On 02/14/2013 07:50 AM, Paul Davis wrote:
"Essentially nothing" ?! With all respect, I think you might change your
mind if you played a a lot more Bach. :)
Rhythm in Western music is not only the moment-to-moment movement of
durational units and aggregations, it includes a macroformal component
not often studied or understood by most listeners. Large-scale rhythm is
a major formal factor in the design of large-form works.
I note you refer to harmony and not counterpoint, yet surely Bach's
genius shines most brightly in that domain. And anyone who's gone
through species counterpoint knows the deep importance of rhythm in the
It's a commonplace to disparage the apparent lack of rhythmic innovation
in the works of the 19th century orchestral masters, but considerably
more goes on at higher levels than is typically understood. The surface
rhythmic activity of early Stravinsky and Bartok tends to be very
attractive after the apparent blandness of Ze Germans, but I'm learning
(via some articles by Roger Sessions, if you're interested) that those
old guys had some pretty subtle ideas about rhythm too.
True that. I'm spending a fair amount of these days listening to qawwali
by Nusrat Khan and other singers in that tradition. Extraordinary stuff.
Of course, it can be logically argued that it does essentially nothing
with harmony, but that's not what I'm listening for in that music.
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