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Rhythm, a sequence in time repeated, featured in dance: an early moving picture demonstrates the waltz. Phenakistoscope 3g07690b.gif
Rhythm, a sequence in time repeated, featured in dance: an early moving picture demonstrates the waltz.

Rhythm (from Greek ῥυθμός, rhythmos, "any regular recurring motion, symmetry" ( Liddell and Scott 1996 )) generally means a "movement marked by the regulated succession of strong and weak elements, or of opposite or different conditions" ( Anon. 1971 , 2537). This general meaning of regular recurrence or pattern in time can apply to a wide variety of cyclical natural phenomena having a periodicity or frequency of anything from microseconds to several seconds (as with the riff in a rock music song); to several minutes or hours, or, at the most extreme, even over many years.

Ancient Greek Version of the Greek language used from roughly the 9th century BCE to the 6th century CE

The ancient Greek language includes the forms of Greek used in Ancient Greece and the ancient world from around the 9th century BCE to the 6th century CE. It is often roughly divided into the Archaic period, Classical period, and Hellenistic period. It is antedated in the second millennium BCE by Mycenaean Greek and succeeded by Medieval Greek.

Repetition is important in music, where sounds or sequences are often repeated. It may be called restatement, such as the restatement of a theme. While it plays a role in all music, with noise and musical tones lying along a spectrum from irregular to periodic sounds,(Moravcsik, 114)(Rajagopal, ) it is especially prominent in specific styles.

Frequency is the number of occurrences of a repeating event per unit of time. It is also referred to as temporal frequency, which emphasizes the contrast to spatial frequency and angular frequency. The period is the duration of time of one cycle in a repeating event, so the period is the reciprocal of the frequency. For example: if a newborn baby's heart beats at a frequency of 120 times a minute, its period—the time interval between beats—is half a second. Frequency is an important parameter used in science and engineering to specify the rate of oscillatory and vibratory phenomena, such as mechanical vibrations, audio signals (sound), radio waves, and light.


In the performance arts, rhythm is the timing of events on a human scale; of musical sounds and silences that occur over time, of the steps of a dance, or the meter of spoken language and poetry. In some performing arts, such as hip hop music, the rhythmic delivery of the lyrics is one of the most important elements of the style. Rhythm may also refer to visual presentation, as "timed movement through space" ( Jirousek 1995 ) and a common language of pattern unites rhythm with geometry. 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 (1976), Fred Lerdahl and Ray Jackendoff ( Lerdahl and Jackendoff 1983 ), Jonathan Kramer, Christopher Hasty (1997), Godfried Toussaint (2005), William Rothstein (1989), Joel Lester ( Lester 1986 ), and Guerino Mazzola.

Music form of art using sound and silence

Music is an art form and cultural activity whose medium is sound organized in time. General definitions of music include common elements such as pitch, rhythm, dynamics, and the sonic qualities of timbre and texture. Different styles or types of music may emphasize, de-emphasize or omit some of these elements. Music is performed with a vast range of instruments and vocal techniques ranging from singing to rapping; there are solely instrumental pieces, solely vocal pieces and pieces that combine singing and instruments. The word derives from Greek μουσική . See glossary of musical terminology.

Language Capacity to communicate using signs, such as words or gestures

Language is a system that consists of the development, acquisition, maintenance and use of complex systems of communication, particularly the human ability to do so; a language is any specific example of such a system.

Hip hop music music genre consisting of a stylized rhythmic music that commonly accompanies rapping

Hip hop music, also called hip-hop or rap music, is a genre of popular music developed in the United States by inner-city African Americans and Latino Americans in the Bronx borough of New York City in the 1970s. It consists of a stylized rhythmic music that commonly accompanies rapping, a rhythmic and rhyming speech that is chanted. It developed as part of hip hop culture, a subculture defined by four key stylistic elements: MCing/rapping, DJing/scratching with turntables, break dancing, and graffiti writing. Other elements include sampling beats or bass lines from records, and rhythmic beatboxing. While often used to refer solely to rapping, "hip hop" more properly denotes the practice of the entire subculture. The term hip hop music is sometimes used synonymously with the term rap music, though rapping is not a required component of hip hop music; the genre may also incorporate other elements of hip hop culture, including DJing, turntablism, scratching, beatboxing, and instrumental tracks.


