Audio: offset (0:14)

Figure: offset

offset plays two offset variants of the original melodic idea. The first variant is played on a violin in 4/4 meter, the second variant is played an octave lower than scored on a viola in 6/8 meter. The offset figure shows the score:

  • Bar 1: the original melodic idea.
  • Bars 1-2: offset backwards one eighth note with the fourth note doubled in value.
  • Bar 3: offset forwards a quarter note to start on the third note of the original idea.
  • Bars 3-4: offset backwards three eighth notes with the fourth note quadrupled in value.
  • Bars 5-8: the second variant contains exactly the same sequence of notes as the first, the difference is in the rhythm.

Offset is a technique for changing the rhythm of a melody.

Offset can be applied to a whole melody, to a group of notes, or to a single note.

Offsetting a whole melody changes its rhythm but not its duration. Shifting a melody backwards or forwards in time results in different notes becoming accented due to the time shift. The result is a syncopated rhythm.

Offsetting a note means increasing or reducing its duration. This will change the duration of the melody if the rest of the notes in the melody remain unchanged in value. Multiple notes can be offset one against the other to leave the duration of the melody unchanged.

Offset is a simple and effective method for changing the rhythm of a melody. It can be used without changing the sequence of the notes nor their pitch. It can also be used to clarify the rhythm of an initial idea before developing it further.