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When to count in 2 and when in 4 beats per bar ?

rhysonsax

Well-Known Member
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4,390
I am trying to learn the song "On Green Dolphin Street" for an improvisation workshop next month. It is usually played a quite at rapid tempo (say crotchet = 180 or more).

This seems more comfortable for me to count in two (minim) beats per bar.

Is this because of the feel of the song and are there any rules/guidelines for counting in 2 ?

Rhys

PS When people advise practising songs with the metronome clicking on beats 2 and 4, presumably that is something quite different ?
 

rudjarl

Senile Member. Scandinavian Ambassadour of CaSLM
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657
Hi Rhys,

On Green Dolphin Street is usually marked as "alla breve". This often indicates two beats per bar rather than four. However, there is but one strict rule for when to count to two rather than four: If you feel like it.

When the metronome is clicking on beat two and four I think of it as on the "upbeat" whereas one and three are on the "downbeat". You would use them according to the feel of the tune or, and this is the brilliant bit, according to what you feel like.
 
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Young Col

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2,419
Rhys,
Likewise, my Real Book version has it in 2/2. I sometimes count crotchets individually in 2/2 but my version of Dolphin alternates between Latin and swing and only has crotchets in triplets in the Latin parts of the theme, so as are they across the beat it doesn't help to count them in order to keep time. The swing section has crotchets but if they are swung as quavers are in 4/4 it won't help again to try to use them to keep time. Best probably as you suggest, keep the 2/2 in your head.
Hope that makes sense.
YC
 

rhysonsax

Well-Known Member
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4,390
Thanks guys.

It's a really nice song and I've found some great versions on YouTube, including these two:


They know the tune and changes inside out and just make beautiful music on it - but I struggle to keep my place in the changes !

Rhys
 
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Tenor Viol

Full of frets in North Shropshire
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Agree with what's said above. Obviously 2/2 is in two. Also 'alla breve' sometimes called 'cut time' which is the 'common' time symbol of a letter C with a vertical line through it. Obvously, you can get triple time signatures such as 6/8 and 6/4 which are also usually counted in two, unless very slow in which case they will be in 6 (I doubt you'll see 6/2 in jazz - that's more my domain of Renaissance music!).

Bottom line really is how the pulse feels to you (the 'tactus') if you feel it in two, it's in two! If it's really quick (and to be honest crotchet = 180 is pretty quick) you may even want to think one in a bar (one of the pieces I sang last night is 3/4 very quick, about crotchet = 200 - we treated it as one in a bar).
 

Morgan Fry

Senior Member
Messages
447
I am trying to learn the song "On Green Dolphin Street" for an improvisation workshop next month. It is usually played a quite at rapid tempo (say crotchet = 180 or more).

This seems more comfortable for me to count in two (minim) beats per bar.

Is this because of the feel of the song and are there any rules/guidelines for counting in 2 ?

Rhys

PS When people advise practising songs with the metronome clicking on beats 2 and 4, presumably that is something quite different ?
Depends on what the rhythm section (esp. bass) is doing. The default arrangement for this tune (i.e. what guys will play if you call it at a jam session) is a quasi-latin pedal thing over the A section and a 2-beat swing over the B, -- some variation on the Miles arrangement. So yeah, it's usually in 2 -- for the head, at least, anything goes in the blowing.

Yeah, metronome, snap, whatever on 2 & 4. I can't off the top of my head think of a jazz feel that doesn't go for.
 

aldevis

Surrealist Contributor.
Cafe Moderator
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12,125
Actually...
180 is not too fast for a metronome on 2&4 (90bpm) but In this particular case, being the A section latin, I would count that in cut time.
So, A 1&3 and B 2&4. Now you have to explain it to your metronome.
About nailing the changes, go for some Miles versions. He makes everything clear.

And by the way; it is supposed to be in Eb rather than C (as a common key for horns)
 

saxplorer

Senior Member
Messages
879
Thanks for this! It's a tune I've been meaning to try for some time: thanks to your post I gave it a go and managed to stumble through it to my Band-in-a-Box backing this evening. Not up to 180 tempo yet though!
 

rhysonsax

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4,390
Thanks for this! It's a tune I've been meaning to try for some time: thanks to your post I gave it a go and managed to stumble through it to my Band-in-a-Box backing this evening. Not up to 180 tempo yet though!
Hi Saxplorer,

I see you are in Surrey - you're not coming to the workshop on 9th at Farncombe are you ?

Are you playing it in Concert Eb and which sax are you playing it on ? I am still undecided about whether to play it on tenor or on alto.

I am gathering some stuff together to give me ideas on what to play against which chords and have got some transcriptions as well as backing tracks - drop me a PM if you are interested.

Rhys
 

saxplorer

Senior Member
Messages
879
Hi Rhys, seemed to work nicely for me on tenor, concert Eb ... on alto it seemed either too high in the range or too low for my comfort!

Don't know about workshop in Farncombe, very close to my neck of the woods though. Tell me more?
 

rhysonsax

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4,390
Hi Rhys, seemed to work nicely for me on tenor, concert Eb ... on alto it seemed either too high in the range or too low for my comfort!

Don't know about workshop in Farncombe, very close to my neck of the woods though. Tell me more?
http://www.thefarncombecavern.co.uk/monthly-jazz-nights/

Bass player Marianne Windham has started up a monthly jazz club upsatirs at the Freeholders pub on St John's Street. Her three piece rhythm section play with an invited guest and about 85 punters pay something like £7 or £8 to have a great time. It only started in March this year but so far she has featured Matt Wates, Nigel Price, Vasilis Xenopoulos, Henry Lowther, Stan Sulzmann, Dave Newton & Mark Nightingale.

Next month's guest is trumpeter Abram Wilson who is running a small impro. workshop before the gig. Places for that are all sold out, but Marianne is going to be organising more workshops and probably larger ones.

Where in Surrey are you ?

Rhys
 
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