Rhythm

Rhythm

Discussion

Encyclopedia

Rhythm may be generally defined as a "movement
Motion (physics)
In physics, motion is a change in position of an object with respect to time. Change in action is the result of an unbalanced force. Motion is typically described in terms of velocity, acceleration, displacement and time . An object's velocity cannot change unless it is acted upon by a force, as...

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
Time
Time is a part of the measuring system used to sequence events, to compare the durations of events and the intervals between them, and to quantify rates of change such as the motions of objects....

may be applied to a wide variety of cyclical natural phenomena having a periodicity
Periodicity
Periodicity may refer to:* Bott periodicity theorem, mathematical method of describing a periodicity in the homotopy groups of classical groups* Fokker periodicity blocks, concept in tuning theory used to mathematically relate musical intervals...

or frequency
Frequency
Frequency is the number of occurrences of a repeating event per unit time. It is also referred to as temporal frequency.The period is the duration of one cycle in a repeating event, so the period is the reciprocal of the 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
Dance
Dance is an art form that generally refers to movement of the body, usually rhythmic and to music, used as a form of expression, social interaction or presented in a spiritual or performance setting....

, 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
Pattern
A pattern, from the French patron, is a type of theme of recurring events or objects, sometimes referred to as elements of a set of objects.These elements repeat in a predictable manner...

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
Maury Yeston
Maury Yeston is an American composer, lyricist, educator and musicologist.He is known for writing the music and lyrics to Broadway musicals, including Nine in 1982, and Titanic in 1997, both of which won Tony Awards for best musical and best score. He also won a Drama Desk Award for Nine...

, Fred Lerdahl
Fred Lerdahl
Alfred Whitford Lerdahl is the Fritz Reiner Professor of Musical Composition at Columbia University, and a composer and music theorist best known for his work on pitch space and cognitive constraints on compositional systems or "musical grammar[s]." He has written many orchestral and chamber...

and Ray Jackendoff
Ray Jackendoff
Ray Jackendoff is an American linguist. He is professor of philosophy, Seth Merrin Chair in the Humanities and, with Daniel Dennett, Co-director of the Center for Cognitive Studies at Tufts University...

, Jonathan Kramer
Jonathan Kramer
Jonathan Donald Kramer , was a U.S. composer and music theorist.- Biography :...

, 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.

Anthropology

In his series How Music Works, Howard Goodall
Howard Goodall
210px|thumb|Howard Goodall at St. John the Baptist Church in Devon, United Kingdom, May 2009Howard Lindsay Goodall CBE is a British composer of musicals, choral music and music for television...

presents theories that human rhythm recalls the regularity with which we walk and the heartbeat we heard in the womb. 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".

Joseph Jordania
Joseph Jordania
Joseph Jordania is an Australian-Georgian ethnomusicologist and evolutionary musicologist. In some early publications his name was spelled as Zhordania...

recently suggested that the sense of rhythm was developed in the early stages of hominid evolution by the forces of natural selection
Natural selection
Natural selection is the nonrandom process by which biologic traits become either more or less common in a population as a function of differential reproduction of their bearers. It is a key mechanism of evolution....

. 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 a 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
Battle trance
Battle trance is a term denoting a specific altered state of consciousness that characterizes the psychological state of combatants during a combat situation. In this state, combatants do not feel fear or pain , and all the individual members of group are acting as one collective organism...

. This state was crucial for the development of the effective defense system of early hominids against major African predators, after hominids descended from the safer tree branches to more dangerous ground. Rhythmic war cry
War cry
War Cry or Warcry may refer to:* A battle cry — yell or chant taken up in battle, usually by members of the same military unit.* WarCry , a Spanish power metal band* The War Cry, official newspaper of the Salvation Army...

, rhythmic drumming by shamans, rhythmic drilling
Drilling
Drilling is a cutting process that uses a drill bit to cut or enlarge a hole in solid materials. The drill bit is a multipoint, end cutting tool...

of the soldiers, and contemporary professional combat forces listening to the heavy rhythmic rock music all use the ability of rhythm to unite human individuals into a shared collective identity
Collective identity
The term collective identity may refer to a variety of concepts. In general however, these concepts generally pertain to phenomena where an individuals' perceived membership in a social group impacts upon their own identity in some way. The idea of a collective identity has received attention in a...

where group members put the interests of the group above their individual interests and safety.

