Classical Tyro

A Beginner's Guide to Great Music

Brubeck, "Blue Rondo à la Turk" (1959)


In 1958, the jazz pianist and composer
Dave Brubeck was touring the Middle East when he heard a Turkish folk tune that repeated a rhythmic pattern divided into beats of 2 + 2 + 2 + 3 + 9. Brubeck later recast that Turkish music into a jazz tune titled "Blue Rondo à la Turk," a piece of music that serves as a great example of what can be done with odd meter in jazz. The Dave Brubeck Quartet first recorded the piece in 1959 for their ground-breaking album Time Out.

The rhythm of "Blue Rondo à la Turk" is organized into groups of nine beats, but it is the subdivision of the nine beats that makes the piece so fascinating. At the beginning of the tune, the nine beats are subdivided as
2 + 2 + 2 + 3. This subdivision is then repeated three times before switching to a subdivision of 3 + 3 + 3, which is only played once before switching back to 2 + 2 + 2 + 3. This pattern repeats itself several times before leading into an extended section of improvisation without the Turkish rhythms, which do make a reappearance at the end to wrap things up.

Whew! I wish you the best of luck at keeping up with what happens rhythmically, and I hope I have described it clearly and accurately.


Dave Brubeck Quartet


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Bach, Organ Fugue in C minor, BWV 546 (c. 1717)


For the students in the
WILL program at WNMU who attended my recent class on Bach, here's the latest animated graphical score from Stephen Malinowski and his Music Animation Machine.

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Evelyn Glennie: Teaching the World to Listen


"My aim really is to teach the world to listen. That is my only real aim in life."
– Dame Evelyn Glennie

According to
Evelyn Glennie's biographical information on her Facebook page, she is "the first person in history to successfully create and sustain a full-time career as a solo percussionist." What her Facebook bio does not mention is that she has been profoundly deaf since she was twelve years old. She claims to hear with parts of her body other than her ears and performs barefoot to help feel the music. In this TED talk from 2003, Glennie not only provides a great musical performance (beginning at 27:15), she also offers a new and more mindful way of listening to music. As a bonus to the TED talk, I have embedded a video of Glennie performing Piazzola's Libertango.


Evelyn Glennin, TED Talk, February 2003


Astor Piazzola, Libertango, perfromed by Evelyn Glennie
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