Oumaotcouwao’ist

12.09.2011 § Leave a comment

Oumaotcouwao’ist is in 5/3 time. I discussed this with a few friends and we decided that since the “note value that constitutes a beat” element of the time signature, that is, the bottom number, is arbitrary to the “number of beats in a measure” element, the former’s greatest contribution to the meaning of the time signature is to define the resolution of the subdivisions of each beat. That is, were I to have instead said that Umowchuwowiest was in 5/4, I’d still be saying that each measure had 5 beats; it makes no difference whether I call each of these beats “quarter” notes or “one third” notes. However, a “quarter” note implies that it further divides into eighths and sixteenths and thirty-secondths, etc.; the subdivisions are all 1/4 multiplied by 1/2^x. By calling it a “one third” note I hope to imply that each beat divides into sixths and twelfths and twenty-fourths, etc.; the subdivisions are all 1/3 multiplied by 1/2^x. Implemented, it’s just like each measure has 15 beats: snare drum hits every 3, kick drum hits every 5.

At least, that’s what I had decided about Oumaotcouwao’ist several years ago. The truth is, its beats do not divide into 3 parts then 6 then 12 then 24, that is, 1/3 does not get multiplied by 1/2^x. It gets multiplied further by 1/3 in some places, and 1/5 in others. I suppose the best way to describe its rhythm would be 1/(3^x)(5^y), because it operates by dividing every beat by either 3 or 5. This is a rhythmic style I am seeking to explore further in my songs that will feature infinitely decreasing tempos, diving deeper and deeper into recursively defined patterns.

If you’d like to listen to the older version, which is a bit slower, more robotic, and not tuned to Bohlen-Pierce, try this:

And here’s a yet older song that I had nearly forgotten about, that uses the same 5 against 3 rhythm without taking it anywhere deeper than that, but is still pretty nuts:

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