[PD] list issue

Mathieu Bouchard matju at artengine.ca
Fri Mar 6 01:29:13 CET 2009

On Thu, 5 Mar 2009, Jonathan Wilkes wrote:

> Unless you happen to be listening to Carter, Cowell, Ferneyhough, 
> Johnston, Nancarrow, or anyone who has ever happened to use a quintuplet 
> (Chopin, Elvin Jones, maybe Al Pacino in "Heat")

I didn't say that quintuplets don't happen!

I mean that quintuplets are relatively rare, and they rarely are used that 
much in one piece. You could take a complete piece of 5/4 and write it 4/4 
and it would have quintuplets all over, and so you could take a piece that 
is mostly made of quintuplets and disguise it as a 5/4 without 
quintuplets, but if it wasn't all made of quintuplets, then the result 
should have some kind of anti-quintuplets, that is, multiplying the note 
durations by 1.25 times instead of 0.8 times. But I've never seen this in 
one notational form or another. Independently of how it's written, I've 
never heard it either.

So, there is this asymmetry whereby you can find plenty of patterns of 
accretion of durations in multiples of 5, but not much splitting of 
durations in multiples of 5.

I'd be glad to get references to specific pieces that contain a lot of 
quintuplets. Of the five composers you named, I only heard Nancarrow, I 
only heard of Nancarrow, and then, I don't recall any quintuplets in it, 
but I didn't see the score and perhaps I couldn't grasp the rhythm of it 
just by ear (?).

It reminds me, I once applied in music composition at UQÀM, but when they 
sent me a letter telling me they wanted to test my piano skills with sheet 
music, I didn't reply, because I don't have any piano skills and can't 
read sheet music in realtime. The only instrument I was really ever 
proficient with was ScreamTracker, and boy did I abuse that thing. I made 
pieces in 21/8 time and whatnot. I found that notation much easier to deal 
with than classical notation... except for making quintuplets, that is.

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| Mathieu Bouchard - tél:+1.514.383.3801, Montréal, Québec

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