Amarta Project

Amarta Project
Beyond The Lines, Beyond The Sea

Friday, 20 May 2011

Waltz with Me

Today's listening - "I Got A" - Nicolas Jaar.

1,2,3 - 1,2,3....

We all know a good waltz when we hear one don't we? In the last blog I mentioned writing (more germinating at the moment) a piece inspired by a TV show I saw. It was written in one of those golden moments, at 3am - when I really should have been in bed.

But when it comes, you bow to it.

The piece is a cute, twee, major chord piece of Americana which would slot into a cult movie as easily as black coffee and cherry pie. Unintentionally, it's in 3/4 time - ie. it's a waltz. It's important to distinguish that it's in 3/4, and not 6/ is definitely a waltz.

Now, this didn't strike me as strange at the time. It is what it is - it's nice - I'll use it for something - it sounds good on a solo piano - can I go to bed now? But upon reflection I had to concede, that's it's the first piece of music I've written which isn't 4/4. Why is this? Why is there a drought of pieces in irregular meter? It's almost as if musicians are afraid of it - or regard it as something dirty.

It's too hard. The listener won't accept it. It's unfamiliar.

Nothing could be further from the truth. When I realised I'd written my first non 4/4 piece, I felt another shoot in bloom as a musician, another string to my bow, another bullet in my armoury. Some notes and observances then...on a waltz.

A waltz, in my opinion, is one - or t'other. It's either a delightfully joyful experience, or it's mournful, aching and cold. There is no in between. I'll illustrate this - watch this video. You'll know it - and you will let your inside sway from side to side as you listen to it. 1,2,3 - 1,2,3....

"The Blue Danube" - Johann Strauss

Pretty isn't it? There's something about this piece of music that just warms you from the inside out, and certainly - the meter of it helps that along. It gives it a jaunt, a spring to its heel. This is a wonderful, timeless illustration of the waltz. Another wonderful illustration of the waltz, will leave you on the dark side of the moon - howling. Watch this for shading in the extreme - again, it's a waltz. 1,2,3 - 1,2,3....

"Open Heart Zoo" - Martin Grech

Oh, hello. Was staring at my boots there.
See what I mean? Howling. The meter makes it metronomic - intense and inevitable, the futility of a soul waiting to be broken. Both achingly beautiful and both - waltzes.

Never been a music theorist. Never been a theorist of any kind really. I work and live with what feels good. At 3am when I wrote that piece of music, 3/4 felt good.

And I hope it will continue to do so for some time.

'In the midst of winter, I finally learned that there was, in me
An invincible summer.'

- Thomas Carlyle

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