Percussion instruments have clearly defined sounds that aid the creation and perception of complex rhythms Traditional indonesian instruments02.jpg
Percussion instruments have clearly defined sounds that aid the creation and perception of complex rhythms

In his television series How Music Works, Howard Goodall presents theories that human rhythm recalls the regularity with which we walk and the heartbeat ( Goodall 2006 , 0:03:10). Other research suggests that it does not relate to the heartbeat directly, but rather the speed of emotional affect, which also influences heartbeat. Yet other researchers suggest that since certain features of human music are widespread, it is "reasonable to suspect that beat-based rhythmic processing has ancient evolutionary roots" ( Patel 2014 , 1). Justin London writes that musical metre "involves our initial perception as well as subsequent anticipation of a series of beats that we abstract from the rhythm surface of the music as it unfolds in time" ( London 2004 , 4). The "perception" and "abstraction" of rhythmic measure is the foundation of human instinctive musical participation, as when we divide a series of identical clock-ticks into "tick-tock-tick-tock" (Scholes 1977b; Scholes 1977c).

Howard Goodall English composer and presenter for television and radio

Howard Lindsay Goodall is an English composer of musicals, choral music and music for television. He also presents music-based programmes for television and radio, for which he has won many awards. In May 2008, he was named as a presenter and Composer-in-Residence with the UK radio channel Classic FM. In May 2009, he was named "Composer of the Year" at the Classic BRIT Awards.

A simple [quadr]duple drum pattern, which lays a foundation of duration common in popular music:
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A simple [quadr]duple drum pattern, which lays a foundation of duration common in popular music: Loudspeaker.svg Play  .

Joseph Jordania recently suggested that the sense of rhythm was developed in the early stages of hominid evolution by the forces of natural selection ( Jordania 2011 , 99–101). Plenty of animals walk rhythmically and hear the sounds of the heartbeat in the womb, but only humans have the ability to be engaged (entrained) in rhythmically coordinated vocalizations and other activities. According to Jordania, development of the sense of rhythm was central for the achievement of the specific neurological state of the battle trance, crucial for the development of the effective defense system of early hominids. Rhythmic war cry, rhythmic drumming by shamans, rhythmic drilling of the soldiers and contemporary professional combat forces listening to the heavy rhythmic rock music ( Pieslak 2009 , [ page needed ]) all use the ability of rhythm to unite human individuals into a shared collective identity where group members put the interests of the group above their individual interests and safety.

Joseph Jordania Georgian musicologist

Joseph Jordania is an Australian–Georgian ethnomusicologist and evolutionary musicologist and professor. He is an Honorary Fellow of the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music at the University of Melbourne and the Head of the Foreign Department of the International Research Centre for Traditional Polyphony at Tbilisi State Conservatory. Jordania is known for his model of the origins of human choral singing in the wide context of human evolution and was one of founders of the International Research Centre for Traditional Polyphony in Georgia.

Natural selection Mechanism of evolution by differential survival and reproduction of individuals

Natural selection is the differential survival and reproduction of individuals due to differences in phenotype. It is a key mechanism of evolution, the change in the heritable traits characteristic of a population over generations. Charles Darwin popularised the term "natural selection", contrasting it with artificial selection, which in his view is intentional, whereas natural selection is not.

Entrainment (biomusicology) synchronization to a musical beat

Entrainment in the biomusicological sense refers to the synchronization of organisms to an external perceived rhythm such as human music and dance. Humans are the only species for which all individuals experience entrainment, although there are documented examples of entrained nonhuman individuals.

