First Music Lessons
A Tale from Great Grandfather: The Village Mill
In Great Grandfather’s village there was a Watermill. The Village Miller was also the Village Music Master.
The Village Mill ground wheat to make bread or oats to make oatmeal for the villagers. The Mill fascinated Great Grandfather for it had many moving parts. On the outside of the Mill there was a sluice gate and a waterwheel with 24 paddles on an axel that extended through the wall into the interior of the Mill. There, the axel turned wheels with cogs connected to more wheels, all of different sizes. The meshing wheels drove the machinery that turned the stones that ground the grain.
What Great Grandfather liked most about the Village Mill was the way it sounded. All of the paddles, wheels, cogs, ratchets, pinions and other machinery made a constant noise of many different sounds. Even though they were different sounds, they came together to make a continuous and predictable rhythm.
The Master asked, “What do you hear?”
Great Grandfather responded, “I hear: Clang-clang, pop-pop-pop, bang, knock, click-click, grind – Clang-clang, pop-pop-pop, bang, knock, click-click, grind.”
The Master asked, “What shall we call this combination of sounds that make a constant machine rhythm?”
After a moment’s thought, Great Grandfather responded, “Because this combination of sounds is predictable and is the sum of all of the mechanical noises put together, we shall call it a Summation Rhythm.”
The Master continued the inquiry, “In the Mill, the machinery creates the Summation Rhythm. What makes the Summation Rhythm in music?”
Great Grandfather had to think before he grasped the answer. “An Orchestra! The Clangs, Pops, Bangs, Knocks, Clicks, and Grinds shall be instruments. They shall make their entrances and play their notes at different times. But, put all the separate entrances of each note together and they will make a Summation Rhythm.”
The Master smiled. He said, “At the end of the creative process, the listener hears all the sounds as one continuous entity. For the composer, though, the Summation Rhythm is a place of beginning. It is a foundation and tool for creating Counterpoint."