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Rhythm and melody: Hemsworth “Log Driver’s Waltz”

One of the most essential elements of music is rhythm, which is the pattern of longs, shorts, and silences. This pattern can repeat or vary from phrase to phrase. Rhythm is connected by the steady beat or underlying pulse that is consistent and doesn’t change. The beat is the part that we tap our toes to or count along with.

“Log Driver’s Waltz” by Wade Hemsworth is a classic Canadian song in 3/4 or waltz time, which means that we count three beats per measure of music like so: “1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3.” In a waltz, beat one is the strongest beat and is usually played by the lowest-sounding instruments in the ensemble. In this case, listen for the first beat played by the bass drum, tuba, and double basses.

We can also hear other rhythmic layers, which add interest and complete the sonic structure. The melody uses a great variety of long and short notes as well as silences between phrases. In this arrangement, the melody is mostly sung by the vocal soloist. Filling the in-between space with a more repetitive rhythm is the accompaniment played by the woodwind section.

Use the Melody Tracker below to follow the principal line or melody. As you listen, see if you can count or tap your toe along with the steady beat, hear the moving rhythmic accompaniment, and perhaps even sing along with the lilting melody sung by Heather Bambrick!

Recorded live at Roy Thomson Hall on June 10, 2017, by conductor Lucas Waldin and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.