Advanced Rhythm

Please note: this is the course that up to the 2019-2020 academic year has been offered as 'Contemporary music through non-western techniques'

The expansion of rhythmical possibilities has been one of the cornerstones of musical developments in the last hundred years, whether through western development or through the borrowing from non-western traditions. Most classical performers, whether in orchestral or ensemble situations, will have to face a piece by Stravinsky, Bela Bartok, Ligeti, Messiaen, Varèse or Xenakis, to mention just a few well-known composers, while improvisers face music influenced by Dave Holland, Steve Coleman, Aka Moon, Vijay Iyer, Miles Okazaki or elements from the Balkans, India, Africa or Cuba. Furthermore, many creators, whether they belong to the classical or jazz worlds, are currently organising their music not only in terms of pitch content but with rhythmical structures and are eager to obtain information that would structure and classify rhythmical possibilities in a coherent and practicable way.

20th and 21st centuries music demands a new approach to rhythmical training, a training that will provide musicians with the necessary tools to face with accuracy more varied and complex rhythmical concepts, while keeping the emotional content. The programme ‘Advanced Rhythm’ addresses ways in which the Karnatic rhythmical system can enhance, improve or even radically change the creation (be it written or improvised) and interpretation of (complex) contemporary classical and improvised music.

Course description
The programme ‘Advanced Rhythm’ is intended for students from both classical and jazz departments, and structured in five different approaches:
1) Reading (Classical performers)
2) Improvisation (Jazz)
3) Composition
4) Conducting
5) Music Theory

Performers

This programme, directed at performers of all instruments is organised in an ensemble situation, and consists of two different approaches: the Reading and the Improvisation ensembles. In both cases, the number of students in an ensemble will be between 5 and 8 and will meet for the entire academic year. The duration of the total programme is one to four years. Every year the student will decide whether he/she will continue into the next.

Classical performers (Reading Ensemble)
In an interview in August 2000, Pierre Boulez has said: “If the rhythms and phrasing that are peculiar to contemporary music would be taught in the best conservatories in an intensive way, the future of contemporary music would certainly change and performers and general public would really start enjoying pieces by Berio, Xenakis or myself. The lack of accuracy in orchestras is the biggest obstacle for communication between composers and public.”

The main objective of the programme ‘Advanced Rhythm’ is to provide rhythmical tools that will help the student to achieve a higher degree of accuracy and confidence. South Indian (Karnatic) classical music not only makes use of one of the most complex rhythmical systems but, in addition, has very clear and practical teaching and exercise methods.

The incredible wealth of rhythmical techniques, devices and concepts, the very structured step-by-step approach in dealing with irregular groupings, polyrhythms, polypulses, metrical modulations, meter changes etc, enable western musicians to improve and enhance their accuracy and make the study of Karnatic rhythm a fascinating adventure of far-reaching consequences.

This programme is exclusively practical. No complex theories or concepts, only practical exercises are given in order to acquire a greater degree of accuracy without losing the sense of feeling and emotion.

The first year provides the essential rhythmical base for all classical musicians: the programme addresses the necessary techniques to perform western music composed from the beginning of the 20th century up to the 1950s, as well as more recent music that essentially uses the same level of rhythmical intricacy (in general, music that most professionals are bound to encounter in an orchestral or ensemble situation).

In the remaining three years the techniques imparted focus on catering to the needs of music from the 1950s on. The classes cover material that can be found in rhythmically demanding pieces that could already be considered ‘classics’, by composers like E. Varèse, E. Carter, O. Messiaen, P. Boulez, L. Berio, I. Xenakis, G. Ligeti, T. Murail, K. Stockhausen, M. Finnissy, B. Ferneyhough, to mention just a few well-known composers.

Each year, in the last two months, every student will prepare a duo or trio piece of contemporary music (eventually a solo). The teacher will show and help the student in how to implement the different techniques studied during the year in the chosen piece. A presentation with all the pieces will take place at the end of the year. Collaboration with the composers following the composition approach of the programme is highly encouraged.

Course details
teachers Jos Zwaanenburg, Rafael Reina, Jonas Bisquert
term September 2020-June 2021
requirements To have completed Introduction to Advanced Rhythm or to be following it in the 1st semester.
credits 10 per year; the first 10 will be taken from the master electives and 10 of a second year will be registered as 'individual credits'.
related subjectsMusical Texture
  Orchestral Practice and Audition Training
  Tuning & Temperament

Composition

Just as a composer is aware of the physical constitution of an instrument when devising extended techniques, they could be fully aware of the organic implications of a rhythmical challenge in order to obtain an effective result.Rhythmically, a lot has been tried out during the last hundred years, but the essence of the matter remains to be addressed so as to produce a clear vision and comparative perspective. The prism of karnatic techniques provides clarity in the understanding of the rhythmical phenomenon. Numerous karnatic tools facilitate dealing with rhythmical queries as specified below.

Of course, rhythm is intertwined with every other musical parameter, never isolated. Hence, the deep understanding of its unique characteristics and how it enhances other parameters will result in a multiplying effect. It is only up to the inventiveness, creativity and innovation of the composer to take it a step further.

The Karnatic rhythmical system offers paths to create music using rhythmical complexities in a very organic fashion, getting away from the highly-charged ‘intellectual approach’ that has possibly characterised much of the ‘new complexity’ approach to using rhythm. An important aspect of Karnatic rhythm is that it is a system in which the practice methodology and the developmental possibilities of the same concept are inextricably linked. The notion of common denominator impregnates the structural architecture of each technique and its developmental possibilities.