Some types of parrots can know rhythm ( Anon. 2009 ). Neurologist Oliver Sacks states that chimpanzees and other animals show no similar appreciation of rhythm yet posits that human affinity for rhythm is fundamental, so that a person's sense of rhythm cannot be lost (e.g. by stroke). "There is not a single report of an animal being trained to tap, peck, or move in synchrony with an auditory beat" (Patel 2006, cited in Sacks 2007 , 239–40, who adds, "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.") Human rhythmic arts are possibly to some extent rooted in courtship ritual ( Mithen 2005 , [ page needed ]).

Oliver Sacks British neurologist and writer

Oliver Wolf Sacks, was a British neurologist, naturalist, historian of science, and author. Born in Britain, and mostly educated there, he spent his career in the United States. He believed that the brain is the "most incredible thing in the universe." He became widely known for writing best-selling case histories about both his patients' and his own disorders and unusual experiences, with some of his books adapted for plays by major playwrights, feature films, animated short films, opera, dance, fine art, and musical works in the classical genre.

Chimpanzee species of mammal

The chimpanzee, also known as the common chimpanzee, robust chimpanzee, or simply "chimp", is a species of great ape native to the forests and savannahs of tropical Africa. It has four confirmed subspecies and a fifth proposed subspecies. The chimpanzee and the closely related bonobo are classified in the genus Pan. Evidence from fossils and DNA sequencing shows that Pan is a sister taxon to the human lineage and is humans' closest living relative.

Compound triple drum pattern: divides three beats into three.
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Compound triple drum pattern: divides three beats into three. Loudspeaker.svg Play   Contains repetition on three levels.

The establishment of a basic beat requires the perception of a regular sequence of distinct short-duration pulses and, as a subjective perception of loudness is relative to background noise levels, a pulse must decay to silence before the next occurs if it is to be really distinct. For this reason, the fast-transient sounds of percussion instruments lend themselves to the definition of rhythm. Musical cultures that rely upon such instruments may develop multi-layered polyrhythm and simultaneous rhythms in more than one time signature, called polymeter. Such are the cross-rhythms of Sub-Saharan Africa and the interlocking kotekan rhythms of the gamelan .

Polyrhythm simultaneous use of two or more conflicting rhythms

Polyrhythm is the simultaneous use of two or more rhythms that are not readily perceived as deriving from one another, or as simple manifestations of the same meter. The rhythmic conflict may be the basis of an entire piece of music (cross-rhythm), or a momentary disruption. Polyrhythms can be distinguished from irrational rhythms, which can occur within the context of a single part; polyrhythms require at least two rhythms to be played concurrently, one of which is typically an irrational rhythm. Concurrently in this context means within the same rhythmic cycle. The underlying pulse, whether explicit or implicit can be considered one of the concurrent rhythms. For example, the son clave is poly-rhythmic because its 3 section suggests a different meter from the pulse of the entire pattern.


Kotekan is a style of playing fast interlocking parts in most varieties of Balinese Gamelan music, including Gamelan gong kebyar, Gamelan angklung, Gamelan jegog and others.

Gamelan Indonesian traditional ensemble

Gamelan is the traditional ensemble music of Javanese, Sundanese, and Balinese in Indonesia, made up predominantly of percussive instruments. The most common instruments used are metallophones played by mallets and a set of hand-played drums called kendhang which register the beat. Also the kemanak, a banana shaped idiophone and gangsa, another metallaphone are amongst the commonly used gamelan instruments. Other instruments include xylophones, bamboo flutes, a bowed instrument called a rebab, and even vocalists named sindhen.

For information on rhythm in Indian music see Tala (music). For other Asian approaches to rhythm see Rhythm in Persian music, Rhythm in Arabic music and Usul—Rhythm in Turkish music and Dumbek rhythms.


Pulse, beat and measure

Metric levels: beat level shown in middle with division levels above and multiple levels below. Metric levels.svg
Metric levels: beat level shown in middle with division levels above and multiple levels below.

