I'm catching up on a TV series that I have missed and badly wanted to see. Treme. Watching one of the episodes the other day I heard this great line from one of the musician characters:
I played there. Nice folks, but you know they clap on one and three.What a wonderful line. It is a description of what kind of music moves you, what kind of music is in your soul.
On one side is the old traditional style. In a four-beat measure, you clap along when it's beat one or beat three.
This is perhaps best described as, well, square. ONE, two, THREE, four.
But then there's the other style. This one emphasizes the backbeat, beats two and four. It is a style that seems to have come from jazz and brought into early rock and roll. (Note that the movie about the early Beatles was titled Backbeat.) For some reason that I have never even wanted to figure out, there is often a power in the backbeat style. It drives you forward. It keeps you moving. A number of years ago someone was telling me that there is even a generational divide on this one. Those born after rock and roll are more comfortable with the backbeat. Those before then clap on beats one and three.
Back in October 2007 I said this about the change in music patterns:
What happened was that the music became a soundtrack for all that was happening. Music became the unifying force because it was something everyone began to share in common. Not only could we hear them on radio, we could see them on TV. We also could take the radio with us thanks to transistors, and listen at the beach or wherever. As a soundtrack the music became indelibly imprinted in our minds and forever connected to all the events.It really does have something to with the music we feel or hear in our soul. Each generation is different, of course, but certain music patterns endure. The backbeat pattern is obviously one that makes a difference.
And, I believe, changed our musical brain patterns. Somewhere between 1945 and 1967 we learned to respond to the backbeat- counts 2 and 4- instead of beats 1 and 3. Music began to move differently. Music began to produce different brain waves. Music propelled us forward in ways that we had never seen. If you don't see this, just watch a group of older baby boomers and older try to clap in time with music. It will be different than the younger Gen X and Gen Y style.
Just ask the writers at Treme.