Articles

American rhythms are superior

May 2, 2019



the American system of naming rhythms is unequivocally superior to all of the others things like crotchets minam's and quavers are demonstrably inferior to the American system which uses quarter notes half notes and eighth notes now if you're an American you may never have heard of a crotchet or a quaver before but never fear fellow Patriots for ignorant is bliss we can finally take pride in our nation's preferred system of measurement yes it is easy to be embarrassed that there are 12 inches to a foot and 5,280 feet to a mile our imperial system is completely illogical but our rhythmic system is not to be a hundred percent fair it's not really our system it was a system that was calt which is a linguistic term which means stolen from the German system this was likely because there was a large German immigrant population in North America in the 18th and 19th centuries this system is a fractional system based upon simple divisions of a whole note or a guns ánotá you can think of a whole note as like the number one the American system of rhythm is like dividing a pizza into delicious rhythmic slices when you divide one by two you get two halves when you divide one by four you get four quarters are you with me so far oh yes British Adam is the maths too complicated for you first of all I do not appreciate the sarcasm and second of all what would you call this adulthood minim in a ba of three four should you call that a whole note your system is quite illogical first of all that is a terrible accent it's not necessary for the streaming device at all so let's lose that on the next cutaway and second of all it's a common misconception to think that a whole note means a whole measure it just so happens that one whole note equals one whole measure of 4/4 an incredibly common time signature and I hate to say it this way but mathematically speaking you can think of time signatures or meters as simply fractions of whole notes musically they're treated differently 3/4 and 6/8 are very different from a musical standpoint but mathematically they are the same 3/4 takes up 3/4 the amount of time as one whole note how many eighths of a whole note are in one of seven eight seven of them is this too confusing for you British Adam and the British system you can say that is one crotchet or one quaver but what is a whole note a whole of well what is one one of that questions doesn't really make any sense because numbers are used to define quantity and in music the quantity of which we speak is beats per minute we think of these beats per minute as pulses and traditionally we need to find the pulses as quarters of a whole note a quarter note in one tempo maybe five or six times slower than a quarter note in another tempo but it doesn't really matter though because we don't conceptualize music in terms of inter onset intervals a fairly technical scientific term used to describe absolute note length instead we simply define the size of the rhythmic pizza and then start cutting okay we get it you like pizza you're American you're fat the whole thing kind of ties together with your rhythmic system I still don't understand why you don't want to adopt things like minimum crunch and quavered because these are the linguistic terms that our forebears used and have been used to describe music ever since we need to respect that yeah so um about that british english like spanish and italian and some other languages use a bastardization of latin words used in something called men schorl notation which was an early form of notating rhythm that came about in the late Middle Ages first you had the Maxima or the note with the maximum possible Note value then you had the longa a long valued note followed by the breath or a brief note a semi breath was a note shorter than a breath and then the smallest possible rhythmic duration you could use was something called the minim or the minimum possible note value for those of you are familiar with modern-day rhythmic notation the meanings of these terms don't quite fit with the symbols that are associated with them for example there are many possible smaller note divisions than this the supposed minimum note value what happened well as the centuries progressed and music progressed composers started experimenting with smaller and smaller note divisions like for example the semi minim the fuchsia and the semi fuchsia since there's kind of a cap on how fast musicians can played dividing note values over and over again kind of had the effect of a rhythmic inflation breves and semi breves which at one point were used to describe quick notes soon described note values of longer length at least compared to the fancier newer terms that were being used there was pushback of course to these newfangled rhythmic terms and 1,400 Thomas divulging ham wrote of a new character has been introduced called a crotchet which would be of no use of musicians would remember that beyond the minim no subdivision is possible the term crotchet of which mister divorcing him spoke of so disparagingly came