Most music, dance and oral poetry establishes and maintains an underlying "metric level", a basic unit of time that may be audible or implied, the pulse or tactus of the mensural level (Berry 1987 , 349; Lerdahl and Jackendoff 1983; Fitch and Rosenfeld 2007 , 44), or beat level, sometimes simply called the beat. This consists of a (repeating) series of identical yet distinct periodic short-duration stimuli perceived as points in time ( Winold 1975 , 213). The "beat" pulse is not necessarily the fastest or the slowest component of the rhythm but the one that is perceived as fundamental: it has a tempo to which listeners entrain as they tap their foot or dance to a piece of music ( Handel 1989 ).[ incomplete short citation ] It is currently most often designated as a crotchet or quarter note in western notation (see time signature). Faster levels are division levels, and slower levels are multiple levels( Winold 1975 , 213). Maury Yeston clarified "Rhythms of recurrence" arise from the interaction of two levels of motion, the faster providing the pulse and the slower organizing the beats into repetitive groups ( Yeston 1976 , 50–52). "Once a metric hierarchy has been established, we, as listeners, will maintain that organization as long as minimal evidence is present" ( Lester 1986 , 77).

Unit and gesture

Rhythmic units: division level shown above and rhythmic units shown below
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Rhythmic units: division level shown above and rhythmic units shown below Loudspeaker.svg Play  .

A durational pattern that synchronises with a pulse or pulses on the underlying metric level may be called a rhythmic unit. These may be classified as; metric—even patterns, such as steady eighth notes or pulses—intrametric—confirming patterns, such as dotted eighth-sixteenth note and swing patterns—contrametric—non-confirming, or syncopated patterns and extrametric—irregular patterns, such as tuplets.

A rhythmic gesture is any durational pattern that, in contrast to the rhythmic unit, does not occupy a period of time equivalent to a pulse or pulses on an underlying metric level. It may be described according to its beginning and ending or by the rhythmic units it contains. Rhythms that begin on a strong pulse are thetic, those beginning on a weak pulse are anacrustic and those beginning after a rest or tied-over note are called initial rest. Endings on a strong pulse are strong, on a weak pulse, weak and those that end on a strong or weak upbeat are upbeat( Winold 1975 , 239).

Alternation and repetition

Rhythm is marked by the regulated succession of opposite elements, the dynamics of the strong and weak beat, the played beat and the inaudible but implied rest beat, the long and short note. As well as perceiving rhythm humans must be able to anticipate it. This depends on repetition of a pattern that is short enough to memorize.

The alternation of the strong and weak beat is fundamental to the ancient language of poetry, dance and music. The common poetic term "foot" refers, as in dance, to the lifting and tapping of the foot in time. In a similar way musicians speak of an upbeat and a downbeat and of the "on" and "off" beat. These contrasts naturally facilitate a dual hierarchy of rhythm and depend on repeating patterns of duration, accent and rest forming a "pulse-group" that corresponds to the poetic foot. Normally such pulse-groups are defined by taking the most accented beat as the first and counting the pulses until the next accent (MacPherson 1930 , 5; Scholes 1977b). A rhythm that accents another beat and de-emphasises the downbeat as established or assumed from the melody or from a preceding rhythm is called syncopated rhythm.

Normally, even the most complex of meters may be broken down into a chain of duple and triple pulses (MacPherson 1930 , 5; Scholes 1977b) either by addition or division. According to Pierre Boulez, beat structures beyond four, in western music, are "simply not natural" ( Slatkin n.d. , at 5:05).

Tempo and duration

The tempo of the piece is the speed or frequency of the tactus, a measure of how quickly the beat flows. This is often measured in 'beats per minute' (bpm): 60 bpm means a speed of one beat per second, a frequency of 1 Hz. A rhythmic unit is a durational pattern that has a period equivalent to a pulse or several pulses ( Winold 1975 , 237). The duration of any such unit is inversely related to its tempo.