Neurologist Oliver Sacks
Oliver Sacks
Oliver Wolf Sacks, CBE , is a British neurologist and psychologist residing in New York City. He is a professor of neurology and psychiatry at Columbia University, where he also holds the position of Columbia Artist...

states that chimpanzee
Chimpanzee
Chimpanzee, sometimes colloquially chimp, is the common name for the two extant species of ape in the genus Pan. The Congo River forms the boundary between the native habitat of the two species:...

s 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
Stroke
A stroke, previously known medically as a cerebrovascular accident , is the rapidly developing loss of brain function due to disturbance in the blood supply to the brain. This can be due to ischemia caused by blockage , or a hemorrhage...

). Human rhythmic arts are possibly to some extent rooted in courtship ritual.

The establishment of a basic beat requires the perception of a regular sequence of distinct short-duration pulses and, as 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
Polyrhythm
Polyrhythm is the simultaneous sounding of two or more independent rhythms.Polyrhythm in general is a nonspecific term for the simultaneous occurrence of two or more conflicting rhythms, of which cross-rhythm is a specific and definable subset.—Novotney Polyrhythms can be distinguished from...

and simultaneous rhythms in more than one time signature, called polymeter. Such are the cross-rhythms of Sub-Saharan Africa and the interlocking kotekan
Kotekan
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. In kotekan there are two independent parts called polos and sangsih, each of which fills in the gaps of the other to form a...

rhythms of the Indonesian gamelan
Gamelan
A gamelan is a musical ensemble from Indonesia, typically from the islands of Bali or Java, featuring a variety of instruments such as metallophones, xylophones, drums and gongs; bamboo flutes, bowed and plucked strings. Vocalists may also be included....

.

For information on rhythm in Indian music
Music of India
The music of India includes multiple varieties of folk, popular, pop, classical music and R&B. India's classical music tradition, including Carnatic and Hindustani music, has a history spanning millennia and developed over several eras. It remains fundamental to the lives of Indians today as...

see Tala (music)
Tala (music)
Tāla, Taal or Tal is the term used in Indian classical music for the rhythmic pattern of any composition and for the entire subject of rhythm, roughly corresponding to metre in Western music, though closer conceptual equivalents are to be found in other Asian classical systems such as the notion...

. For other Asian approaches to rhythm see Rhythm in Persian music, Rhythm in Arabian music
Rhythm in Arabian music
Rhythm in Arabian music is analysed by means of rhythmic units called awzan and iqa'at.-Wazn and Iqa':A rhythmic pattern or cycle in Arabian music is called a "wazn" , literally a "measure", also called darb, mizan, and usul as is in Ottoman classical music)...

and Usul - Rhythm in Turkish music and Dumbek rhythms
Dumbek rhythms
Dumbek rhythms are a collection of rhythms that are usually played with hand drums such as the dumbek. These rhythms are various combinations of these three basic sounds:*doum , produced with the dominant hand striking the sweet spot of the skin....

.

Pulse, beat and measure

(See main articles; Pulse (music)
Pulse (music)
In music and music theory, the pulse or tactus consists of beats in a series of identical yet distinct periodic short-duration stimuli perceived as points in time occurring at the mensural level...

, Beat (music)
Beat (music)
The beat is the basic unit of time in music, the pulse of the mensural level . In popular use, the beat can refer to a variety of related concepts including: tempo, meter, rhythm and groove...

)

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
Pulse (music)
In music and music theory, the pulse or tactus consists of beats in a series of identical yet distinct periodic short-duration stimuli perceived as points in time occurring at the mensural level...

or tactus of the mensural level, or beat level, sometimes simply called the beat
Beat (music)
The beat is the basic unit of time in music, the pulse of the mensural level . In popular use, the beat can refer to a variety of related concepts including: tempo, meter, rhythm and groove...

