More Information About the Rock Beat

I have read that the Beatles said that the name Beatles intentionally has within it the spelling of the word beat. They sang a song, written by Chuck Berry, called “Rock and Roll Music.” In the chorus John Lennon sang about rock and roll music and that, “its got a back beat…” This is part of a series of articles investigating the rock-n-roll backbeat.

There is an old book from 1970, entitled “The Enjoyment of Music,” in which Joseph Machlis covered the musical subject of rhythm. He explained that a song, in its rhythm, usually has “accented or strong beats” among the regular beats. He wrote that syncopation (a term for the rock beat) is a “deliberate upsetting of the normal accent” where “the accent is shifted to the weak beat of off-beat.” Hence, the term back beat. Rock musicians and drummers know that this is true.

Michael Jackson has been on our minds off and on recently. A short newspaper article, dated February 11, 1993, was circulated by the Associated Press. It was from an exclusive interview that Oprah had with Michael. The article covers two subjects: his skin color changes and the grabbing of his private parts while singing and dancing in his concerts. The response he gave to Oprah, about why he did that, would have taken me by surprise if I had not seen what many other rock and rollers said, too. He said that the beat had a “subliminal” effect on him, that he was “a slave to the beat,” implying that he could not help himself. That was quite a statement if you are thinking about the beat itself.