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Rhythm and Melody with Baden Powell

Posted in Old Music by Brian Park on September 8, 2009

badenpowell

I’m not sure where I first heard this, but I bring it up every time someone is talking about rhythms versus melodies: a descending C major scale + rhythm = Joy To The World.

I’m sure there are many interpretations of this, but to me it says that melody requires rhythm to be memorable; otherwise, you end up in freeform jazz and new music land, where you have to pretend to enjoy and understand things while trying not to vomit on the pure pretentiousness of it all.

A significantly more interesting, beautiful, and complex experiment in rhythm and melody is Baden Powell’s Choro Para Metronomo (literally: “Choro for Metronome”). Baden Powell was one of Brazil’s best guitarists and composers, and yes, I appear to be in a Brazilian rut these days (not nearly as dirty as it sounds). The liner notes from Le Monde Musical de Baden Powell (1964) describe Choro Para Metronomo like this:

CHORO PARA METRONOME is quite a challenge. The choro which was originally an improvisation over folkloric patterns, turns here into a guitar piece. The metronome replaces the whole rhythm section. Fitting perfectly with this soulless rhythm, Baden Powell shows here his astounding technique.

Note: there are much higher quality versions of this recording out there, but I hope you are able to enjoy this one regardless.
NOTE #2: it seems the the .mp3s aren’t showing up in Google Reader for this post (but are for all the others). Anyone have any ideas? In the meantime, just open this page to hear the audio.

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