PART 2 OF 5: RINGO'S METRONOMIC BEATS
Of the three fundamental drumming patterns mentioned yesterday, the metronomic beat is the simplest because the pattern is the same on each beat. That being said, subtle differences can be found. But on a fundamental level, once the pattern is established it typically doesn't change.
Take, for example, 'Across The Universe'. The only percussion used on the track (in both the 1968 and 1970 releases) is a constant quarter note bass drum.
Ringo will often use metronomic patterns during passages that change meter because the solid beat helps ground the music. Indeed, 'Across The Universe' incorporates an occasional 5/4 measure in the verses, which does not effect the drum pattern in any way.
Similarly, the choruses in 'Good Day Sunshine' (which alternate between 3/4 and 5/4), the verses of 'Good Morning Good Morning' (which maintain a constant beat despite various meters), the verses in 'All You Need Is Love' (which alternate between 4/4 and 3/4), and 'Two Of Us' (which is mostly in 4/4 but occasionally implements 3/4 and 2/4 measures) all employ metronomic drumming through metrically varying and/or ambiguous passages.
The majority of Ringos' metronomic drumming patters, however, are found in metrically consistent passages. Just as he did through the changing meters of 'Good Day Sunshine', Ringo also hits the snare drum on every beat of the bridges of the always-common-time 'All My Loving'.
Similarly, he hits the snare and bass together on every quarter note in the refrains and bridges of 'We Can Work It Out', in the first transition in 'Birthday' (the part where everything else drops out and it's just drums), and in the bridge of 'I've Got A Feeling'.
He strikes the snare on every quarter note and the bass on every eighth note in the bridges of 'No Reply', in the choruses of 'Hey Bulldog', and in the bridges of 'Sexy Sadie'.
And throughout 'Old Brown Shoe' and in the 'Rocky Raccoon' solos (and elsewhere) he alternates eighth notes between the bass and snare.
While the loose definition of the metronomic beat is that every beat is the same, that's not always accurate. Sometimes that concept is expanded to encapsulate more than just one beat. In the bridges of 'Hold Me Tight', for instance, it's a two-beat pattern: beats 1 + 2 are identical to beats 3 + 4.
This 1 + 2 = 3 + 4 metronomic beat pattern can also be found in the opening two phrases of each verse in 'Money (That's What I Want)', and in others.
Most Beatles music is in duple or quadruple meter (divisible by two), but some is in triple (divisible by three). The metronomic concepts apply equally in such instances. The second part of the bridges in 'She Said She Said', for example, maintains a 3/4 meter, throughout which Ringo maintains a metronomic beat through constant quarter notes in the bass and constant eighth notes in the snare.
'Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)' employs two different metronomic beats, both in 6/8. In every third and fourth measure of the first bridge, the bass articulates a syncopated duple division of the triple meter. And in the second bridge, a 1 |2 |3& pattern between the bass and cymbals is maintained.
The waltz bridges in 'Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite!' put the bass drum on beat 1 and answers that with hi-hat hits on 2 and 3, making the pattern 3 beats long (instead of 1 or 2 beats long, as illustrated above).
Similarly, the verses and pre-choruses in 'Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds' both use metronomic beats in 3/4 time. The verse pattern lasts 3 beats; the pre-chorus pattern lasts 1.
Metronomic beats are quite common in Beatles music. Of the 211 tracks they officially recorded and released between 1963-70, 71 of them (33.6%) feature metronomic drumming. So while the above is not an exhaustive list and catalog of Ringo's metronomic drumming patterns (I've cited 20 examples, but there are 51 more), it should give a clear idea of what they are and how they work.
Meanwhile, I continue my mini tour tomorrow:
Tuesday, 12 July 2016, 7:30-8:30 p.m.
Montauk Library, 871 Montauk Hwy, Montauk, NY
The Beatles: Band of the Sixties
Explore the music of The Beatles in this 60-minute multimedia presentation (part history and part musical analysis) spanning the full 1960's: beginning with the band's seminal visits to Hamburg, continuing through Beatlemania, and concluding with Abbey Road. The program will be supplemented with audio clips of music and excerpts from interviews with the band members.
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This blog is a workshop for developing my analyses of The Beatles' music.