Time changes

Last night, I griped to my Patient Husband that I keep getting the second movement of Beethoven’s Ninth running through my head, the part they call the sylvan sprite dance. (Well, some people call it that.)

“And,” I added, “the place where he changes from four-four time to three-four time.”

Kiddo#1 reacted as if I’d said, “The place where Beethoven has the concert master poke the conductor in the eye with his bow.”

“Why would he DO that?” he asked.

“Because it sounds cool?” I said.

Kiddo#1 kept asking about it. It was, to him, a beginning musician, incomprehensible that you can change the time signature of a piece of music. Faster and slower, yes. But to change the number of beats per measure…? Inconceivable.

I pulled up iTunes and played that section for him (thus cementing it in my head — two days later and the thing is still earworming me) and tried to count out the beats for him. And then he got it.

A friend used to teach piano, and she said a lot of kids couldn’t clap to a rhythm and then change that rhythm. one-two-three-four, one-two-three-four, one-two-three, one-two-three… It never even occurred to me that this was a skill. I guess after years in choir, I’d seen enough places where everything was changed for some random effect that it no longer phases me.

Poor Kiddo#1. The world doesn’t work the way he thought it does. But really, it’s a pretty cool place because sometimes there are rules you can break if you know what you’re doing.