I saw something on Discovery once that blew me away. They had a triangular object that could work exactly like a wheel. They placed two of these rounded triangles on a table spaced apart with a flat board laid on top. To my amazement the board could be pulled back and forth on top of the rolling triangles and had no up or down movement. These ‘wheels’ are inefficient compared to wheels of circular design, but they do deliver the same end result. To my further astonishment they said there were other shapes which could do the same job but there was no time to show them. . . .To this day I try and imagine what the other shapes were? I think they were probably other angles of triangles, but I’m no engineer.
I often think of these triangular wheels when designing beats. There is the circular wheel, the round beat. 137 beats per minute, on the dot, like the tick of a clock. Your standard boom boom boom. This is the top of the two audio tracks posted here. Working with these straight beats is fun, and there is an endless amount of work you can do on the different rhythms drawn overtop, but in the end its a bit like using a coloured canvas. Sure you can draw a masterpiece on it, but it will have the same blue background everyone else is using.
The real challenging beats are the ones with the odd patterns. Especially when both kick and snare elements are keeping off the steady meter. The lower track is the same song, but with a triangular wheel. I actually wrote this odder lower version first, but then wanted to make the track more commercial. I scraped all my hard work making the odd timing work, and slapped down a steady straight kick- a process that takes all of about 3 seconds and is the creative equivalent of wearing socks. – “oh look, you’re wearing socks again. . ..how creative”.
When the beat is straight, its easier to fit the music in, but when the beat is odd you’ve got to tweek the timing of things to the highest precision. The bad spacing of a sound in an oddly timed loop by even the smallest microsecond can totally screw up the coolness. When working with straight beats, the blue background manages to smooth out your work making things close enough to work. This is why there is so much mediocre straight beat music out there being made by amateurs- its easy, and it smoothes out rough edges. For me, the more interesting beats are the ones that are odd, but end result in something so cool that you can bob your head along as though it were a steady meter. The complexity of the triangle with the easy flow of the circle.
Although in this case it looks like the blue canvas worked out better. The bottom track was a fairly early attempt at samples music, a bit far off the beaten path of whats music though i think. The top one is one of my favourites, makes me think of horse racing for some reason?.
Tags: beat, beats, canvas, cars, circles, conventional, cool, coolness, dance, discovery, discovery.ca, forms, keyboard, keyboards, kick, listening, loop, loops, meter, midi, music, musical, notation, physics, pleasant, rap, rolling, round, sample, science, sculpting, shapes, smoothing, snare, sound, tempo, time, timing, triangle, triangles, tv, unconventional, wheels