Wit & Wisdom
“MARY and the RHYTHM KINGS”
You’ve learned the familiar children’s song, “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” You go home, all excited, to play it for your Mom. You play all the correct notes, in the correct order, with beautiful tone, but with no regard to the length of each note (go ahead, try this!). The result is barely recognizable!
A good mom would probably smile, pat you on the head,, tell you “that’s nice,” and encourage you to keep practicing (but probably thinking: “Man, this kid just doesn’t have ‘it.”).
OK, now imagine a different scene…
You’ve learned the same song, and run home to show Mom, but in your hyperactive excitement, forgot the correct notes! Oh well, eager for praise, you’re determined to play it anyways. Singing the song in your mind, you play all the wrong notes, but, in the exact rhythm of “Mary Had a Little Lamb” at least (try this on your violin or by banging your fists in random clusters of notes on a piano to the song’s rhythm and you should get the idea).
Which version is more recognizable as the song? I haven’t met a single person who, having heard both examples, doesn’t think the second (correct rhythm, wrong notes) is the more recognizable of the two.
…and the moral of the story?
Rhythm is ALWAYS King.
Again, I’ll ask: Why?
Beats Me! (pun intended. Ha!). Human beings just seem to latch on to rhythm easier than pitch. Maybe it’s because of our caveman – banging on drum – evolution? Who knows?! It just is.
Obviously, BOTH correct notes and correct rhythm together is best, but, if in performance, you must choose, you are better off to play a wrong note at the right time. I’ll bet the majority of your audience either won’t even know the difference, or will be at least very forgiving .
How does this concept effect the improviser? …
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