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I wrote a contrafactum to rhythm changes today. Or I should say that one just occurred to the fingers of my right hand as I was playing, aft...

Monday, April 28, 2014

Formative (13): Percussion & Translation Theory

I took up percussion when I was about 35. I'm not particularly good, but that is hardly the point. My project for my free semester is to get good on a single kind of drum, or really two: to be a decent conguero and bongocero. I could play timbales too if I wanted to learn.

I can play a four against five polyrhythm without thinking about it too much. I know cáscara and clave, martillo and tumbao. I can play a jazz ride pattern and comp with my feet and left hand.

This part of my formation is really more of an obsessive-compulsive reaction. I need to understand rhythms, since that is the way my mind works. It is "the prosodic imagination," as it were. I do not play in bands.


I started translating almost the second I started learning Spanish. Really before that, because I remember trying to translate Blake's poem about the Fly into French. The first poem I translated from Spanish was by Lorca or Jiménez. "La rosa / no buscaba la rosa." And "Mariposa de Luz." I've always thought translation was central to everything I wanted to do, though I've never published a book of translations. Somehow I always put that off and do another book of scholarship instead.


Vance Maverick said...

Do you know of serious analyses of prosodic and musical rhythm together, i.e. theories of rhythm that work for both? Offhand the only place I can remember is (highly arbitrarily) in an autobiographical piece by Anthony Burgess.

Jonathan said...

Jackendoff and Lerdahl are the ones who have done this. I haven't looked at their work in a while.

Vance Maverick said...

Thanks -- can't even remember if I've tried looking into that, but no question that I should.

Lerdahl's music is worth checking out, by the way. "Waves" is interesting, for example, though it has a cumulatively fatal problem with form.

Thomas said...

Mayhewianism #6

Jonathan said...

I don't think I could compose a Mayhewianism if I tried. They can only be recognized after that fact.

Thomas said...

In my definition, I say that a Mayhewianism is "ideally, something actually written by Prof. Mayhew" (which leaves open the possibility of the rest of us making one by accident.) Maybe I should add something like, "…in a moment of perfect, unwilled authenticity." But that would make selecting them a somewhat presumptuous act (and would make it necessary for the rest of to accidentally become Prof. Mayhew on occasion.) I'm certain that they occur in context, and that the necessary context would be difficult to arrange at will.