cubanmiamiboy

Irregular time signatures in ballet

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I noticed this comment while reading my older posts. Thanks vagansmom for noting the Irish slip jig, which is new to me.

Being a music theory teacher, just want to mention that 9/8 time is a compound metre, not a complex (irregular) one. In compound metre the top number of the time signature is always a multiple of 3. It shows how many subdivisions of the beat there are in each measure (here 9 8th-notes).

In 9/8 metre the 9 subdivisions (8th-notes) are grouped into 3's. Here there are 3 groupings, each of 3 8th notes. Each grouping adds up to 1 beat, represented by a dotted note (here 3 beats, each a dotted quarter note).

The system developed historicaly and is not entirely logical! Rule of thumb:

In compound metre the top number will be 6, 9, or 12 (divisible by 3).

In simple metres the top number will be 2,3 or 4.

In complex metres the top number will be 5, 7, 11, 13 . . .

Besides the gig, other dances in compound metre include the siciliano and the tarantella.

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Irish dance and fiddle music uses 9/8 time frequently, often in a minor mode. The slip jig, a light balletic dance that only women do, is in 9/8 time. Some dancers, those not as musically inclined, sometimes miss the beginning of their dance.

West African music uses a variety of unusual (to our Western hemisphere ear) rhythms. When I first started playing African hand drums, it took me a few weeks to hear a few of those rhythms despite my extensive musical background.

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