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Using a rhythmic seed in Moving Away

Tunde and Eugene

Growing a rhythmic seed into a song

WHEN SOUNDJUNCTION asked three composers – David Horne, Jason Yarde and Tunde Jegede – to write pieces of music, the only musical starting point we gave them was a single rhythm. The rest was up to them.

Seed rhythm

Here’s the rhythm. The challenge was to see what each composer would produce, based on this rhythm or using it in some way.

Moving Away, bars 1-25

And here’s Tunde’s finished song. Can you hear the same rhythm? It features all the way through the song, in various of the different instruments.

But when he came up with the first ideas for Moving Away, Tunde was in fact using the rhythm in a different, indirect way. Instead of simply inventing a melody, for example, that used exactly the same ‘seed’ rhythm, he took the distinctive feel of the seed rhythm and used it to come up with the bass line.

Open QuoteWhen I hear rhythm I hear bassClose Quote

Tunde Jegede

Tunde explains this, and how for him the relationship between bass and percussion is so fundamental.

The Keskidee community centre in north London spawned numerous talented black musicians, authors, poets and playwrights in the 1970s. Tunde spent much time there in his youth, hearing the musical influences of Linton Kwesi Johnson and Bob Marley, among others.

What he’s describing is the very close relationship between bass and percussion. So close in fact that one can imply the other – music in the rhythm inspires the bass line. The bass line then becomes the foundation of the song.

Bars 1-12

In this clip, with the original seed rhythm playing together with the bass line from Moving Away, you can hear how they fit together. So, in a way, the seed rhythm in Moving Away is the silent influence at the root of the song. It gave birth to the bass line, and the bass line is at the root of everything else, even though the rhythm is only ‘implied’ in the bass line – you can’t hear it directly.

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