. This consists of a (repeating) series of identical yet distinct periodic
Frequency
Frequency is the number of occurrences of a repeating event per unit time. It is also referred to as temporal frequency.The period is the duration of one cycle in a repeating event, so the period is the reciprocal of the frequency...

short-duration stimuli
Stimulus (physiology)
In physiology, a stimulus is a detectable change in the internal or external environment. The ability of an organism or organ to respond to external stimuli is called sensitivity....

perceived as points in time
Time
Time is a part of the measuring system used to sequence events, to compare the durations of events and the intervals between them, and to quantify rates of change such as the motions of objects....

. The "beat" pulse is not necessarily the fastest or the slowest component of the rhythm but the one that is perceived as basic: it has a tempo
Tempo
In musical terminology, tempo is the speed or pace of a given piece. Tempo is a crucial element of any musical composition, as it can affect the mood and difficulty of a piece.-Measuring tempo:...

to which listeners entrain
Entrainment (biomusicology)
Entrainment in the biomusicological sense refers to the synchronization of organisms to an external rhythm, usually produced by other organisms with whom they interact socially...

as they tap their foot or dance to a piece of music (Handel, 1989). It is currently most often designated as a crotchet or quarter note
Quarter note
A quarter note or crotchet is a note played for one quarter of the duration of a whole note . Often people will say that a crotchet is one beat, however, this is not always correct, as the beat is indicated by the time signature of the music; a quarter note may or may not be the beat...

in western notation (see time signature
Time signature
The time signature is a notational convention used in Western musical notation to specify how many beats are in each measure and which note value constitutes one beat....

). Faster levels are division levels, and slower levels are multiple levels (Wittlich 1975, chapt. 3). "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

A durational pattern that synchronises with a pulse
Pulse (music)
In music and music theory, the pulse or tactus consists of beats in a series of identical yet distinct periodic short-duration stimuli perceived as points in time occurring at the mensural level...

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 note
Eighth note
thumb|180px|right|Figure 1. An eighth note with stem facing up, an eighth note with stem facing down, and an eighth rest.thumb|right|180px|Figure 2. Four eighth notes beamed together....

s or pulse
Pulse (music)
In music and music theory, the pulse or tactus consists of beats in a series of identical yet distinct periodic short-duration stimuli perceived as points in time occurring at the mensural level...

s - intrametric - confirming patterns, such as dotted
Dotted note
In Western musical notation, a dotted note is a note with a small dot written after it. The dot increases the duration of the basic note by half of its original value. If the basic note lasts 2 beats, the corresponding dotted note lasts 3 beats...

eighth
Eighth note
thumb|180px|right|Figure 1. An eighth note with stem facing up, an eighth note with stem facing down, and an eighth rest.thumb|right|180px|Figure 2. Four eighth notes beamed together....

-sixteenth note
Sixteenth note
thumb|right|Figure 1. A sixteenth note with stem facing up, a sixteenth note with stem facing down, and a sixteenth rest.thumb|right|Figure 2. Four sixteenth notes beamed together....

and swing patterns - contrametric - non-confirming, or syncopated patterns and extrametric - irregular patterns, such as tuplet
Tuplet
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...

s.

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
Pulse (music)
In music and music theory, the pulse or tactus consists of beats in a series of identical yet distinct periodic short-duration stimuli perceived as points in time occurring at the mensural level...

or pulses on an underlying metric level. It may be described according to its beginning and ending or by the rhythmic units it contains. Beginnings on a strong pulse are thetic, a weak pulse, anacrustic and those beginning after a rest or tied-over note are called initial rest. Endings on a strong pulse are strong, a weak pulse, weak and those that end on a strong or weak upbeat are upbeat.

Alternation and repetition

Rhythm is marked by the regulated succession of opposite elements, the dynamics
Dynamics (music)
In music, dynamics normally refers to the volume of a sound or note, but can also refer to every aspect of the execution of a given piece, either stylistic or functional . The term is also applied to the written or printed musical notation used to indicate dynamics...

of the strong and weak
Accent (music)
In music, an accent is an emphasis placed on a particular note,either as a result of its context or specifically indicated by an accent mark.Accents contribute to the articulation and prosody of a performance of a musical phrase....

beat, the played beat and the inaudible but implied rest beat
Rest (music)
A rest is an interval of silence in a piece of music, marked by a sign indicating the length of the pause. Each rest symbol corresponds with a particular note value:The quarter rest may also be found as a form in older music....

