- Carl on his solo in the Man of La Mancha.
- For Mike for sounding like a cornet on his solo.
- Clarinet Section for working hard on Mannin Veen.
- The full band on really good intonation.
METER and MIXED METAPHORS
Although mixed meter has been used in folk music for thousands of years, it gained notoriety with Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring (which was written in 1913 – over a hundred years ago).
To understand odd meter, one must first understand that meter can be classified as simple, compound, or mixed depending on how the beat is divided.
- Simple Meter divides the beat by two – 2/4, 3/4, 4/4, cut-time, etc.
- Compound Meter divides the beat by three – 6/8, 9/8, 12/8, etc.
- Mixed Meter combines simple and compound meter.
In other words, 5/8 is the mixed meter comprised of:
3/8 + 2/8 (a compound meter plus simple meter)
Since there are TWO beats, it is conducted in TWO
(with one beat longer than the other).
Mission Impossible is:
6/8 + 4/8 (a compound meter plus a simple meter)
There are two beats in 6/8 and two beats in 4/8 so it is conducted in FOUR (with two long beats and two short beats).
You might say, “Well, that’s good theory but how do you knows it really applies to Mission Impossible?
First, Lalo Schifrin, the composer, says that he based the theme on the Morse Code for the letters “M” and “I”. The Morse code for these letters is:
DASH DASH DOT DOT
So how would one conduct that? Surely, one would not conduct three beats for the two dashes.
Therefore, it should be conducted in four (not five) with two long beats and two short beats – a musical metaphor for the Morse Code!
Second, the snare drums plays a constant pattern throughout the piece:
> > > > 1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 1 2
So how would one conduct that? In five? Or four?
> > > > In FIVE 1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 1 2 1 2 3 4 5 > > > > In FOUR 1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 1 2 1 2 3 4
“In four” makes the most sense. It lines the meter up with the accents. Therefore:
6/8 + 4/8 = 10/8 (which reduces to 5/4).
There is a Slow 6/8 (that gets six simple beats)
and a Fast 6/8 (that gets two compound beats).
Similarly, there is a Slow 5/4 (that gets five simple beats)
and a Fast 5/4 (that gets two compound beats and two simple beats).
Part of the difficulty is that some parts have a dotted half on beat one and players want to give that note three beats.
In SLOW 5/4, that would be correct because a dotted half note gets THREE SIMPLE beats (just like 3/4).
However, in FAST 5/4 (10/8 time), a dotted half gets TWO COMPOUND beats (just like 6/8).
PLEASE DO THIS!
On long notes, writing the subdivisions in the bar
(1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 1 2) and circling the subdivisions that are sustained will make them much easier to play.
On YouTube, some conductors beat this piece in five and some beat in four. And some look like they have no idea what they are doing.
Most interestingly, the composer Lalo Schifrin, a world class conductor, does something that no one else does. He conducts Mission Impossible in two! He makes one downbeat for the 6/8 part and one downbeat for the 4/8 part.
Watch this fun video for a different type of ensemble – start at 30 seconds – the conductor’s beat pattern is clear and perfect in Four.
PLAYLIST (with audio links)
- Valdres (Norwegian March)
- Mannin Veen
- Thunder and Blazes (Entry of the Glad.)
- First Suite in Eb for Military Band
- Baby Elephant Walk
- Theme from Exodus (1960 Movie)
link to studio recording – not our arrangement but fantastic music
- Mission: Impossible Theme
- The King and I
- The Magnificent Seven
- Man of La Mancha