Space and Timbre

George ClintonI love music, All sorts, I can’t think of any ‘genre’ I don’t like. I have, quite literally 1000′s of CDs and LPs. I’ve been doing a lot of analysing of the various types of music that I really enjoy listening to in order to try and work out ‘why’ I like the music I do.

There are two main components to the many and varied styles of music that I love, space and timbre. Let me explain what I mean, one at a time.

First ‘space’, this could equally be called rhythm although it is in particular about the ‘space’ between the notes. I love funk music because it has some superb rhythms but also has a lot of ‘space’ in it. Listen to ‘Word up’ by Cameo as an example, full of space and yet full of music and feeling.

There are many many ‘classic’ funk artists, Sly Stone, George Clinton and James Brown To name just a few. But far from being dead, many new bands are embracing ‘the funk’. Halagoogoo, Freekbass, The JQ band and many more, but more than this many of the older artists are still going, George Clinton, Bootsy Collins and Larry Graham (the father of slap bass). I love funk.

The other element which is previlant in music I like is ‘timbre’ or ‘tone’. One of my first albums I bought was ‘Tangram’ by Tangerine Dream, it’s full of bright sounds, sounds full of harmonics, sounds not obtainable using any conventional instrument. It was my first exposure to synthesisers and the start of my life long obsession with PPGs. Along with great ‘sounds’ the album is also very rhythmical, not in the same way as funk, but it has a lot interesting rhythm patterns.

From Tangerine Dream it was a short skip and a hop to Klaus Schulze, again superb timbres and sounds, but also a man who plays with rhythm, having tunes that are written in 5/4 and 9/8! I’ve written tunes in 9/8 and 7/8, one of the my more adventurous was 13/16, it’s on one of my ‘early’ tapes, when I find it, I’ll update this blog entry.

What I’d like to do now, is to try and combine the rhythmical/spacial aspects of funk with the rich timbre of electronic music and perhaps some more ‘unusual’ time signatures, it should be an interesting challenge.

For what it’s worth, here’s a short list of ‘essential’ listening for both of these elements.


  • Freekbass – Freekbass 2YK, Hear me play, Merge
  • George Clinton (and associates) – The cabin of my uncle jam, Atomic Dog, Clone Communicado
  • Halagoogoo – Baby snatcher, Brunswinkta
  • James Brown – Hot Pants, Get up (I feel like being a sex machine)
  • Lenney Kravitz – Always on the run (cover of a sly stone tune)
  • Red Hot Chilli Peppers – Jungle Man, Mellowship Slinky in B Major, Give it away, Sir psycho sexy


  • Tangerine Dream – Tangram Part1, Sphinx Lightening, Logos Part1
  • Klaus Schulze – Velvet voyage, Tango Saty (has some great rhythmical phrasing too), Five to four (written in 5/4)
  • Robert Schroeder – In space, Timeless, Back to earth, Computer voice

3 Responses to “Space and Timbre”

  1. Chris Booth Says:

    Dave Brubeck – Take 5?

  2. Paul Says:

    :-) Yes, I missed that one out, Take 5 is indeed written in 5/4.
    Also don’t forget ‘The Unsquare dance’ which is written in 7/8.

  3. rOBERT bAILEY Says:

    Space and Timbre…Yes, the same holds true for me as well.
    All the P-Funk stuff; Parliament, Funkenstein and Brides of Fukenstein especially had me “hoppin.” They were explorers of fresh electronic textures that were always full of fun and mischief too.
    If you ain’t dancing by the third measure, you might want to check your pulse. Without space, sorry no place to invite the soul, the space between the rhythms, is what invites participation, the space between the timbres is what helps defines the emotional accessibility, the rhythm provides the backbone and structure for the “sand” box to play in.
    Timbre for me, has always been about the exciting discovery of the contrapuntal play of the micro-tonal “dance” playing in that space you invite others to particpate in. Especially common with electronic music, Tangerine Dream, always invited that participation as well, especially with the sequencers providing the rhythmic backbone and structure.
    The space is just important as the substance, ask any sculpturer.
    Sorry for the long post, but the topic strkes a “chord” with me as well…Cheers!