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He wrote many fine pieces in traditional time signatures, but of course is best known for his compositions in unusual time signatures. I was listening to Rush Permanent Waves (their best, I think) today and realized that they too use all sorts of odd time signatures, and often change time multiple times throughout a piece. There are really only a small number of artists who work outside of the confines of 3/4 or 4/4 time.

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Comment by Julie Harris on December 23, 2012 at 12:32pm

Hi Gav-

We all love and miss Dave Brubeck ... he was a superb musician and a great man.  But I can't help but disagree with your statement that "...only a small number of artists .. work outside the confines of 3/4 or 4/4 time".   Almost all of my favorite composers move freely from one non-duple, non-triple time signature to another:  Stravinsky, Messaien, Norgard, Ligeti, Moussorgsky, Bartok ... the list goes on and on.  Even those older composers who still used the symbols 4/4 and 3/4 wrote music within those confines which totally transcended any sense of 4 or 3 beats:  Charles Ives, Debussy, even Chopin in some of his more forward-looking moments!  4/4 and 3/4 are artificial structures we learn, but not what we experience first-hand from our earliest moments of life.  Even my youngest composition students - the 5, 7, and 9 year olds - move freely between 7/8, 11/8, 8/8, 3/8, etc.   Instead of having them always count to 3 or to 4, I have them say a sentence naturally and then write down the words and put in bar lines where the strongest "beats" would be.  These experiments rarely if ever result in duple or triple time!  

My field is classical, as you can probably tell from my examples.  I know jazz, but not nearly as well as I know classical, and not nearly as well as you do!  So maybe your comment was related to jazz musicians?    To me, Dave Brubeck was as much a classical composer as he was a jazz musician - I guess we're all drawn to what we love most, so I was always drawn to his wonderful classical-influenced pieces:  Points on Jazz - especially the fugue, some of the piano solos from Dave's Diary. 

You might enjoy the tribute that one of our VirtualArtists members wrote just after Brubeck died:

Merry Christmas!!

-- Julie

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