about as a colloquial term to describe the shape of the note it's an english calc of the french crush which means little hook it kind of looks like a hook right makes sense well it would make sense of today's british english referred to this note as a crotchet but they don't they refer to it as a quaver which is another colloquialism used to describe the trembling nature of vast trilled notes played in succession by the 17th century quaver became the preferred nickname for this note and crotchet became the preferred nickname for this one so crotchet means hook in a different language for a note that doesn't even have a hook and the note that does have a hook is called a quaver and it gets even more ridiculous from here as musicians needed smaller and smaller subdivisions beyond that of the quaver crotchet or whatever they began attaching Latin prefixes to the very non Latin folksy term quaver a note faster than a quaver became a semi quaver faster than that was a demi semiquaver faster than that was a honey demi semiquaver and faster than that was a semi honey demi semiquaver although i've also heard that one called a quasi maybe some of my British viewers will be able to enlighten me on the proper Latin prefix for a note that's faster than a Hemi Demi semi quaver because I don't know to put this into perspective remember at the time the term quaver was super folksy and colloquial think about this sometimes American jazz musicians will refer to a whole note as a football because it kind of looks like a football right the American kind calling something a semi quaver or a demi semi quaver would be like calling this a semi football and this a demi semi football that sounds ridiculous right but it's no different than the language that modern British English uses to describe rhythms is a language built on outdated Latin terms from ensure all notation and then the informal nicknames for those terms and then later attempts to real Aten eyes those informal epithets it's like our current imperial measurement system an awkward hodgepodge of incredibly outdated and sometimes downright illogical measurement schemes during the Reformation in the 16th century German musicians abandoned the Latin musical terms in favor of terms in plain German these terms were easier to understand and less opaque and made music more accessible to more people it's simple clean and elegant like the metric system most of planet Earth is on the metric system right now so we know that it is possible to change measurement schemes however hard habits may die but really is there our musical reason or a practical reason to compel others to adopt this fractional naming system as much as it pains me to say this no there really isn't a reason to compel others to switch because the music is the same we're just using different I'll be at better terminology yeah you might make anecdotal arguments saying that one system is better than the other at learning music in the beginning but this is not the thing to have dire real-world consequences like the infamous case of NASA's Mars climate orbiter which crashed into Mars this atmosphere because engineers forgot to convert imperial units to metric units in the software the worst thing that can come from this is momentary confusion when people of different musical cultures interact on the bandstand or heaven help us all an eight-page threat on talk based calm of people talking in circles around each other it ultimately really is not that consequential but an understanding of the history and the logic of the language in which we use to describe music can give in in how our culture understands music learning about how we got here right now can be incredibly rewarding the system that we use for music did not come about in a vacuum it's the product of thousands of years of human achievement deep knowledge of something requires an understanding of the history of that thing and the history of language and music is essential for understanding and appreciating how music works that said the American system rules the British system drools go America suck on that anyway before we end I do want to give a special shout out to the French rhythmic naming system it's not quite as good as the American and German system but it's oddly endearing and how literal it is in a way that I feel is not particularly typical of the French language this note is they roamed because it's round this note is a Blanc because it's white this note is a new R because it's black this note is it crush because in this case it actually looks like a hook this note is a do block off because it has two hooks it's really quite hard to argue with any of that anyway guys thank you so much for watching this is Adam Neely I have a new video coming out every Monday if you enjoy what I do here on this channel please comment like and subscribe and if you really enjoy what I do please consider joining my patreon visits the patrons over at my patreon that really let me do this week after week and I am very thankful to all of you guys over at patreon and yeah until next time everybody peace

