Saturday, February 19, 2022

Trips along softly on the tongue this way...

As always, one odd blog project (bloject?) breeds another. So it is that only days after thinking about the elegant syncopations in "Why it's good old reliable NAAAthan, NAthan, NAthan, NAthan Detroit," my middle school music class had made it to the "Gary, Indiana" scene in The Music Man

Well, just as Frank Loesser delights in placing "Nathan" on various parts of the meter, Meredith Wilson literally describes his own metrical play as a series of "elegant syncopations" within the lyrics themselves. The idea is the same, though at a gentler pace. 

Here's how I distorted Nathan, with Nathan starting in four different places within the 2/4 meter:

In the middle of "Gary, Indiana," (a part not included here), Harold Hill sings: "If you'd like to have a logical explanation / how I happened on this elegant syncopation." You can see the syncopations below. The first "Gary" is on beat 1, the second on beat 4, and the third on beat 3. 

The logical, elegant extension of this idea would be to add one more "Gary, Indiana" starting on beat 2, and then the cycle can repeat itself for as long as desired. (My new little melodic phrase is shown in red. Would be nice to end it on A-sharp to keep everything stepwise, but that was trickier than I'd hoped.)

As with the "Nathan Detroit" post before, a lot of the appeal of projects like this is finding a way to re-mix the original multimedia. In this case, I found that Harold doesn't sing many of the notes in red on the correct pitches, so a little pitch-shifting wizardry was required (partly why the A-sharp was tricky to achieve), and then loop/syncing the video is its own challenge. Unlike the unpredictable Nathans, in this case I simply prepared one long video for your enjoyment:

Incidentally, because I needed to have a version of the video going backwards, I ended up with this odd half-Scandanavian version of the song - which also happens to bring out the "rag" in "Gary":

Still haven't finished (or started!) this week's fugue though, so enough about this.

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