June 15, 2009

Monday Mystery

My daughter is one of my main sources for new music, and she has tuned me into Great Big Sea. While they may have been around for more than a decade, they're new to me. The band is from Newfoundland and they play Newfie folk music, which has Celtic roots. I love their sound. Apparently Blobby does too.

Rocking along in the car to their tunes got me to thinking about how we join in when we hear music we like. In concerts, we clap along. I have noticed that if a guy tries to clap on the downbeat instead of the upbeat (1 and 3 instead of 2 and 4), everyone around him is uncomfortable and thinks he's a dweeb. What is it about that rhythm that is so wrong? I mean, they're right, but why?

To test out my theory, click on the two Great Big Sea tracks on my playlist on the right-hand column: "When I'm Up" and "Ordinary Day." Try clapping along first on the upbeat (the way that feels "right") and then on the downbeat. See?

5 comments:

Rox said...

I used to be best pals with a girl who was first cousins with the lead singer of Great Big Sea...small world eh?

My kids always sing the Donkey Riding song...drives me nuts.

Greg said...

Oh, I just sort of end up drumming all over the beat to fantastic music like this.

I'd heard tell of these guys recently, but hadn't found the moment to do a search for them.

Thanks, Birdie, for doing all the work for me. I'm off to order the whole dang CD now!!

Ur-spo said...

oh I love hearing about new music this way!
I would never learn/know anything otherwise.

KittyHawk said...

I had a friend who couldn't keep time - no matter 1 and 3 or 2 and 4 or 1,2,3,4. Never could teach him. Couldn't dance either. LOL Thanks for reminding me of him.

Jeaux said...

I think Cooper used to like Great Big Sea.

The second beat is always emphasized in pop/rock. Listen to the snare hit in When I'm Up, or any rock tune. Base/snare, base/snare. Even when it's not obvious, it's implied, and you fall into the rhythm.

Disco's big innovation, besides its other-worldly harmonics, was to emphasize every beat, giving it the driving, tribal feeling that drove gay clubs in the seventies and eighties.

There hasn't really been anything new since then, except rap and hiphop. Seems we've matured as a culture, at least musically, with only refinement and reiteration to look forward to. I sometimes wish, though, that the youngsters would surprise us with some radical departure, but we seem to be at an impasse.