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32 Comments

  • Reply Lumiel May 2, 2019 at 11:33 pm

    It's pretty much like this in Norway too. Probably also 'calqued' from the Germans

  • Reply League of Legends Feeds May 2, 2019 at 11:33 pm

    I started learning violin in like 2007/2008 and my theory teacher taught me the breve, semi-breve, mínima, semi-mínima, colcheia, semi-colcheia, fusa, semi-fusa and so on XD didn't really think much of it at the time haha

  • Reply Tim Francoeur May 2, 2019 at 11:33 pm

    British Adam's accent was actually really good.

  • Reply federico saviano May 2, 2019 at 11:33 pm

    5:56 lol

  • Reply Stephen Gent May 2, 2019 at 11:33 pm

    Blah blah. So an American gallon is not the same as an imperial gallon. So why use and imperial measurement system for weights and measures yet you use a decimal system for money? I guess feeble colonial brains could not quite grasp the concept. What about spelling? Changing words because they were too confusing. Oh dear how sad. You know what you were taught. I had to re-learn measurements and coinage from imperial to decimal. I learned the old style system of music. That was the system. 70% of Americans of German descent. Imagine that. Explains a lot really.

  • Reply Erin Johnson May 2, 2019 at 11:33 pm

    This if fully biased! But then I guess I am also biased towards the British notation system soooooo

  • Reply still_esperance May 2, 2019 at 11:33 pm

    French are better than everyone else in this world

  • Reply Daniel Crompton May 2, 2019 at 11:33 pm

    Semi-breves are out there every day providing the backbone of our musical notation and understanding. Breves are the deadbeat dad who turns up drunk at the end of the movement of an Easter oratorio then is never seen or spoken of again until Christmas. I think it's only fair that we allow semibreves to have this qualifying prefix removed- semibreves will become known as breves and breves will be known as double-breves. A minim will be known as a semi-breve because it is half a breve. The word minims can just go die. I've called minims semi-breves by accident (because I think of them as half a whole note and the 'semi' part throws me) such an embarrassing amount of times in rehearsals I may have to give up being a musician in England and build a new identity abroad.

  • Reply sydsons May 2, 2019 at 11:33 pm

    so I might be a bit biased cause Im british.
    I understand the british system more because the notes are named what they are for the reason that they are what they are. A full bar of 3/4 could have endless possibilities, and for example, you could have 12 16th notes, but that doesnt sound right because that isnt going to be a full bar.
    in the end, an american 3/4 bar is less superior bar to a 4/4 because to you, more beats are better than less.

  • Reply Fizz_Fanta May 2, 2019 at 11:33 pm

    Some folks are born made to wave the flag
    Ooh, they're red, white and blue
    And when the band plays "Hail to the chief"
    Ooh, they point the cannon at you, Lord
    It ain't me, it ain't me, I ain't no senator's son, son
    It ain't me, it ain't me, I ain't no fortunate one, no
    Some folks are born silver spoon in hand
    Lord, don't they help themselves, oh
    But when the taxman comes to the door
    Lord, the house looks like a rummage sale, yes
    It ain't me, it ain't me, I ain't no millionaire's son, no
    It ain't me, it ain't me, I ain't no fortunate one, no
    Some folks inherit star spangled eyes
    Ooh, they send you down to war, Lord
    And when you ask them, "How much should we give?"
    Ooh, they only answer "More! More! More!" yoh
    It ain't me, it ain't me, I ain't no military son, son
    It ain't me, it ain't me, I ain't no fortunate one, one
    It ain't me, it ain't me, I ain't no fortunate one, no no no
    It ain't me, it ain't me, I ain't no fortunate son, no no no

  • Reply Antonios Vasilellis Neto May 2, 2019 at 11:33 pm

    Bollocks

  • Reply Step SMP May 2, 2019 at 11:33 pm

    Here in South Africa we have the same naming as american naming for note values in our language (afrikaans)

  • Reply Julian Santos May 2, 2019 at 11:33 pm

    reads title tf

  • Reply Nakano Lemon May 2, 2019 at 11:33 pm

    Nice accent

  • Reply Tommy Leung May 2, 2019 at 11:33 pm

    when you realize that the British created the imperial system too.

