Although I’m a decent enough musician, with a well-trained ear for tone and rhythm, my brain always gets tied in knots when I hear the intros to certain songs. In these intros, which are usually more like pre-intros, some variation or element of the main intro is played, but starting on an odd beat.
I think the best way to explain this is with a few examples. Here are a few songs that spring to mind:
- Origami – Capital Cities
- Sparkle – Phish
- Broken, Beat and Scarred – Metallica
I know there are tons of other good examples out there, but these are the only ones I can think of at the moment. In all instances, even after hearing these songs dozens of times, my brain simply refuses to hear the opening bars in the correct time. I always hear these pre-intros as though starting on the first beat of the bar, with the main intro then cutting in at an odd time.
The messed up count quickly resolves in my head once the main intro begins, but I always have to do a bit of mental gymnastics to make it all fit together. I’ve even performed that Metallica tune on guitar with other musicians (who don’t seem to have the same counting problem, incidentally), without losing time, but only by hacking up the count in my head, if that makes any sense.
So, does anyone else out there experience this? Is there a word for it? If not, I might suggest “tro-in”, which offsets the syllables in the word “intro”, just as the beat is offset in a tro-in.
I don’t know those songs but I know what you mean. Some waltzes and marches do the same thing in my ears. Even though I know what’s coming, I sometimes have to hear a full ‘stanza’ before I can resolve the main beat.
Back in the ’50s there was a novelty song that took this effect to an extreme. It was the familiar Take Me Out to the Ball Game, with a short instrumental intro as you’d expect …. but the singers started two notes early, and continued through the song with the words two beats ahead of the proper location. The recording seems to be completely forgotten; haven’t found it on Youtube or anywhere.
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