“Horizon” Drum Transcription — Yoshinori Fukui with Ryo Fukui

Posted on June 11, 2023


I’m kind of surprised I’ve waited as long as I have to talk about this one: “Horizon” by Ryo Fukui, with Yoshinori Fukui on the drums.

I first wrote about Ryo back in 2020, in the earlier days of my website. For some time, that article was the most popular thing I had done with my blog, so let’s go ahead and revisit Ryo; there’s clearly an audience for it!

“Horizon” comes from Ryo’s 1977 album Mellow Dream — for some time, Mellow Dream and the earlier release Scenery were the only Ryo Fukui albums that you could easily stream. Someone must have gotten gip to Ryo’s 21st–century popularity because now it looks like his entire catalog got added to the streaming sites since I last wrote about him.

While Scenery had only one original Ryo composition, Mellow Dream has three: the title track, “Baron Potato Blues”, and today’s song “Horizon”. Just like last time, we’ll be talking about an extended drum solo from Yoshi.

“Horizon” is a bright Latin tune, although fishing out a genre more specific than that is tough. The prominent style for me would be some sort of samba. As such, I notated the drum solo in cut time, because, for some reason, Latin = 2/2.

I wrote about this topic back when I charted “Tank!” from Cowboy Bebop, and I still don’t really know why Latin is almost always in cut time — some people say it has to do with dancing, while others think it’s easier to conceptualize the phrasing of Latin rhythms in 2/2.

Personally, I rarely find cut time useful. In fact, throughout high school, college, and even the present day, it’s almost always the case that whenever I find a song written in 2/2, it could be better written in 4/4 with the tempo cut in half. 

Back in high school, I had to play an arrangement of “I Want You Back” that was written in cut time for absolutely no reason. In college, I had a similar experience with Toto’s “Africa”. Jeff Porcaro would not be proud! At least with classical music, you can blame 2/2 on a weird composer just being weird. 

Anyway, like last time, I wanted to prepare two PDFs for you to download: one in cut time, the other in common time with the tempo halved. Alas, MuseScore was being quite glitchy, I just didn’t have to patience to make it work. So only 2/2 today. 

As far as the drum solo goes, let me start by saying this was very challenging to transcribe, for all the wrong reasons. This is a jazz trio, so you know what that means: the entire drum kit is panned to the right, making it quite difficult to fish out the individual drums — the entire kit just blurs together. 

To make matters worse, the timing is very loose, much more so than “Early Summer”. I’m honestly not too proud of the work I did this week. I had to rely heavily on a transcription technique called “wild ass guessing”, but I didn’t really have much of a choice without spending more time. Which I didn’t want to do — the gains are diminishing for dissecting playing like this. 

Nevertheless, I got into a bit of a sunk–cost situation: I sunk a good chunk of time into “Horizon”, so I didn’t want to abandon my work when I had nothing else to share this week.

As you can probably tell already, there is a flurry of triplets happening on the “Horizon” drum solo. The sticking changes up quite a bit — on this, line, I think Yoshi jumps from singles to a shuffle pattern (RLR RLR RLR RLR) starting on beat 1 of the fourth measure, eventually ending with a puh–duh–duh (RLL):

You’ll see bars of 3/2 in the cut–time version. Don’t freak out! There’s just an extra beat in those phrases. I refuse to use a time signature like 1/2, so I just combined all the beats into one bar with six quarter notes. Of course, in 4/4 this is just a bar of 2/4 added to the phrase.

I will say, using cut time does make some of these triplets a little easier to read, but I can’t say if that justifies the time signature. 

When it comes to my analysis, I really don’t have much more to offer since I have such little confidence in the accuracy of this transcription. One other thing that stood out to me is this linear motif Yoshi uses towards the middle of the solo:

I’m pretty sure I got this part right, although the phrasing might be off.

The drum solo ends with a more solid groove and has Yoshi using a lot of the moves he uses to keep time throughout the track:

You’ll notice that I split the hands and feet up into independent rhythms. I rarely notate the drums like this, because I think it’s ugly — I only save it for polyrhythms, and one appears briefly during this segment. 

Download PDF.

“Horizon” on Songwhip.

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