  • Reply Pushkar Carlotto May 2, 2019 at 11:33 pm

    Myself having had an education in music in many parts of the world (and in different languages), I love the tradition from which all of these names come, a bit of history where and how they came to be (like you explained in this video), and I do like to recall their origin ('minum' as the minimum value). Plus the idea that a quarter is a quarter of something that we just call the "whole" note sounds very wrong to me, because it related to a very narrow minded look at music, where the 4/4 is all that seems to exist and be right. Luckily there are more different time signatures, and that variety enriches us. Unluckily when a child starts music lessons, we do have to tell them that the quieter note is one beat, but how wrong is that once you learn more! Then why not also learn how to sing from a score written in 1200s! 🙂 (We all had to learn that in our Aural Skills class!) But I do get your point.

  • Reply luc leblanc May 2, 2019 at 11:33 pm

    As someone who went to a french elementary school and then transferred to an english high school, that last part made me weirdly nostalgic for my recorder days

  • Reply md May 2, 2019 at 11:33 pm

    So, as "american" as a hamburger 😊

  • Reply Spencer Harris May 2, 2019 at 11:33 pm

    Hahaha! +1 for the 8 page Talkbass threads. 😂😂😂

  • Reply sacredgeometry May 2, 2019 at 11:33 pm

    Whats a breve then? A more than whole note? a 200% note? (just messing you are right its more descriptive/ better)

  • Reply Joshua Stein May 2, 2019 at 11:33 pm

    why do you all still call it the american system? Do you call your alphabet the american alphabet too? Or numerals?

  • Reply Sebastián Cortés May 2, 2019 at 11:33 pm

    How can that be an American system? I don't know about Slavic, Baltic, other Germanic languages but in Hungarian we use the same GERMAN system and I bet a whole bunch of other languages use it too… So I visited the US and now I'm making corndogs here so it's now a Hungarian dish?

  • Reply Scott Happy May 2, 2019 at 11:33 pm

    America: WE DID IT WE GOT IT
    Canada: Hold my beer
    i am american so

  • Reply Da Pumaface May 2, 2019 at 11:33 pm

    Haha an American saying to a Brit that we bastardised language. Good one mate!

  • Reply Charles Gamble May 2, 2019 at 11:33 pm

    The mars orbiter crashed because both sides converted their numbers to the other system, at least thats what I had heard.

  • Reply MAdemsoiselle Rhapsody May 2, 2019 at 11:33 pm

    <3 he calls us "fellow patriots" <3

  • Reply Emily Rowland-Rawson May 2, 2019 at 11:33 pm

    As a proud Englishman (woman, i suppose), I do agree with you. It took me years to get the difference between a minim and a crochet into my head. But I don't think your portrayal of us was completely fair, we're not THAT stuck up.

  • Reply sounddude47 May 2, 2019 at 11:33 pm

    As an American, when I studied in New Zealand, I had no idea that there was an entirely different music rhythmic categorization. So when I was called on to analyze a measure and said "quarter-note triplet", I got looks as though I had spoken gibberish. It was such a curveball.

  • Reply Sascha Debney-Matiszik May 2, 2019 at 11:33 pm

    Or just live in Australia and switch between both mid sentence. Ohhhhh music classes are ‘fun’ over here

  • Reply Mark Spencer May 2, 2019 at 11:33 pm

    Not only do I agree with this analysis, I – as a Brit – need to see more and more of British Adam. His accent is certainly better than my appalling US one… 🙂

  • Reply Rubia Victoria May 2, 2019 at 11:33 pm

    Very interesting, while listening to you I was thinking if it would be possible to translate the ~American~ German system to brazilian portuguese, well, it wouldn't be hard but some adaptation would be necessary, for example the "eighth" note would be a "oitava" wich is the same word we use for "octave". Anyway these are just names we give to musical elements, and to know how to call them in different languages is cool and very useful since language is the universal music 🙂

  • Reply guy? May 2, 2019 at 11:33 pm

    Quarter note doesn't work in any time signature other that 4/4

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