The 'One' illusion

Merlin5

Gold Member
As you listen to the start of a song, you start counting from 1, but then it throws a curveball at you and 1 is not where you thought! I find these musical illusions, intentional or not, quite fun and interesting. :D

This one threw me when I first heard it years ago.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aej5YiWW4Q8

My brain interpreted the opening solo guitar pattern as a sequence of triplets like 1 triplet 2 triplet 3 triplet 4 triplet. Until however the drums came in and suddenly the true rhythm and counting became apparent as there was now something to reference the guitar against. So it's a syncopated sequence of broken 1/16ths going across the bars, and the very first note played isn't 1 but the 'e' after 1. Very cleverly done.

Can you think of a song that creates the 'One' illusion, as I like to call it? Or in Gavin Harrison terms, rhythmic illusion. :)
 

Alain Rieder

Silver Member
I was going to mention this one song, before I clicked on your link, but I know a few others.
Yellowjackets "Top Secret" was on the list of songs I was bringing to clinics 25 years ago.
 
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Alain Rieder

Silver Member
This composition from Michel Camilo, Mongo's Blues, is a little more tricky.
It seems to start in 3 but it is in 4 (12/8, latin).
The piano left hand outlines displaced half notes (there's three half notes in 12/8). Listening to the clave pattern can help, if you're familiar with it already.

And yes it is a Blues, as the name indicates.

https://youtu.be/X2DS6a3lbfk

The first pattern is the basic rhythm of the piano's left hand.
The second pattern is the clave.
 

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Merlin5

Gold Member
Good one. Starts on beat 2. But had to wait for the drums to come in to know that.



Hah yeah, Carwash, great example. Also starts beat 2.
Never heard that Solitude Standing before. Took me several listens before I could feel where 1 is at the start. I get it now but still a bit thrown off until the end of the second bar. Another very good example!




This composition from Michel Camilo, Mongo's Blues, is a little more tricky.
It seems to start in 3 but it is in 4 (12/8, latin).
The piano left hand outlines displaced half notes (there's three half notes in 12/8). Listening to the clave pattern can help, if you're familiar with it already.

And yes it is a Blues, as the name indicates.

https://youtu.be/X2DS6a3lbfk

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Wow! This is really tricky. I get it from 1:16 everytime, but going back to the beginning I'm just not hearing it yet. That piano left hand is really throwing me! Going to take me a few listens. Excellent example. Cliff Almond on drums? I know he worked with Camilo after Weckl.
 

Merlin5

Gold Member
That's Horacio Hernandez !
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That makes more sense, he's the Latin drummer's drummer!
Thanks for adding the clave pattern, I'll have a few listens.


I know this tune very well, great song. But have only ever heard it live with Steve Ferrone and they segued into it with the drums in immediately. But listening to the studio version, it starts just with bass and wah guitar (or could be keyboard). Took me a few listens to hear it starts on the '+' of 4. Another good one!

Here's another

https://youtu.be/LfeNhwnO8hw
 
J

JohnoWorld

Guest
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0S3owK3pN64

Start listening about 10:30

Classic ambient tunes by Woob - follow the original loop and as the main drums fade in, it's a challenge to stay with the original loop as the snare appears to be at the end of the bar. If you stop listening and start again, you get the right start point (snare on 2&4), but if you try and get what you heard first, you will fail.

PS quite a long listen
 

Merlin5

Gold Member
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0S3owK3pN64

Start listening about 10:30

Classic ambient tunes by Woob - follow the original loop and as the main drums fade in, it's a challenge to stay with the original loop as the snare appears to be at the end of the bar. If you stop listening and start again, you get the right start point (snare on 2&4), but if you try and get what you heard first, you will fail.

PS quite a long listen
That's a goodun! And I failed! But I've got it now. Before the snare came in, I was hearing the percussion as I, 2, 3, 4 when it's actually on all the 'and's. I was hearing the upbeats as downbeats, lol. When the bass line came in, I was hearing it either in the middle or end of each bar, but it's actually just '1e+a 2'. Once I realised that, I knew that the first snare would come in with the last note of the bass riff. Brain**** for sure. :D
 
J

JohnoWorld

Guest
That's a goodun! And I failed! But I've got it now. Before the snare came in, I was hearing the percussion as I, 2, 3, 4 when it's actually on all the 'and's. I was hearing the upbeats as downbeats, lol. When the bass line came in, I was hearing it either in the middle or end of each bar, but it's actually just '1e+a 2'. Once I realised that, I knew that the first snare would come in with the last note of the bass riff. Brain**** for sure. :D
hehe, indeed, I remember that we used to listen to this towards the end of a "heavy" night, man it killed me first time I heard it.

I think the bass coming in when it does kinda sets it off. Can't ever get it back though. I've tried stopping it and starting again and just can't do it.

Just the way each instrument is brought it bit by bit really play with your mind!
 

Merlin5

Gold Member
Another song that plays with that is "My Machines" by Battles [feat. Gary Numan]


Awesome. Listened about 20 times from the start till when the drums came in. Tried every number from 1 to 4 to figure out what it starts on but yes it does start on 1. But the bass riff really threw me until I heard it with the drums. The bass riff comes in at the end of its repeating riff, on '+4' and I heard it's rhythm a certain way. But when the drums are in, I heard the bass riff rhythm differently and of course correctly, as it actually starts on beat 1. So simple but took me a while to hear it the right way. Very clever.
 

Merlin5

Gold Member
hehe, indeed, I remember that we used to listen to this towards the end of a "heavy" night, man it killed me first time I heard it.

I think the bass coming in when it does kinda sets it off. Can't ever get it back though. I've tried stopping it and starting again and just can't do it.

Just the way each instrument is brought it bit by bit really play with your mind!
After not hearing it for 30 minutes, I listened to it again and nailed it this time, first time, lol. :D

I'm now hearing the percussion correctly as upbeats, as a kind of reggae hi-hat feel on the '+' s. The bass started where I expected it to with its last note on beat 2. Of course, this is only because it's still fresh in my memory. If I didn't hear it again for weeks or months, I'd probably forget and hear it wrong again. Cool tune!
 

Tone Laborer

Senior Member
I've heard this referred to as "turning the beat around" and it is a very hip way to start a song, I've always thought. Difficult to pull off, you don't see many attempt it live. It seems like the most common is drums in on the upbeat then switch to downbeat at some opportune time in the intro, but I'd like to hear from the rhythm experts here. Great thread.

The Eagles use it to good effect in -"Good Day In Hell."

And there was an old Alan Parsons Project song...can't recall the name, but I never could figure exactly how they did it.
 
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Alain Rieder

Silver Member
I would say that, apart from the more tricky polyrhythmic stuff like Yellowjackets Top Secret, or the Michel Camilo example, it is pretty common to start melodies or riffs at different parts of the measure. And to me the clapping from Carwash, alone tends to suggests 2 and 4, but I played that song a few times so I knew it already.

Highway to Hell is another interesting example. I wouldn't listen to it for my own pleasure, but it may be interesting for beginners.
If you didn't know it already, would you guess that it starts on the & of 3?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wTcZq6TSgGE


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lsits

Gold Member
The first one that came to mind was "Rock and Roll" by Led Zeppelin. for the longest time (as in decades) I thought It began on "one". I even taught myself to play it with the wrong counting. It really blew my mind to discover that began on the "and" of three.
 
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