Rhythm: Wikis

  
  
  

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Rhythm (from greek ῥυθμόςrhythmos, "any measured flow or movement, symmetry") is "Movement marked by the regulated succession of strong and weak elements, or of opposite or different conditions." [1] While rhythm most commonly applies to sound, such as music and spoken language, it may also refer to visual presentation, as "timed movement through space."[2]

Contents

Rhythm in linguistics

The study of rhythm, stress, and pitch in speech is called prosody; it is a topic in linguistics. Narmour (1980, p. 147–53) describes three categories of prosodic rules which create rhythmic successions which are additive (same duration repeated), cumulative (short-long), or countercumulative (long-short). Cumulation is associated with closure or relaxation, countercumulation with openness or tension, while additive rhythms are open-ended and repetitive. Richard Middleton points out this method cannot account for syncopation and suggests the concept of transformation.

A rhythmic unit is a durational pattern which occupies a period of time equivalent to a pulse or pulses on an underlying metric level, as opposed to a rhythmic gesture which does not (DeLone et al. (Eds.), 1975

Origins of human appreciation of rhythm

In his series How Music Works, Howard Goodall presents theories that rhythm recalls how we walk and the heartbeat we heard in the womb. More likely is that a simple pulse or di-dah beat recalls the footsteps of another person. Our sympathetic urge to dance is designed to boost our energy levels in order to cope with someone, or some animal chasing us – a fight or flight response. From a less darwinist perspective, perceiving rhythm is the ability to master the otherwise invisible dimension, time. Rhythm is possibly also rooted in courtship ritual.[3]

Neurologist Oliver Sacks posits that human affinity for rhythm is fundamental, so much that a person's sense of rhythm cannot be lost in the way that music and language can (e.g. by stroke). In addition, he states that chimpanzees and other animals show no similar appreciation for rhythm.[4]

Rhythm notation and the oral tradition

Worldwide there are many different approaches to passing on rhythmic phrases and patterns, as they exist in traditional music, from generation to generation.

African music

In the Griot tradition of Africa everything related to music has been passed on orally. Babatunde Olatunji (1927–2003), a Nigerian drummer who lived and worked in the United States, developed a simple series of spoken sounds for teaching the rhythms of the hand drum. He used six vocal sounds: Goon Doon Go Do Pa Ta. There are three basic sounds on the drum, but each can be played with either the left or the right hand. This simple system is now used worldwide, particularly by Djembe players.

Indian music

Indian music has also been passed on orally. Tabla players would learn to speak complex rhythm patterns and phrases before attempting to play them. Sheila Chandra, an English pop singer of Indian descent, made performances based around her singing these patterns. In Indian Classical music, the Tala of a composition is the rhythmic pattern over which the whole piece is structured.

Western music

Standard music notation contains rhythmic information and is adapted specifically for drums and percussion instruments. The drums are generally used to keep other instruments in 'time'. They do this by supplying beats/strikes in time at a certain pace, i.e. 70 beats per minute (bpm). In Rock music, a drum beat is used to keep a bass/guitar line in time.

Types

In Western music, rhythms are usually arranged with respect to a time signature, partially signifying a meter. The speed of the underlying pulse is sometimes called the beat. The tempo is a measure of how quickly the pulse repeats. The tempo is usually measured in 'beats per minute' (bpm); 60 bpm means a speed of one beat per second. The length of the meter, or metric unit (usually corresponding with measure length), is usually grouped into either two or three beats, being called duple meter and triple meter, respectively. If each beat is divided by two or four, it is simple meter, if by three (or six) compound meter. According to Pierre Boulez, beat structures beyond four are "simply not natural".[5]. His reference is to western European music.

Standard notation of a clave pattern on audio clip clave pattern.ogg

Syncopated rhythms are rhythms that accent parts of the beat not already stressed by counting. Playing simultaneous rhythms in more than one time signature is called polymeter. See also polyrhythm. In recent years, rhythm and meter have become an important area of research among music scholars. Recent work in these areas includes books by Maury Yeston, Fred Lerdahl and Ray Jackendoff, Jonathan Kramer, Christopher Hasty, William Rothstein, and Joel Lester.

Grid notation of single a clave pattern

Some genres of music make different use of rhythm than others. Most Western music is based on subdivision, while non-Western music uses more additive rhythm. African music makes heavy use of polyrhythms, and Indian music uses complex cycles such as 7 and 13, while Balinese music often uses complex interlocking rhythms. By comparison, a lot of Western classical music is fairly rhythmically (or metrically) simple; it stays in a simple meter such as 4/4 or 3/4 and makes little use of syncopation.
Clave is a common underlying rhythm in African, Cuban music, and Brazilian music.

