Funky Syncopation

by Sinisa Cekic

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  • Hey GMCers,

    Welcome to my new lesson about SYNCOPATIOn. Syncopation is a vital characteristic of the rhythms of many different types of music - pop, jazz, African, Carribean, Latin American.

    Let's say- the rhythmic effect of moving the accent on to a beat that is normally unaccented, or simply - played 'off the beat'.

    Syncopations can happen anywhere: in the melody, the bass line, the rhythm section, the chordal accompaniment. Any spot in the rhythm that is normally weak (a weak beat, an upbeat, a sixteenth of a beat, a part of a triplet) can be given emphasis by a syncopation. It can suddenly be made important by a long or high note in the melody, a change in direction of the melody, a chord change, or a written accent. Depending on the tempo of the music and the type of syncopation, a syncopated rhythm can make the music sound unsteady, surprising, uncertain, exciting, or just more interesting.

    Take a look at example 1:

    1 2 3 4
    X X X X

    If you play a note on all four number counts, you are not syncopated.

    Now ,The first and most common method is by accenting a note by making it is louder than the notes around it. This is called a dynamic accent. Try playing a rhythm of constant eighth notes, and accent the "and" syllable of one of the counts. Since that note is louder than the others, it will seem stressed. Since you've stressed one of the normally weaker portions of the bar, you've just played a syncopated rhythm:

    Example 2:

    1 2 3 4
    x x x x x!X! x x


    Things are much more interesting if you skip some parts of beats:

    1 2 3 4
    x x x x !X x

    Another technique of stressing certain parts of a bar is to play longer rhythmic values. This is called an agogic accent.

    1 2 3 4
    x x !X.. !X..x x

    I hope that you understand syncopation folks!!

    Use your creativity and try to syncopate with quarter, eights and sixteenth notes!

    Have fun!

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