Friday, June 6, 2008

Introducing the Elrond Hubbard Name That Beat Challenge

This is the kind of thing I think about while driving. In this particular song, what beat (1 or 2 or 3 or 4 or some off-beat in between) does this first drum hit fall upon? The following audio clip is the first 2 seconds of the song. In it, you hear a "UFO descending" sound followed by the exact drum hit that I'm talking about:

This interests me because of the funny syncopation that follows in the song's introduction. This is a rock song with a strong infusion of 80's pop-electronica, a form that definitely has a worthy niche in the great realm of all music in my opinion, especially when used so humorously, as you may agree from hearing a little more of the song:

Can you tell what beat that first drum hit falls upon, just from listening to this short clip? I could not; I need to hear more of the song. By the way, those sampled words you hear are "Y'all still want me to come with you?" spoken by a famous voice out of rock history. You might prefer to deduce what beat the word "Y'all" falls upon.

If you're like me, to figure out what beat that first drum falls upon, you'll need to hear the whole introduction. It's in the following clip. I can not easily tell where any beat is until the guitars kick in fully in the final 1/3 of the following clip. There, it is pretty easy to tap one's foot and count out the beats. But to figure out where that first drum hit falls, way back at the very beginning of the song, you have to count backwards (while repeatedly playing the intro forward). Don't try this as I do, which is while trying not to run into deer.

As you repeatedly play this and try to count the beats, something that could throw you off is the loud drum roll that just precedes the entry of the guitars in the intro clip you just heard:

As far as I can tell, no extra beats are added, and none taken away, to create the syncopated entrance of this drum roll. It just starts on a funny off-beat, that's all. And I have not bothered to figure out what off-beat either! So as you listen and count, when this off-beat drum roll appears, just hold on tight and keep counting, don't waver.

As an aside, and perhaps a complication, I love the syncopation of the bass drum in this portion of the intro:

But back to the original question, which is, what beat does that very first drum hit fall upon? Here, again, is the whole intro, for your study:

You can answer in the comments.

After all this, you might ask what song this is. As your reward for accepting this challenge, go here to hear it, and view its video, in its entirety. A lot of fans of this band hated when they went all "80's" on us and brought in this electronica element. But I love them for doing this. I think it's pretty darn funny. I also love the syncopation in Sleeping Bag and My Head's in Mississippi.

1 comment:

phil said...

My minor curse is that I'm not good at this sort of thing, but I pay enough attention to music (and have enough musician friends) that I *want* to have this skill.

In this case, I take some satisfaction in sharing that I theorized (after the very first sample) that the only way one could figure out the beat count was to hear more of the song and count backward. Yay for that, at least.

Yesterday on the road I heard "Boogie Wonderland" on the radio and thought it would be a great track for clearly showing a beat on 2 and 4.

Don't ask me how long it took (as a kid) to learn how to play 4 against 3. Or how long it seems to be taking (as a grown up) to figure out the beat for arms vs. legs