Adrien Pellerin

Adrien Pellerin

Somewhere between a Software Engineer and a Comedian

Britney Spears is using Tuplets??

3 years ago

You know, it’s not every day you hear tuplets in pop music. But I’ve found myself whistling the hook of Britney Spears’s new song, Till The World Ends┬ánumerous times of late.

Wow, that’s embarrassing. But I will redeem myself by claiming that the only reason it gets stuck in my head is because it’s so rhythmically complex (by pop standards). By essentially evenly dividing 4 notes evenly across 3 beats, Britney (or rather, the writers of the song) created a pretty compelling polyrhythm unlike anything we’ve heard in pop music before.

Ok, so I might have lied a bit in the title. There are technically two ways you could notate this rhythm, the easier of which does not involve tuplets, but a series of dotted eighth notes:

However, when I initially heard the rhythm, I intuitively interpreted it as a tuplet. When you try to cram a certain number of notes into a different number of beats, that screams tuplet in my mind. The funny thing is, it took me a while to figure out exactly what the ratio of notes was. Once you hear the song, it’s super easy to sing the rhythm, but breaking it down takes a little bit of time.

So when I found that she was putting 4 notes into 3 beats, I fired up Sibelius to try to notate it. The problem ended up being that in Sibelius you can’t easily spread a tuplet over a bar line. And that’s what this rhythm would require if it was written in 4/4. As you can see in the music above, the rhythm is split across the second bar line when she sings “no more.”

So to kind of cheat the system, I changed it to 8/4 time, which is not the time signature of this piece, but it allowed me to notate it. So here it is:

Check out the polyrhythm here:

So while I was reading up on this song, I stumbled upon the writers of the song. Guess what. Ke$ha is one of the writers. Weird.

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