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Mixed Meter at CMC

Our intermediate Eurhythmics class at the City Music Center has been working this year on mixed and odd meters.  We’ve been stepping and clapping different combinations of twos and threes, moving to world music compositions as well as German Zwiefacher dances, and exploring how these meters can fall into a groove.

This is a chant by the legendary teacher Anne Farber.  The accents in the lyrics create an interesting metrical pattern that we enjoyed transcribing.

Every time I think about the

Many complexities of

difficult meters and

rhythm patterns, I

Just want to stop everything

and sit down.

After we practiced saying the rhyme, we began to mark the “Strong Beats” and group the patterns into twos and threes.

Each line was designated a meter, based on the metrical pattern implied.  We clapped the metrical pattern while we said the chant.   Promptly, we began to step the metrical pattern as well as chant.  Soon, some of the students showed a reasonable amount of proficiency in this.  So my next step was to partner them with another student who might have struggled a bit.  I used the hula hoops as “steering wheels” which allows the students to walk together without holding hands (which causes them to protest too much.).  I added some piano accompaniment to give it some context and we worked on stepping and chanting with our partner.  This video shows where we were able to get by the end of class.

 

I felt good about this exercise as both an analysis and experience of mixed meter.  The students got to start with the known quantity of the rhyme, the English language, and the natural word patterns.  Soon they began to find the metrical implications of the chant, and this was a collaborative effort.  Once we felt good about our decisions regarding the meter for each line, we practiced them one at a time.  When we were ready, we put the whole thing together.  It was really a revelatory experience for the students and demystified the mixed meter for them.