Course description
Advanced Rhythm for composers proposes an intercultural approach to universal rhythmical concepts.We reflect upon the essence of rhythm, tackling abstract and concrete notions, simple and complex expressions:
* Pulse, non-pulse, subdivision, speed, density, displacement, accents, polyrhythm, polypulse...
* Comparative notation of rhythmical values, time signature, tempo, metrical modulations...
* Rhythmical relation with phrasing, texture, form, larger structures...

Numerous Karnatic (South-Indian) tools provide clarity in the rhythmical phenomenon, reassuring the composers' personal view, while facilitating their creativity in all diversity of genres and aesthetics.

Objectives, training:
* Composers enrich their rhythmical palette, gaining intuitive, expressive and creative potential.
Theory and practice. Karnatic concepts in intercultural context. Universal rhythmic concepts.

* Composers acquire an organic feel for rhythmical proportions.
Physical exercises based on karnatic tools. Bodily experience. Ability to demonstrate.

* Composers explore rhythmical issues of existing repertoire, including their own pieces and work in progress.
Listening and analysis of relevant material from different origins, in different styles

Composers experiment the latest developments in complex rhythmical notation, establishing their own vision.
Comparison of notational solutions to rhythmical challenges.

Composers can incorporate rhythmical concepts into a larger scale of structure and form.
Work on developing larger formal strategies. Karnatic, western and examples from elsewhere.

Course details
teacher Rafael Reina, Jonas Bisquert
term September 2020-June 2021
credits 10 per year; the first 10 will be taken from the master electives and 10 of a second year will be registered as 'individual credits'.
related subjectsMusical Texture
  Tuning & Temperament

Conducting

This programme, directed at Conducting students, addresses the rhythmical problems that may arise in many contemporary music pieces by Stravinsky, Béla Bartók or Varèse to Xenakis, Boulez, Elliot Carter, Ferneyhough or Ligeti, as well as more recent composers. The main objective is to provide rhythmical tools that will help the student  achieve a higher degree of accuracy and confidence in the performance of rhythmical complexities as well as an important support to the students’ conducting technique when working on contemporary repertoire. Karnatic (South Indian classical) music not only makes use of one of the most complex rhythmical systems but, in addition, has very clear and practical teaching and exercise methods.

The students will not be asked to perform the karnatic techniques with instrument but using exclusively ‘solkattu’ (set of rhythmical syllables used in South India as the first step before playing an instrument). This should enable the student to ‘sing’ a rhythm or phrase to a performer while rehearsing and to adapt the techniques to his/her own whims while conducting.

Topics like metrical modulation, polyrhythms, polypusles, polytempi, inner amalgamation or meter changes will come under scope using the wide variety of karnatic techniques and concepts as starting point. The main goal is that the student can use these techniques to better ‘understand’ a myriad of rhythmical complexities used in western contemporary music as well as how to translate these techniques into conducting patterns or different ways of thinking while conducting.

The number of topics covered each year will be higher than in the course designed for performers since the student will not use instruments, and there will also be an exhaustive and intense comparative analysis of how to apply these techniques to western pieces from a conductor’s viewpoint.

In the last 8 weeks (mid-April to mid-June), the student can propose a final project; this project can range from a short dissertation about one of the topics seen, or a thorough rhythmical analysis of contemporary pieces with karnatic tehniques (or any other proposal that would be suitable to the subject). Individual meetings will then take place in order to coach the student in his project.

Course details
teacher Jos Zwaanenburg
term September 2020-June 2021
classes 2 hours per class, classes are scheduled according to the conductors' availability
assessment attendance, homework, attitude; final project; theory exam. Max. 6 out of 28 lessons may be missed.
credits 10 per year; the first 10 will be taken from the master electives, and 10 of a second year will be registered as 'individual credits'.
related subjectsMusical Texture
  Orchestral Practice and Audition Training
  Tuning & Temperament

Music Theory

There would be three separate aspects in the lessons

1) Imparting of many karnatic techniques and concepts that can be used pedagogically as well as creatively. These techniques will require some written exercises in order to show that the student has understood the ‘architecture’ of the techniques and concepts.

2) Practice of the material to a level of ‘organic understanding’ of the techniques. The student will not be asked to perform the techniques to the level of the classical performers or improvisers, but will need to have a clear understanding of how to perform them but using exclusively ‘solkattu’ (set of rhythmical syllables used in South India as the first step before playing an instrument) and how to teach it to students.

3) Exhaustive and intense comparative analysis of how to apply these techniques to western pieces or how to find parallels between karnatic techniques and music that has not been composed with them but yet, resemble karnatic concepts.

In the last 8 weeks (mid-April to mid-June), the student can propose a final project; this project can range from a short dissertation about one of the topics seen, or a thorough rhythmical analysis of contemporary pieces with karnatic tehniques, or a short composition (or any other proposal that would be suitable to the subject). Individual meetings will then take place in order to coach the student in his project.

Course details
teacher Rafael Reina, Jonas Bisquert
term September 2020-June 2021
credits 10 per year; the first 10 will be taken from the master electives and 10 of a second year will be registered as 'individual credits'.
related subjectsMusical Texture
  Tuning & Temperament

Contact

Share