Musical sound may be analyzed on five different time scales, which Moravscik has arranged in order of increasing duration ( Moravcsik 2002 , 114).

Curtis Roads ( Roads 2001 ) takes a wider view by distinguishing nine-time scales, this time in order of decreasing duration. The first two, the infinite and the supra musical, encompass natural periodicities of months, years, decades, centuries, and greater, while the last three, the sample and subsample, which take account of digital and electronic rates "too brief to be properly recorded or perceived", measured in millionths of seconds (microseconds), and finally the infinitesimal or infinitely brief, are again in the extra-musical domain. Roads' Macro level, encompassing "overall musical architecture or form" roughly corresponds to Moravcsik's "very long" division while his Meso level, the level of "divisions of form" including movements, sections, phrases taking seconds or minutes, is likewise similar to Moravcsik's "long" category. Roads' Sound object (Schaeffer 1959 [ incomplete short citation ]; Schaeffer 1977 [ incomplete short citation ]): "a basic unit of musical structure" and a generalization of note (Xenakis' mini structural time scale); fraction of a second to several seconds, and his Microsound (see granular synthesis) down to the threshold of audible perception; thousands to millionths of seconds, are similarly comparable to Moravcsik's "short" and "supershort" levels of duration.

Metric structure

Notation of a clave rhythm pattern: Each cell of the grid corresponds to a fixed duration of time with a resolution fine enough to capture the timing of the pattern, which may be counted as two bars of four beats in divisive (metrical or symmetrical) rhythm, each beat divided into two cells. The first bar of the pattern may also usefully be counted additively (in measured or asymmetrical rhythm) as 3 + 3 + 2. Claves-detail.gif
Notation of a clave rhythm pattern: Each cell of the grid corresponds to a fixed duration of time with a resolution fine enough to capture the timing of the pattern, which may be counted as two bars of four beats in divisive (metrical or symmetrical) rhythm, each beat divided into two cells. The first bar of the pattern may also usefully be counted additively (in measured or asymmetrical rhythm) as 3 + 3 + 2.

The study of rhythm, stress, and pitch in speech is called prosody (see also: prosody (music)): it is a topic in linguistics and poetics, where it means the number of lines in a verse, the number of syllables in each line and the arrangement of those syllables as long or short, accented or unaccented. Music inherited the term "meter or metre" from the terminology of poetry (Scholes 1977b; Scholes 1977c; Latham 2002).

The metric structure of music includes meter, tempo and all other rhythmic aspects that produce temporal regularity against which the foreground details or durational patterns of the music are projected (Winold 1975 , 209-10). The terminology of western music is notoriously imprecise in this area ( Scholes 1977b ). MacPherson 1930 , 3 preferred to speak of "time" and "rhythmic shape", Imogen Holst ( Holst 1963 , 17) of "measured rhythm".

Dance music has instantly recognizable patterns of beats built upon a characteristic tempo and measure. The Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing defines the tango, for example, as to be danced in 2
time at approximately 66 beats per minute. The basic slow step forwards or backwards, lasting for one beat, is called a "slow", so that a full "right–left" step is equal to one 2
measure ( Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing 1977 , [ page needed ]) (See Rhythm and dance ).

Notation of three measures of a clave pattern preceded by one measure of steady quarter notes. This pattern is noted in double time relative to the one above, in one instead of two four-beat measures
Four beats followed by three Clave patterns (help*info)
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Notation of three measures of a clave pattern preceded by one measure of steady quarter notes. This pattern is noted in double time relative to the one above, in one instead of two four-beat measures Loudspeaker.svg Four beats followed by three Clave patterns  .

The general classifications of metrical rhythm, measured rhythm, and free rhythm may be distinguished ( Cooper 1973 , 30). Metrical or divisive rhythm, by far the most common in Western music calculates each time value as a multiple or fraction of the beat. Normal accents re-occur regularly providing systematical grouping (measures). Measured rhythm (additive rhythm) also calculates each time value as a multiple or fraction of a specified time unit but the accents do not recur regularly within the cycle. Free rhythm is where there is neither ( Cooper 1973 , 30), such as in Christian chant, which has a basic pulse but a freer rhythm, like the rhythm of prose compared to that of verse ( Scholes 1977c ). See Free time (music) .