, the long and short note. As well as perceiving rhythm we must be able to anticipate it. This depends upon repetition
Repetition (music)
Repetition is important in music, where sounds or sequences are often repeated. One often stated idea is that repetition should be in balance with the initial statements and variations in a piece. It may be called restatement, such as the restatement of a theme...

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"
Foot (prosody)
The foot is the basic metrical unit that generates a line of verse in most Western traditions of poetry, including English accentual-syllabic verse and the quantitative meter of classical ancient Greek and Latin poetry. The unit is composed of syllables, the number of which is limited, with a few...

refers, as in dance, to the lifting and tapping
Arsis and thesis
In music and prosody, arsis and thesis refer to the stronger and weaker parts of a musical measure or poetic foot. Arsis and thesis were the raising and lowering of the foot in beating of time, or the raising and lowering of the voice in pitch or stress...

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 upon 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
Counting (music)
In music, counting is a system of regularly occurring sounds that serve to assist with the performance or audition of music by allowing the easy identification of the beat. Commonly, this involves verbally counting the beats in each measure as they occur...

the pulses until the next accent (MacPherson 1930, 5; Scholes 1977). A rhythm that accents another beat and de-emphasises the down beat as established or assumed from the melody or from a preceding rhythm is called syncopated
Syncopation
In music, syncopation includes a variety of rhythms which are in some way unexpected in that they deviate from the strict succession of regularly spaced strong and weak but also powerful beats in a meter . These include a stress on a normally unstressed beat or a rest where one would normally be...

rhythm.

Normally, even the most complex of meters may be broken down into a chain of duple and triple pulses (MacPherson 1930, 5; Scholes 1977) either by addition or division. According to Pierre Boulez
Pierre Boulez
Pierre Boulez is a French composer of contemporary classical music, a pianist, and a conductor.-Early years:Boulez was born in Montbrison, Loire, France. As a child he began piano lessons and demonstrated aptitude in both music and mathematics...

, beat structures beyond four, in western music, are "simply not natural". Western
Classical music
Classical music is the art music produced in, or rooted in, the traditions of Western liturgical and secular music, encompassing a broad period from roughly the 11th century to present times...

rhythms are usually arranged with respect to a time signature
Time signature
The time signature is a notational convention used in Western musical notation to specify how many beats are in each measure and which note value constitutes one beat....

, partially signifying a meter usually corresponding to measure length and grouped into either two or three beats, which are called duple meter
Duple meter
Duple meter is a musical metre characterized by a primary division of 2 beats to the bar, usually indicated by 2 and multiples or 6 and multiples in the upper figure of the time signature, with 2/2 , 2/4, and 6/8 being the most common examples...

and triple meter, respectively. If the beats are in consistently even or odd groups of two, three, or four, it is simple meter, if by admixtures of two and three it is compound meter. In other systems of music such as Indian classical music
Indian classical music
The origins of Indian classical music can be found in the Vedas, which are the oldest scriptures in the Hindu tradition. Indian classical music has also been significantly influenced by, or syncretised with, Indian folk music and Persian music. The Samaveda, one of the four Vedas, describes music...

rhythms may be grouped into various number of beats. In some music styles such as Yakshagana
Yakshagana Tala
Yakshagana Tala , is a rhythmical pattern in Yakshagana that is determined by a composition called Yakshagana Padya. Tala also decides how a composition is enacted by dancers. It is similar to Tala in other forms of Indian music, but is structurally different from them...

even group rhythms into fractional beats.

Tempo and duration

(See main articles; Duration (music), Tempo
Tempo
In musical terminology, tempo is the speed or pace of a given piece. Tempo is a crucial element of any musical composition, as it can affect the mood and difficulty of a piece.-Measuring tempo:...

)

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
BPM
- Organizations :*BPM , a satellite radio channel*BPM , an American magazine* Bank Pertanian Malaysia, a financial institution in Malaysia* Banca Popolare di Milano, a financial institution in Italy...

