5 vs 4

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#1 Wed, 1996-05-08 03:40
John Shiurba
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5 vs 4

a while ago someone posed a question about 5 against 4 polyrhythms. while listening to the live at kimball's tapes (which are terrific, by the way, highly recommended!!) i noticed a 5 vs. 4 thing on "space is the place". the baritone sax that plays the intro figure is in 5/4 while the rest of the band kicks in with 4/4, and the bari continues against it. i went back to several other versions of the tune, and to my surprise i found that this 5 vs 4 thing is always there, but it's much less glaring, when it's not used as the intro.

this is only one of several kinds of 5 vs. 4 polyrhythms. in this example the quarter note pluse of the two is the same, so that they only realign after 5 measures of 4 (or 4 measures of 5). it's also possible to have a measure divided into both 4 and 5 parts simultaneously, for an example of this check out the tune "poly" on the first tone dogs cd, "ankety low day" the other and most common 5 against 4 rhythm is the quintuplet where within a single beat five sixteenth notes are crammed into the space of 4. this is abundant in post war classical, and jazz that draws from those sources.

shiurba