I love meter. Regular, irregular, fractioned – you name it. Meters impose a multileveled structure to the passage of time in which moments can relate to groupings, groupings to phrases, phrases to structure.
But sometimes music likes to proceed without this kind of imposed structure, and when it does, I’m perfectly happy to show meter the door.
On my new Naxos disk, Spring passing that is a good illustration of this flexibility when it comes to meter. The piece is for violin and marimba. Sometimes the two instruments are metered and sometimes they read graphic notation with the passage of time indicated by evenly-placed wedges representing seconds. And then there are passages where one instrument is metered while the other is not, in which case the unmetered instrument plays off of the metered instrument, as if responding to cues.
Here’s an excerpt from Spring passing, about 3.5 minutes worth. One of the challenges for the performer is to switch in and out of meter without any change in expression, without indicating to the listener that the notation system has changed. You’ll hear the musicians – Danielle Belén and Stan Muncy – rise to the challenge. It’s a beautiful performance: they switch back and forth from metric to spatial notation, and never draw attention away from the gorgeous sounds they are making, the intertwining timbres.
Danielle is playing a second in a series of CD release events on a recital this Saturday in Three Rivers, CA. Info here.