Formal Analysis Of The Way Up


Full Formal Analysis Coming soon

Below is a sample:

The passage 12 minutes into “Part One” represents stratified ostinato time signature “layers” superimposed upon one another, as opposed to just “one” time signature per se. This is a device often used by Stravinsky and also later by Don Ellis (the rhythmic genius and jazz legend that I wrote my doctoral dissertation on).

The ambient mallets/ocarina voice that opens the passage is actually in a repeating 9/8, subdivided 2232. The next voice to enter is Metheny who presents 15/8, subdivided 232 2222 (this 15/8 is noticeably effective, as the ear tends to perceive this pattern as a syncopated 4/4 until the ear “realizes” that there is no synchronized downbeat with 4/4 like 16/8 would).

The next two voice entrances are by Lyle and Metheny (this 2nd guitar voice is probably Nando Lauria live) are more conventional in nature, but over the backdrop of the previous two additive patterns, sound quite sophisticated. More specifically, Lyle enters repeating a 6/4 pattern, subdivided 222. The time signature inference is subtle, but careful listening will reveal a subtle agogic stress by Lyle on the first of each of his six beat groupings, suggesting the 6/4. Metheny’s 2nd guitar voice enters soon after in a simple 2/4 pattern, however, it is syncopated (offset one eighth-note) against Lyle’s 3 groupings of 2 beats per measure. VERY cool.

Robdy and Sanchez confirm the ultimate “destination” meter of 15/8, subdivided 322 2222 – note the slight change from the 15/8 subdivision pattern in Metheny’s 1st guitar voice subdivision – however the beginning of the new 15/8 does NOT elide (synchronize downbeats) perfectly with the previous 15/8. Also, VERY cool layering effect.

Bottom line is that there are a total of 5 discrete entrances which create stratified layers, each entrance/layer assigned a different meter to superimpose over the preceding entrance(s). It’s like laying bricks made of mutually exclusive rhythmic construction (the steady eighth note pulse remaining the only common denominator) for a cosmic ethereal effect. From an analytical level, what does 15/8 (subdivided two different ways) have to do with 6/4 or 2/4 or syncopation? Nothing. It’s pure ad hoc creativity from the composers with no formal system driving it, per se. Some of the most dramatic moments in Stravinsky’s Le Sacre du Printemps utilizes a similar approach.

Technically speaking, there is probably only ONE single time signature associated with this passage in the score (I haven’t seen the score yet — it’s still on back order), but that is just the reality of deal with music notation challenges – the need to create a baseline for notation purposes. But, undoubtedly, these entrances were conceived as separate entrances and separate meters.

The “repeat” passage at 20 minutes does away with the stratified layers, and sticks to the 15/8, subdivided 322 2222.