defining that you are in 13 and NOT 12/something is that one leg is even, the other odd. If both legs are odd, check for the definite presence of a five count sequence, if you find it, and hear another seven count sequence, it is 12.
Remember: 15/8 is an expression of three 5/8, but Meshuggah, in their Scandinavian evil, often downbeats a slow count of 15/8, and riffs the sixteenth note accents in subdivisions. I heard the Sweetwater Tama snare guy, Nick DiVrigillio, playing a 11/8 riff on YT, same thing, he uses a subdivision on the 5/8 leg at the end, two entirely different genres. The uniting clinch? Both drummers have an almost omniscience in 5/? times, thus the beat follows instincts. 
29/16 is a time where you have six sets of four 16th notes, and five more 16th notes tacked on at the end.

Here is the 11/8 Tama demo piece. Really ingenious all-around, but the point is, that I am not selling a drum. Just listen to the first parts...Count it 1 an 2 an 3 an 4 an 5 an 6 1 an 2 an 3 an 4 an 5 an 6...

Sorry to bug u...

1 comment:

  1. If you are a drummer and have a question you want at least investigated like this, leave it here, and I promise that between the many irons in many fires that I have that sooner than later I will have an answer for you.


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