MusicNovatory/Introduction/Reference/Comments and Questions/Rhythm/Level 0 of Two Songs

I can't believe this ! I was examining 2 songs which seemed very similar to me, The Windmills Of Your Mind and El Choclo, and decided to establish Level 0 of each song using the Footsies technique. I found 0+2 for The Windmills and 3+8 for El Choclo. I was not overly surprised with the 3+8 (quite similar to Level 0 of Red River Valley), but the 0+2 (like Level 0 of Twinkle, Twinkle) really threw me for a loop. Do I have the right answer for Level 0? How come it's written in 4/4? Please, help!

You have the correct answer for both of them, and the problem seems to be in how they are written. Any song may be written with the bar-lines (and the time-signature) at any level. We prefer to write bars at Level -1, with a complete bar on the Off-beat and another complete bar on the Beat of each cell of Level 0, the way El Choclo is written. In MusicNovatory, Twinkle, Twinkle is written the same way, at Level -1, with short bars of 2 notes. However, it could also be written at Level 0, with bars twice as long, half-a-bar on the Off-beat (the third and fourth Quarter notes) and half-a-bar on the Beat (the first and second Quarter notes). What Legrand did was to write Windmills, quite correctly, at an even larger level, at Level +1, with three-quarters of the bar (the second, third, and fourth Quarter notes) on the Off-beat and a quarter-bar (the first Quarter note) on the Beat. This way of writing does not in the least change the size of Level 0 at 0+2. I hope that this answers your question, don't hesitate to write back, this is a very pregnant subject.

Thanks for the answer, but I still can't understand why the two tunes sound so similar if there is a difference of two levels in their respective Level 0.

Your question is quite precisely worded. You did not ask why they are so similar but why they "sound" so similar. The reason they sound so similar is in our perception (or more accurately, lack of perception) of their Level 0, which is the first of the large levels where grouping starts. Since we do not, in general, perceive these larger levels clearly we do not feel the 2-level difference very much. However, if you listen closely to Windmills, you will notice how short the breaths are between phrases, like a little puppy gasping after a run. This out-of-breath feeling was probably what Legrand wanted to convey in the music, corresponding to the feeling of the lyrics. On the other hand, the large, elegant, sexy, tango-like sweep of El Choclo is quite different and has far more room to breathe between phrases. BTW, we feel that only a Frenchman, like Legrand, could have written something as "French" as Windmills. The amazing thing as that it is probably the most "French" piece he ever wrote, even if it was composed with English lyrics.

I am starting to feel the difference when I notice the breaths, but I cannot understand what you mean by the "French" sound of Windmills.

The French language has a very unusual rhythm in the scansion of its words. It does not rebound and the accentuation is always on the last syllable of a word, with one single exception, that of the mute "e" which is not pronounced when spoken but only in music lyrics to have at least that possibility of one solitary rebound.

This lack of rebounds produces a very "pick-up" kind of music with small Level 0 and short breaths at the end of the phrases. This is what we find in a song like Twinkle, Twinkle with its 0+2 Level 0, which leads us to believe that it comes from the French song Ah, vous dirai-je maman that is, for all intents and purposes, identical. Windmills falls in this category with its identical 0+2 Level 0.