Music education always & always looking forward.

The Beat Blows Around with the Wind: Changing Meter in Neko Case's "Middle Cyclone"

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This song is one of my absolute favorites.  Neko Case is my favorite singer -- you could even say, as others have, that I'm a Neko fangirl.  The meter in this one is wild once you analyze it, but it all seems to flow together very nicely throughout the song.  I hope you enjoy it and that you don't go crazy trying to conduct it like I did for years.

“Middle Cyclone” - Neko Case

Intro: Having put out seven solo albums and six as a member of The New Pornographers, Neko Case has built up a steady fan base and critical reputation since her first release in 1998. This song is the title track of Case's 2009 album, which debuted on the Billboard charts at #3. Multiple media outlets, including, proclaimed it the best album of that year. Middle Cyclone was Case's fifth solo album of original material.

Analysis: The song makes use of multiple time signatures throughout. Meters change rapidly whenever Case is singing lyrics, accompanied only by an acoustic guitar.   The meter of the song changes between asymmetrical simple meter and symmetrical compound meter.  She makes use of 5/4, 3/4, 6/8, and 7/4 meters in the song, most reliably returning to 5/4. The only other instrument heard on this song aside from the guitar is a sort of music box chime, playing a melody in 5/4 time, and creating a rhythmic motif for the song.

Considerations for Teaching: The lyrics of this song are generally sentimental, reflective, and contain no offensive material or profanity.

Classic Teaching Example: Direct Modulation and Descending Major Sixth in Michael Jackson's "Man in the Mirror"

An Often-Unheard Interval as a Hook: Ascending Minor Sixth in fun.'s (feat. Janelle Monae) "We Are Young"