To drop beats in music

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creosote

Senior Member
Russian
Hello, everybody,

What does the part in bold in the following scene mean? Harry slowed the tempo down, skipped part of the piece, paused for the duration of four beats?

"Hooker stands in the wings holding the flowers and champagne, watching his date for the evening, a 6'3" stripper named Crystal, do her routine. Crystal finishes up and comes off the stage.

- For Christ's sake, did you hear that? Harry drops four beats in the middle of my goddamn routine! How long do I have to put up with that?"


Source: The Sting 1973 movie
 
  • Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Hello, everybody,

    What does the part in bold in the following scene mean? Harry slowed the tempo down, skipped part of the piece, paused for the duration of four beats?

    "Hooker stands in the wings holding the flowers and champagne, watching his date for the evening, a 6'3" stripper named Crystal, do her routine. Crystal finishes up and comes off the stage.

    - For Christ's sake, did you hear that? Harry drops four beats in the middle of my goddamn routine! How long do I have to put up with that?"


    Source: The Sting 1973 movie
    Harry doesn't necessarily slow down the tempo, but he misses beats here and there. That means he plays only part of a bar - three beats instead of four, for instance. Poor players often do this when playing with other people, because they have the tempo of the other musicians or, in this case, of the dance, imposed upon them. When they come to a difficult passage, instead of slowing down to negotiate it, as they might when playing solo, they skip a beat to try to keep up.

    Of course skipping a beat can mean they get out of sync with the other players, or, as here, with the dancer, for bars have patterns of accentuation, and missing a beat would often mean starting to play in a way which puts the stresses in the wrong places for the dancer.

    No wonder Crystal is cross.
     
    Last edited:

    MattiasNYC

    Senior Member
    Swedish
    It's more likely that it means that beats were completely absent, rather than that the tempo was slowed down. Also, seeing that most music in the west has four beats per bar it seems pretty probable that a whole bar was missed which as Thomas pointed out would mean that the wrong emphasis wouldn't necessarily happen.
     
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