Finally some music, such as some graphically scored works since the 1950s and non-European music such as Honkyoku repertoire for shakuhachi, may be considered ametric( Karpinski 2000 , 19). Senza misura is an Italian musical term for "without meter", meaning to play without a beat, using time to measure how long it will take to play the bar (Forney and Machlis 2007 [ page needed ]).

Composite rhythm

Bach's Sinfonia in F minor BWV 795, mm. 1-3
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Bach's Sinfonia in F minor BWV 795, mm. 1–3 Loudspeaker.svg Play original   Loudspeaker.svg Play with composite  .

A composite rhythm is the durations and patterns (rhythm) produced by amalgamating all sounding parts of a musical texture. In music of the common practice period, the composite rhythm usually confirms the meter, often in metric or even-note patterns identical to the pulse on a specific metric level. White defines composite rhythm as, "the resultant overall rhythmic articulation among all the voices of a contrapuntal texture" ( White 1976 , 136.). This concept was concurrently defined as “attack point rhythm” by Maury Yeston in 1976 as “the extreme rhythmic foreground of a composition – the absolute surface of articulated movement” ( Yeston 1976 , 41–42).

African music

A Griot performs at Diffa, Niger, West Africa. The Griot is playing a Ngoni or Xalam. Diffa Niger Griot DSC 0177.jpg
A Griot performs at Diffa, Niger, West Africa. The Griot is playing a Ngoni or Xalam.

In the Griot tradition of Africa everything related to music has been passed on orally. Babatunde Olatunji (1927–2003) developed a simple series of spoken sounds for teaching the rhythms of the hand-drum, using six vocal sounds, "Goon, Doon, Go, Do, Pa, Ta", for three basic sounds on the drum, each played with either the left or the right hand.[ citation needed ] The debate about the appropriateness of staff notation for African music is a subject of particular interest to outsiders while African scholars from Kyagambiddwa to Kongo have, for the most part, accepted the conventions and limitations of staff notation, and produced transcriptions to inform and enable discussion and debate ( Agawu 2003 , 52).

John Miller Chernoff 1979 has argued that West African music is based on the tension between rhythms, polyrhythms created by the simultaneous sounding of two or more different rhythms, generally one dominant rhythm interacting with one or more independent competing rhythms. These often oppose or complement each other and the dominant rhythm. Moral values underpin a musical system based on repetition of relatively simple patterns that meet at distant cross-rhythmic intervals and on call-and-response form. Collective utterances such as proverbs or lineages appear either in phrases translated into "drum talk" or in the words of songs. People expect musicians to stimulate participation by reacting to people dancing. Appreciation of musicians is related to the effectiveness of their upholding community values ( Chernoff 1979 )[ page needed ].

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 on 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

In the 20th century, composers like Igor Stravinsky, Béla Bartók, 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 , 257). La Monte 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 Theremin to invent the rhythmicon, the first electronic rhythm machine, in order to perform them. Similarly, Conlon Nancarrow wrote for the player piano.


In linguistics, rhythm or isochrony is one of the three aspects of prosody, along with stress and intonation. Languages can be categorized according to whether they are syllable-timed, mora-timed, or stress-timed. Speakers of syllable-timed languages such as Spanish and Cantonese put roughly equal time on each syllable; in contrast, speakers of stressed-timed languages such as English and Mandarin Chinese put roughly equal time lags between stressed syllables, with the timing of the unstressed syllables in between them being adjusted to accommodate the stress timing.

Narmour 1977 (cited in Winold 1975, [ page needed ]) describes three categories of prosodic rules that create rhythmic successions that 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 (Middleton 1990, [ page needed ]).

