Musician Struggles To Explain 5/4 Time Signature To Girlfriend
Evan Dolmer, bassist for local avant-jazz band Unexpected Corn, expressed frustration and confusion after attempting fruitlessly to explain to girlfriend Gina Wagner the significance of the 5/4 time signature.
After a half-hour exegesis on basic rhythmic theory, Dolmer says he was reluctantly forced to change the subject to what the couple would do this summer -- plans that assuredly will not include playing music in 5/4.
Analysts such as Bob Gressley, another member of Unexpected Corn, speculate that the fatal flaw in Dolmer's description was the assumption that Wagner knew or cared about the concepts of "beat" and "measure".
"The part of the conversation I heard was pretty excruciating," said Gressley. "Gina, bless her heart, just could not fathom the beauty of the complex time signature, especially versus the simple and the compound signatures."
"I couldn't take anymore," continued Gressley, "when it became clear that she didn't know that 'the beat' is actually a more technical thing than 'what makes the song sound good or not'. I had to leave. I was sick."
Despite Dolmer's patient exposition, in which he explained that the "5" in 5/4 represents how many beats are played in each measure -- in this case, five -- and the "4" means that a quarter note gets one beat, Wagner continued nodding her head in obvious non-understanding until she was able to steer the conversation to the couple's weekend restaurant reservations.
"It was really cute, him trying to explain this weird musician terminology," said Wagner. "The whole thing really didn't make a lot of sense to me, especially because he kept mispronouncing the Dave Matthews Band, calling it the Dave Brubeck Quartet. But still, I appreciate him trying to make me a part of his world. And I really can't wait for dinner at [classy restaurant] Green Zebra, I hear it's great."
Said Dolmer about his attempts: "It's a pretty easy concept: most Western pop songs go ONE-two-three-four, ONE-two-three-four, or ONE-two-three, ONE-two-three, ONE-two-three; 5/4 just goes, ONE-two-three-four-five, ONE-two-three-four-five. Just imagine a Bulgarian dance and you've pretty much got it."
"It's as simple as that," he said.
Dolmer explained that further attempts to enlighten his significant other of the finer points of jazz music have been similarly unfructifying, though he admits failing to fully comprehend the things his girlfriend finds important.
"It's not that I don't like watching TV with her, it's just that I usually have band practice when 'Lost' is on," said Dolmer, "Plus, I missed the finale -- we don't have Tivo -- so she spent three hours trying to explain how it wrapped things up that I didn't understand to begin with. I suppose that discovering the identity of The Man in Black is as interesting to her as chord inversions and Dorian scales are to me, but if you ask me, that show made no sense."
While Dolmer has since abandoned the notion of conveying an understanding of unusual -- or even ordinary -- time signatures, beat patterns and jazz scales, he allegedly continues to impart on Wagner the wisdom necessary to understand why her favorite band, U2, are really just a bunch of hacks.