): 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
Pulse (music)
In music and music theory, the pulse or tactus consists of beats in a series of identical yet distinct periodic short-duration stimuli perceived as points in time occurring at the mensural level...

or several pulses. 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;:
• Supershort: a single cycle of an audible wave, approximately 1/30-1/10,000 second (30-10,000 Hz or more than 1,800 bpm). These, though rhythmic in nature, are not perceived as separate events but as continuous musical pitch
Pitch (music)
Pitch is an auditory perceptual property that allows the ordering of sounds on a frequency-related scale.Pitches are compared as "higher" and "lower" in the sense associated with musical melodies,...

.
• Short: of the order of one second (1 Hz, 60bpm, 10-100,000 audio cycles). Musical tempo is generally specified in the range 40 to 240 beats per minute. A continuous pulse cannot be perceived as a musical beat if it is faster than 8-10 per second (8–10 Hz, 480-600 bpm) or slower than 1 per 1.5 – 2 seconds (0.6-0.5 Hz, 40-30 bpm). Too fast a beat becomes a drone
Drone (music)
In music, a drone is a harmonic or monophonic effect or accompaniment where a note or chord is continuously sounded throughout most or all of a piece. The word drone is also used to refer to any part of a musical instrument that is just used to produce such an effect.-A musical effect:A drone...

, too slow a succession of sounds seems unconnected. This time-frame roughly corresponds to the human heart rate
Heart rate
Heart rate is the number of heartbeats per unit of time, typically expressed as beats per minute . Heart rate can vary as the body's need to absorb oxygen and excrete carbon dioxide changes, such as during exercise or sleep....

and to the duration of a single step, syllable or rhythmic gesture.
• Medium: ≥ few seconds, This median durational level "defines rhythm in music" as it allows the definition of a rhythmic unit, the arrangement of an entire sequence of accented, unaccented and silent or "rest
Rest (music)
A rest is an interval of silence in a piece of music, marked by a sign indicating the length of the pause. Each rest symbol corresponds with a particular note value:The quarter rest may also be found as a form in older music....

" pulses into the cell
Cell (music)
The 1957 Encyclopédie Larousse defines a cell in music as a "small rhythmic and melodic design that can be isolated, or can make up one part of a thematic context." The cell may be distinguished from the figure or motif:...

s of a measure that may give rise to the "briefest intelligible and self-existent musical unit", a motif
Motif (music)
In music, a motif or motive is a short musical idea, a salient recurring figure, musical fragment or succession of notes that has some special importance in or is characteristic of a composition....

or figure
Figure (music)
A musical figure is the shortest idea in music, a short succession of notes, often recurring. It may have melodic pitch, harmonic progression and rhythmic . The 1964 Grove's Dictionary defines the figure as "the exact counterpart of the German 'motiv' and the French 'motif'": it produces a "single...

. This may be further organized, by repetition and variation, into a definite phrase that may characterise an entire genre of music, dance or poetry and that may be regarded as the fundamental formal unit of music.
• Long: ≥ many seconds or a minute, corresponding to a durational unit that "consists of musical phrases" which may make up a melody, a formal section, a poetic stanza
Stanza
In poetry, a stanza is a unit within a larger poem. In modern poetry, the term is often equivalent with strophe; in popular vocal music, a stanza is typically referred to as a "verse"...

or a characteristic sequence
Sequence dance
Sequence dancing is a form of dance in which a preset pattern of movements is followed, usually to music which is also predetermined. Sequence dancing may include dances of many different styles. The term may include ballroom dances which move round the floor as well as line, square and circle...

of dance moves and steps
Dance move
Dance moves or dance steps are the building blocks of many dances.More complex dance moves are called dance patterns, dance figures or dance variations....

. Thus the temporal regularity of musical organisation includes the most elementary levels of musical form
• Very long: ≥ minutes or many hours, musical compositions or subdivisions of compositions.

