[Dixielandjazz] 2-beat, 4-beat

David W. Littlefield dwlit at cpcug.org
Tue Aug 26 17:18:26 PDT 2003

One thing missing in the discussion, which is focusing on what the
individual rhythm instruments do, is the *feel* of the tune. In deciding
whether a band is playing a tune in 2 or 4-beat, it's the collective pulse
of what all the playerss are doing over the length of the performance
that's the determining factor, by no means necessarily what the individual
rhythm cats do. They'll do change-ups for the sake of variety, dynamics, etc. 

The horns play differently for 4/4 than they do for 2-beat--different
licks, emphases, phrasing, syncopation. Tempos may or may not be the same,
but I bet most experienced band leaders select at least a slightly
different tempo to play a tune 4/4 than they would for 2-beat. One's
physical response to the music is decidedly different--watch the dancers. 

I think of the difference between 4/4 vs. 2-beat as "driving" vs.
"lifting". I find that when I play 2-beat, I solo using banjo licks, but
when I play 4/4, all my solo ideas are for guitar. When playing piano, I
comp very differently.


More information about the Dixielandjazz mailing list