Samuel Hällkvist Variety of

Here I’ll try to explain the ground structures and preparations for the Variety of Rhythm suite, which you can listen to over at the specimen departement. The basic figures for this suite came up while playing around with the guitar and a looper, which was a new approach for me – I usually work with a music notation program and perhaps a calculator when I write music.
Please note that the video clips presented here were made for documentation purpose only.

Tete-a-Tete / Blivet:

The whole piece is inspired by the idea of cognitive illusions. I wanted to achieve the optic illusional effect with sounds instead of visuals, using polyrhythms and polymeters as tools to add different layers and aspects to the music.
In the clip below I started loop 1 as a 10 beat long phrase – or 2 bars of 5/4. Loop 2 is 3x the first loops length, which gives me 30 beats – 10 bars of 3/4. And then 5 bars of 4/4 (with dotted quarter notes) along with the 3/4, which basically means that you get two different tempos when the loops are played separately. This part came to be the structure for the A and B parts for the ‘Blivet’.

So we have:
6x 5/4 = 30♩
10x 3/4 = 30♩
5x 4/4 (♩.) = 30♩

then comes this cycle of 42 beats, a rhythm I’ve been thinking of for a long time:
I wanted to develop this figure to get a more elastic feel, so I grouped the dotted quarter notes (the lower voice) in 4. As you see it is still 42 beats long – or 6 bars of 7/4.
What I did then was to stretch out the lower voice into a longer, or slower 4/4 meter like this:
so now we get a cycle of 84 beats instead. The last picture below illustrates the new slow 4/4 during the 7/4 riff.
you can also turn it upside down and call it a 28 beat cycle in 4/4 (or 56 beats in double tempo) instead of 84 in 7/4.
This cycle works as C and D parts for this piece.

same rhythmic cycle, but with a slightly different approach:

and the E part:
loop 1 is 7 beats long
loop 2 is 3x the length of loop 1, which makes it 21 beats. In this case as 7 bars of 3/4 with dotted quarter notes all the way around:

as you will notice, the Tete-a-Tete/ Blivet piece appears twice in the suite using the exact same recordings – except for the fact that the drums play one take in 100 BPM, and the other one in 66,6667 BPM which gives us dotted quarter notes in relation to the 100 BPM pulse (just take away one 3rd of the original tempo and you’ll get the dotted tempo). When all parts were somehow arranged and ready to be played, I realised that this piece had to be a one-by-one recording. The violin was the first instrument to be recorded, and a few weeks later the guitar parts were added. After that I sent it off to bass, keys, vocals and drums at last. For me as a bandleader, it has always been important to let every musician interpret the material freely – even very freely – and I don’t like to interfere with the different inputs during their work, simply because I want to bring a personal, and definitely unexpected flavour to my quite mathematic material.

Double Adagio:

a 21 beat loop starting with 7 3/4 bars (could also be a slow 7/4 with triplet subdivision). then 6 7/8 joins in both 3+4 and 4+3 figures, then back and forth between the two different layers (loop 1 & 2).

The 7×3 / 3×7 figure developed into the ‘Double Adagio’; a 3-section piece, where this rhythmic structure is constant but moves through three different keys. In the studio we first recorded vibraphone (all the written parts) and then drums. The drums switches between 7 bars of 3/4 and 3 bars of 7/4. After having the recordings on hold for a few months,  the bass line was added in Gothenburg, and keyboards in Paris.

The title of this piece simply came from the tempo. Since its 70 BPM you could also call it adagio – but considering the many roles and parts indicating the double tempo (140 / allegro). I chose to call it ‘Double Adagio’.

The Necker Cube:

while the ‘Tete-a-Tete / Blivet’ piece was based on the relation between the quarter- / dotted quarter notes, the Necker Cube operates between quarter notes and triplets. It was being recorded in 110 BPM and triplet tempo 165 BPM – add the half of the first tempo and you’ll get the triplet tempo.

6 bars of 4/4 loop:
8x 3/4
and quarter note triplets in groups of 4 – each riff is 8 beats, which gives 3 (8×3=24) riffs to get back to 1.

the B part. First I drew out 5 bars of 4/4 like this. The lower voice is just quarter note triplets all the way:
Secondly, I grouped the quarter notes in 5 for the upper voice, so we have 4 bars of 5/4 instead:
then the second beat of each bar is accentuated so we don’t loose the 4/4 (it could have been any beat of the bar, but I liked the sound of the 2nd in this case):3b
and at last the triplets in the lower voice is being grouped in 5, which gives us 6 bars of 5/4 in the triplet tempo:
in other words – 20 beats: loop of 5 bars in 4/4, or 4 bars in 5/4.
also, in loop 2 there are 6 5/4 bars (quarter note triplets in groups of 5).
This is from a very early stage of the Necker Cube B part. The rhythmic structure and the tonality is still there, but otherwise its quite far from how it turned out:

and the 15 beat two-step:

this is one of the many ideas I’ve been working on which didn’t make it to the score. It’s basically a 15 beat figure (7+8) during a 6 beat figure (1 beat every 5th sixteenth note). I’ll have to get back to that one later!

So basically, the Variety of Rhythm suite is built around these three movements:
‘Double Adagio’, ‘Tete-a-Tete / Blivet’ and ‘the Necker Cube’. I also wanted to give contrasts to these rhythmically calculated compositions and added short(er) improvisations to build around (or perhaps the other way around – the fixed pieces could just as well be seen as blocks around the improvs). The first improv is from a recording I did with Paulo Chagas, Silvia Corda and Adriano Orru in Peniche, Portugal:

I picked a tip of the iceberg from this session to use for the suite – it sure wasn’t easy to select what to use since I really enjoyed all of the material.
The second improvs where recorded in Tokyo with Yasuhiro Yoshigaki and Kumiko Takara, and last but not least a solo guitar piece from David Torn in New York.

When I had all the material collected and edited I came up with this schedule, which illustrates the greater form of the piece:

TEAM PORTUGAL (TP): Paulo Chagas, Silvia Corda, Adriano Orru, Samuel Hällkvist
TEAM JAPAN (TJ): Yasuhiro Yoshigaki, Kumiko Takara, Samuel Hällkvist
TEAM JAPAN/SCANDINAVIA/PARIS/ANTWERP (TJSPA): Pete Drungle, Dick Lövgren, Qarin Wikström, Katrine Amsler, YY, KT, SH
TEAM US (TU): David Torn

A1 : TP
trio 1 clip 1: TJ
trio 2 clip 1: TP
huly marga : TU
B1: TP
improv 1 clip 3: TP
A2: TP
B2: TP
C2: TP
trio 1 clip 2: TJ

I hope you enjoy the music!


Valby, Copenhagen, Jan 30 2016

with support from the Swedish Arts Grants Committee