Rhythm (from Greek ῥυθμός—rhythmos, "any regular recurring motion, symmetry") may be generally defined as a "movement marked by the regulated succession of strong and weak elements, or of opposite or different conditions." This general meaning of regular recurrence or pattern in time may be applied to a wide variety of cyclical natural phenomena having a periodicity or frequency of anything from microseconds to millions of years.
In the performance arts rhythm is the timing of events on a human scale; of musical sounds and silences, of the steps of a dance, or the meter of spoken language and poetry. Rhythm may also refer to visual presentation, as "timed movement through space." 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, Fred Lerdahl and Ray Jackendoff, Jonathan Kramer, Christopher Hasty, William Rothstein and Joel Lester.
Rhythm is made up of sounds and silences. These sound and silences are put together to form a patterns of sounds which are repeated to create a rhythm. A rhythm has a steady beat, but it may also have different kinds of beats. Some beats may be stronger, longer, shorter or softer than others. In a single piece of music, a composer can use many different rhythms.
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.
It is noteworthy that the debate about the appropriateness of staff notation for African music is a subject of particular interest to outsiders, not insiders. African scholars from Kyagambiddwa to Kongo have for the most part accepted the conventions—and limitations—of staff notation and gone on to produce transcriptions in order to inform and to make possible a higher level of discussion and debate.— Agawu (2003: 52)
John Miller Chernoff 1979 has argued that West African music is based on tension between rhythms. This tension between rhythms is called polyrhythms and is created by the simultaneous sounding of two or more different rhythms. Often there is a dominant rhythm interacting with an independent competing rhythm, or rhythms. These often oppose or compliment each other and combine freely with the dominant rhythm creating a rich rhythmic texture not limited to any one set meter or tempo.
A set of moral values underpins a full musical system based on repetition of relatively simple patterns which meet at distant cross-rhythmic intervals and call and answer schemes. Values also show up in collective utterances such as proverbs or lineages appear either in phrases that translate as drum talk or in the words of songs. People expect musicians to stimulate participation of all present, notably by reacting to people dancing the music. Appreciation of musicians is related to the effectiveness of their upholding community values.
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.
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. 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.
Use of polyrhythms in American music is generally traced to the influence of black culture through Dixieland and Jazz styles. The effect of multiple soloing in these forms, often utilizing cross-rhythms comes directly from the underlying aesthetics of sub-Saharan African music. These complex rhythmic structures have been widely adopted in many current forms of western popular music.
A side note, during his time, Igor Stravinsky was considered untraditional and even radical. Some of his contemporary classical critics even attacked him for his radical break with classical music norms.
Last edited by MetaCugel8262
on 09 Dec 2011 15:21, edited 1 time in total.
The play of words can lead to certain expectations which life is unable to match. This is a source of much insanity and other forms of unhappiness...-Wreave Saying: Whipping Star