The bar as one, Allegro – Blasco de Nebra.

Published by Paul on

One of the hardest things when explaining time and rhythm to a student is the bar: it’s function other than the  visual structure on the page. What does it do, what does it actually keep together? A number of beats, yes, but what does that “do” when playing the music?

When playing a waltz it becomes quite clear the “1-2-3”, the “oom-pa-pa” is one thing, one entity which we could actually feel and count as “one”, one sway. The bar as one.
Try if you can hear this in my recording of the Allegro in 3/4, the second movement from the C minor sonata by Manuel Blasco de Nebra , the “Spanish Scarlatti”.

The first movement of this Sonata, Adagio, is in the previous blog.

Thinking the notion of the bar as one further two things come to mind: movement and energy. To me in a bar after the first beat  the energy builds up to be released on the first beat of the next bar, then building up again and so on.
Which in my mind makes the bigger part of a bar feel like an upbeat for the next one. Thus creating a wavelike  movement pushing the music ahead.
The wheel keeps turning.
So in 4/4 it would feel more like:    .

Mind you: this is about rhythmic energy not dynamics!

I’m very eager to know what other musicians, both pro’s and laymen, think of this concept: does it sound peculiar or is it a common thing to you?
Please add your comments below!

Apart from trying to play while thinking the bar as one I used this recording to experiment playing with a Soundbrenner Pulse metronome: a big watch which vibrates (like a smartphone) at the set pulse. My tempo was set to 39 for the bar which makes 117 for the crotchet. At some points you may hear a little discomfort in my playing, wanting to speed up or slow down but being held by the Big Watch 😉 .

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August Bekkers
3 years ago

Dear paul, today I took the liberty of comparing your recording with that of Javier Perianes (Harmoni Mundi). His tempo is higher and there is quite some reverb in his sound. But apart from the sound – his approach is using more “free” in this piece: more crescendo/decrescendo, fats/slow – puts his emotions in; a bit romantic. I do not mind this, there is something to say for that isn’t it, but it tends to gets a bit “Pogorelich / Scarlatti”. A matter of taste. The “bar as one” principle is less good to catch in his approach. Your approach… Read more »

August Bekkers
3 years ago

Again a beautiful piece of music, paul. I listened to it, with your instruction “the bar as one” in mind. And YES, together with the slight crescendo often played within a bar, i got it. It works,; gives the pice a boost and character. Like the other folks commenting, I also like the rhytmic “crunching” around 30 sec and again around 1 min 45 sec. A pleaseant surprise – and that is what good music should indeed do; surprise and amaze (like you commented yourself when discussing the Belgium radio station Clara). Your little wrestling game with the Big Watch… Read more »

3 years ago

Mooie uitvoering Paul, ik kende het stuk niet.
Ritmisch inderdaad bijzonder opgebouwd..

Wick Gispen
3 years ago

Het klinkt heerlijk vrij
Verrassend dat tegendraadse ritme
Leuk om eens kennis te maken met de Spaanse Scarlatti

Groet Wick

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