Related Research Articles

Dance A performing art consisting of movement of the body

Dance is a performing art form consisting of purposefully selected sequences of human movement. This movement has aesthetic and symbolic value, and is acknowledged as dance by performers and observers within a particular culture. Dance can be categorized and described by its choreography, by its repertoire of movements, or by its historical period or place of origin.

Metre (music) aspect of music

In music, metre refers to the regularly recurring patterns and accents such as bars and beats. Unlike rhythm, metric onsets are not necessarily sounded, but are nevertheless expected by the listener.

In music, duration is an amount of time or how long or short a note, phrase, section, or composition lasts. "Duration is the length of time a pitch, or tone, is sounded." A note may last less than a second, while a symphony may last more than an hour. One of the fundamental features of rhythm, or encompassing rhythm, duration is also central to meter and musical form. Release plays an important part in determining the timbre of a musical instrument and is affected by articulation.

Groove (music) music

In music, groove is the sense of an effect ("feel") of changing pattern in a propulsive rhythm or sense of "swing". In jazz, it can be felt as a quality of persistently repeated rhythmic units, created by the interaction of the music played by a band's rhythm section. Groove is a significant feature of popular music, and can be found in many genres, including salsa, funk, rock, fusion, and soul.

Beat (music) basic unit of time in music and music theory

In music and music theory, the beat is the basic unit of time, the pulse, of the mensural level. The beat is often defined as the rhythm listeners would tap their toes to when listening to a piece of music, or the numbers a musician counts while performing, though in practice this may be technically incorrect. In popular use, beat can refer to a variety of related concepts, including pulse, tempo, meter, specific rhythms, and groove.

In the history of European art music, the common practice period is the era of the tonal system. Though it has no exact dates, most features of the common-practice period persisted from the mid- to late baroque period, through the Classical, Romantic and Impressionist periods, from around 1650 to 1900. The period saw considerable stylistic evolution, with some patterns and conventions flourishing and then declining, for example the Sonata form. Thus, the dates 1650–1900 are necessarily nebulous and arbitrary borders that depend on context. The most important unifying feature throughout the period is a harmonic language to which modern music theorists can apply Roman numeral chord analysis.

In music, the terms additive and divisive are used to distinguish two types of both rhythm and meter:

Pulse (music) musical term

In music and music theory, the pulse consists of beats in a (repeating) of identical yet distinct periodic short-duration stimuli perceived as points in time occurring at the mensural level. "This pulse is typically what listeners entrain to as they tap their foot or dance along with a piece of music, and is also colloquially termed the 'beat,' or more technically the 'tactus' ." "Even a person untrained in music, can generally sense the pulse and may respond by tapping a foot or clapping."

Metric modulation

In music, metric modulation is a change in pulse rate (tempo) and/or pulse grouping (subdivision) which is derived from a note value or grouping heard before the change. Examples of metric modulation may include changes in time signature across an unchanging tempo, but the concept applies more specifically to shifts from one time signature/tempo (metre) to another, wherein a note value from the first is made equivalent to a note value in the second, like a pivot or bridge. The term "modulation" invokes the analogous and more familiar term in analyses of tonal harmony, wherein a pitch or pitch interval serves as a bridge between two keys. In both terms, the pivoting value functions differently before and after the change, but sounds the same, and acts as an audible common element between them. Metric modulation was first described by Richard Franko Goldman (1951) while reviewing the Cello Sonata of Elliott Carter, who prefers to call it tempo modulation. Another synonymous term is proportional tempi.

A technique in which a rhythmic pattern is superposed on another, heterometrically, and then supersedes it and becomes the basic metre. Usually, such time signatures are mutually prime, e.g., 4
and 3
, and so have no common divisors. Thus the change of the basic metre decisively alters the numerical content of the beat, but the minimal denominator remains constant in duration.

In music, a tuplet is "any rhythm that involves dividing the beat into a different number of equal subdivisions from that usually permitted by the time-signature ". This is indicated by a number, indicating the fraction involved. The notes involved are also often grouped with a bracket or a slur.