Curtis Roads is a composer of electronic and electroacoustic music specializing in granular and pulsar synthesis, author, and computer programmer....

takes a wider view by distinguishing nine time scales, this time in order of decreasing duration. The first two, the infinite and the supramusical, 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 microsecond
Microsecond
A microsecond is an SI unit of time equal to one millionth of a second. Its symbol is µs.A microsecond is equal to 1000 nanoseconds or 1/1000 millisecond...

s, and finally the infinitesimal
Infinitesimal
Infinitesimals have been used to express the idea of objects so small that there is no way to see them or to measure them. The word infinitesimal comes from a 17th century Modern Latin coinage infinitesimus, which originally referred to the "infinite-th" item in a series.In common speech, an...

or infinitely brief, are again in the extra-musical domain. Roads' Macro level, encompassing "overall musical architecture or form
Musical form
The term musical form refers to the overall structure or plan of a piece of music, and it describes the layout of a composition as divided into sections...

" roughly corresponds to Moravcsik's "very long" division while his Meso level, the level of "divisions of form" including movement
Movement (music)
A movement is a self-contained part of a musical composition or musical form. While individual or selected movements from a composition are sometimes performed separately, a performance of the complete work requires all the movements to be performed in succession...

s, section
Section (music)
In music, a section is "a complete, but not independent musical idea". Types of sections include the introduction or intro, exposition, recapitulation, verse, chorus or refrain, conclusion, coda or outro, fadeout, bridge or interlude...

s, phrase
Phrase (music)
In music and music theory, phrase and phrasing are concepts and practices related to grouping consecutive melodic notes, both in their composition and performance...

s taking seconds or minutes, is likewise similar to Moravcsik's "long" category. Roads' Sound object
Sound object
In music a sound object , a generalization of the concept of a musical note, is any sound from any source which in duration is on the time scale of 100 ms to several seconds....

(Schaeffer 1959, 1977): "a basic unit of musical structure" and a generalization of note (Xenakis' ministructural time scale); fraction of a second to several seconds, and his Microsound
Microsound
Microsound includes all sounds on the time scale shorter than musical notes, the sound object time scale, and longer than the sample time scale. Specifically this is shorter than one tenth of a second and longer than 10 milliseconds, including the audio frequency range and the infrasonic...

(see granular synthesis
Granular synthesis
Granular synthesis is a basic sound synthesis method that operates on the microsound time scale.It is based on the same principle as sampling. However, the samples are not played back conventionally, but are instead split into small pieces of around 1 to 50ms. These small pieces are called grains...

) 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

(See main articles; Metre (music)
Metre (music)
Meter or metre is a term that music has inherited from the rhythmic element of poetry 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...

, Measure (music), Metre (poetry))

The study of rhythm, stress, and pitch
Pitch (music)
Pitch is an auditory perceptual property that allows the ordering of sounds on a frequency-related scale.Pitches are compared as "higher" and "lower" in the sense associated with musical melodies,...

in speech is called prosody
Prosody (linguistics)
In linguistics, prosody is the rhythm, stress, and intonation of speech. Prosody may reflect various features of the speaker or the utterance: the emotional state of the speaker; the form of the utterance ; the presence of irony or sarcasm; emphasis, contrast, and focus; or other elements of...

: it is a topic in linguistics
Linguistics
Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. Linguistics can be broadly broken into three categories or subfields of study: language form, language meaning, and language in context....

and poetics
Poetics
Aristotle's Poetics is the earliest-surviving work of dramatic theory and the first extant philosophical treatise to focus on literary theory...

, where it means the number of lines in a verse
Verse (poetry)
A verse is formally a single line in a metrical composition, e.g. poetry. However, the word has come to represent any division or grouping of words in such a composition, which traditionally had been referred to as a stanza....

, 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
Meter (music)
Meter or metre is a term that music has inherited from the rhythmic element of poetry 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...

" from the terminology of poetry.

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 (Wittlich 1975, chapt. 3). The terminology of western music is notoriously imprecise in this area (Scholes 1977). MacPherson (1930, 3) preferred to speak of "time" and "rhythmic shape", Imogen 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 (1983) defines the tango, for example, as to be danced in 2/4 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 2/4 measure.