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In the 20th century, composers like Igor Stravinsky, Bela Bartok, Philip Glass, and Steve Reich wrote more rhythmically complex music using odd meters, and techniques such as phasing and additive rhythm. At the same time, modernists such as Olivier Messiaen and his pupils used increased complexity to disrupt the sense of a regular beat, leading eventually to the widespread use of irrational rhythms in New Complexity. This use may be explained by a comment of John Cage's where he notes that regular rhythms cause sounds to be heard as a group rather than individually; the irregular rhythms highlight the rapidly changing pitch relationships that would otherwise be subsumed into irrelevant rhythmic groupings (Sandow 2004, p. 257). LaMonte Young also wrote music in which the sense of a regular beat is absent because the music consists only of long sustained tones (drones). In the 1930s, Henry Cowell wrote music involving multiple simultaneous periodic rhythms and collaborated with Léon Thérémin to invent the Rhythmicon, the first electronic rhythm machine, in order to perform them. Similarly, Conlon Nancarrow wrote for the player piano.

See also

Notes

  1. ^ The Compact Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary. II. Oxford University Press. 1971. p. 2537. 
  2. ^ "Art, Design, and Visual Thinking". http://char.txa.cornell.edu/language/principl/rhythm/rhythm.htm. Retrieved 2010-03-16. 
  3. ^ Mithen, Steven (2005). The Singing Neanderthals: The Origins of Music, Language, Mind and Body.. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson.. ISBN 0297643177. http://www.epjournal.net/filestore/ep03375380.pdf. 
  4. ^ Patel, Aniruddh D. (2006), "Musical rhythm, linguistic rhythm, and human evolution", Music Perception (Berkeley, California: University of California Press) I (24): 99-104, ISSN 0730-7829, "there is not a single report of an animal being trained to tap, peck, or move in synchrony with an auditory beat."  as cited in Sacks, Oliver (2007). "Keeping Time: Rhythm and Movement". Musicophilia, Tales of Music and the Brain. New York • Toronto: Alfred a Knopf. pp. 239-240. ISBN 978-1-4000-4081-0. "No doubt many pet lovers will dispute this notion, and indeed many animals, from the Lippizaner horses of the Spanish Riding School of Vienna to performing circus animals appear to 'dance' to music. It is not clear whether they are doing so or are responding to subtle visual or tactile cues from the humans around them." 
  5. ^ In Discovering Music: Rhythm with Leonard Slatkin at 5:05

Sources

  • Hasty, Christopher (1997). Meter as Rhythm. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-510066-2.
  • London, Justin (2004). Hearing in Time: Psychological Aspects of Musical Meter. ISBN 0-19-516081-9.
  • Middleton, Richard (1990). Studying Popular Music. Philadelphia: Open University Press. ISBN 0-335-15275-9. 
  • Narmour (1980). Cited in DeLone et al. (Eds.) (1975). Aspects of Twentieth-Century Music. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice–Hall. ISBN 0-13-049346-5.
  • Sandow, Greg (2004). "A Fine Madness", The Pleasure of Modernist Music. ISBN 1-58046-143-3.
  • Yeston, Maury (1976). The Stratification of Musical Rhythm. Yale University Press. ISBN 0300018843. 

Further reading

  • McGaughey, William (2001). Rhythm and Self-Consciousness: New Ideals for an Electronic Civilization. Minneapolis: Thistlerose Publications. ISBN 0-9605630-4-0. 
  • Honing, H. (2002). "Structure and interpretation of rhythm and timing." Tijdschrift voor Muziektheorie [Dutch Journal of Music Theory] 7(3): 227–232.
  • Humble, M. (2002). The Development of Rhythmic Organization in Indian Classical Music, MA dissertation, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.
  • Lewis, Andrew (2005). Rhythm—What it is and How to Improve Your Sense of It. San Francisco: RhythmSource Press. ISBN 978-0-9754667-0-4.
  • Williams, C. F. A., The Aristoxenian Theory of Musical Rhythm, (Cambridge Library Collection - Music), Cambridge University Press; 1st edition, 2009.
  • Toussaint, G. T., “The geometry of musical rhythm,” In J. Akiyama, M. Kano, and X. Tan, editors, Proceedings of the Japan Conference on Discrete and Computational Geometry, Vol. 3742, Lecture Notes in Computer Science, Springer, Berlin/Heidelberg, 2005, pp. 198-212.

Study guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiversity

Rhythm is the term musicians use when talking about the pattern of beats in a piece of music. A simple rhythm might be

Tap tap tap tap Tap tap tap tap Tap tap tap tap,

emphasising the first tap.


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