Tala (music) Meter, time cycle measure in Indian music

A Tala, sometimes spelled Taal or Tal, literally means a "clap, tapping one's hand on one's arm, a musical measure". It is the term used in Indian classical music to refer to musical meter, that is any rhythmic beat or strike that measures musical time. The measure is typically established by hand clapping, waving, touching fingers on thigh or the other hand, verbally, striking of small cymbals, or a percussion instrument in the Indian subcontinental traditions. Along with raga which forms the fabric of a melodic structure, the tala forms the life cycle and thereby constitutes one of the two foundational elements of Indian music.

Ewe music is the music of the Ewe people of Togo, Ghana, and Benin, West Africa. Instrumentation is primarily percussive and rhythmically the music features great metrical complexity. Its highest form is in dance music including a drum orchestra, but there are also work, play, and other songs. Ewe music is featured in A. M. Jones's Studies in African Music.

Period (music) division in music

In music, a period is certain types of recurrence in small-scale formal structure. In twentieth-century music scholarship, the term is usually used as defined by the Oxford Companion to Music: "a period consists of two phrases, antecedent and consequent, each of which begins with the same basic motif." Earlier usage varied somewhat, but usually referred to similar notions of symmetry, recurrence, and closure. The concept of a musical period originates in comparisons between music structure and rhetoric at least as early as the 16th century.

In music, the term swing has two main uses. Colloquially, it is used to describe the quality or impression or effect ("feel") of a changing pattern in a propulsive rhythm created by the musical interaction between the performers, especially when the music prompts a visceral response such as foot-tapping or head-nodding, which sense is called "groove". The term, and swung note(s) and swung rhythm, is also used more specifically, to refer to a technique that involves alternately lengthening and shortening the first and second consecutive notes in the two part pulse-divisions in a beat.

Gelineau psalmody is a method of singing the Psalms that was developed in France by Catholic Jesuit priest Joseph Gelineau around 1953, with English translations appearing some ten years later. Its chief distinctives are:

Bell pattern

A bell pattern is a rhythmic pattern of striking a hand-held bell or other instrument of the idiophone family, to make it emit a sound at desired intervals. It is often a key pattern, in most cases it is a metal bell, such as an agogô, gankoqui, or cowbell, or a hollowed piece of wood, or wooden claves. In band music, bell patterns are also played on the metal shell of the timbales, and drum kit cymbals.

In music, a cross-beat or cross-rhythm is a specific form of polyrhythm. The term cross rhythm was introduced in 1934 by the musicologist Arthur Morris Jones (1889–1980). It refers to when the rhythmic conflict found in polyrhythms is the basis of an entire musical piece.

Dalcroze eurhythmics, also known as the Dalcroze method or simply eurhythmics, is one of several developmental approaches including the Kodály method, Orff Schulwerk and Suzuki Method used to teach music to students. Eurhythmics was developed in the early 20th century by Swiss musician and educator Émile Jaques-Dalcroze. Dalcroze eurhythmics teaches concepts of rhythm, structure, and musical expression using movement, and is the concept for which Dalcroze is best known. It focuses on allowing the student to gain physical awareness and experience of music through training that takes place through all of the senses, particularly kinesthetic.

Rhythm in Sub-Saharan Africa

Sub-Saharan African music is characterised by a "strong rhythmic interest" that exhibits common characteristics in all regions of this vast territory, so that Arthur Morris Jones (1889–1980) has described the many local approaches as constituting one main system. C. K. Ladzekpo also affirms the profound homogeneity of approach. West African rhythmic techniques carried over the Atlantic were fundamental ingredients in various musical styles of the Americas: samba, forró, maracatu and coco in Brazil, Afro-Cuban music and Afro-American musical genres such as blues, jazz, rhythm & blues, funk, soul, reggae, hip hop, and rock and roll were thereby of immense importance in 20th century popular music [citation needed]. The drum is renowned throughout Africa.


Further reading