The general classifications of metrical rhythm, measured rhythm, and free rhythm may be distinguished. 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
In music, additive and divisive are terms used to distinguish two types of both rhythm and meter.A divisive rhythm is a rhythm in which a larger period of time is divided into smaller rhythmic units or, conversely, some integer unit is regularly multiplied into larger, equal units; this can be...

)also calculates each time value is 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
Chant
Chant is the rhythmic speaking or singing of words or sounds, often primarily on one or two pitches called reciting tones. Chants may range from a simple melody involving a limited set of notes to highly complex musical structures Chant (from French chanter) is the rhythmic speaking or singing...

, which has a basic pulse but a freer rhythm, like the rhythm of prose compared to that of verse (Scholes 1977) See Free time (music)
Free time (music)
Free time is a type of musical meter free from musical time and time signature. It is used when a piece of music has no discernible beat. Instead, the rhythm is intuitive and free-flowing. There are five ways in which a piece is indicated to be in free time:...

.

Finally some music, such as some graphically scored works since the 1950s and non-European music such as Honkyoku
Honkyoku
Honkyoku are the pieces of shakuhachi or hocchiku music played by mendicant Japanese Zen monks called komusō. Komusō played honkyoku for enlightenment and alms as early as the 13th century. Honkyoku is the practice of suizen...

repertoire for shakuhachi
Shakuhachi
The is a Japanese end-blown flute. It is traditionally made of bamboo, but versions now exist in ABS and hardwoods. It was used by the monks of the Fuke school of Zen Buddhism in the practice of...

, 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
Time
Time is a part of the measuring system used to sequence events, to compare the durations of events and the intervals between them, and to quantify rates of change such as the motions of objects....

to measure how long it will take to play the bar (Forney and Machlis 2007).

Composite rhythm

A composite rhythm is the durations and patterns (rhythm) produced by amalgamating all sounding part
Part (music)
1) A part is a strand or melody of music played by an individual instrument or voice within a larger work. Parts may be referred to as an outer part or an inner part . Part-writing is the composition of parts in consideration of harmony and counterpoint...

s of a musical texture
Texture (music)
In music, texture is the way the melodic, rhythmic, and harmonic materials are combined in a composition , thus determining the overall quality of sound of a piece...

. In music of the common practice period
Common practice period
The common practice period, in the history of Western art music , spanning the Baroque, Classical, and Romantic periods, lasted from c. 1600 to c. 1900.-General characteristics:...

, the composite rhythm usually confirms the meter
Meter (music)
Meter or metre is a term that music has inherited from the rhythmic element of poetry 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...

, often in metric
Meter (music)
Meter or metre is a term that music has inherited from the rhythmic element of poetry 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...

or even-note patterns identical to the pulse
Pulse (music)
In music and music theory, the pulse or tactus consists of beats in a series of identical yet distinct periodic short-duration stimuli perceived as points in time occurring at the mensural level...

on a specific metric level.

Rhythm notation

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
Griot
A griot or jeli is a West African storyteller. The griot delivers history as a poet, praise singer, and wandering musician. The griot is a repository of oral tradition. As such, they are sometimes also called bards...

tradition of Africa everything related to music has been passed on orally. Babatunde Olatunji
Babatunde Olatunji
Babatunde Olatunji was a Nigerian drummer, educator, social activist and recording artist.- Biography :Olatunji was born in the village of Ajido, a small town near Badagry, Lagos State, in southwestern Nigeria. A member of the Yoruba people, Olatunji was introduced to traditional African music at...

(1927–2003), a Nigerian drummer who lived and worked in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, 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
Djembe
A djembe also known as jembe, jenbe, djbobimbe, jymbe, yembe, or jimbay, or sanbanyi in Susu; is a skin-covered drum meant played with bare hands....

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

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
Sheila Chandra
Sheila Chandra is an English pop singer of Indian descent.-Indian-Western pop fusion period:Sheila Chandra first came to public attention as an actress, playing Sudhamani Patel in the BBC school drama Grange Hill from 1979 to 1981.As a teenager she formed the band Monsoon with Steve Coe , and...

, an English pop singer of Indian descent, made performances based on her singing these patterns. In Indian Classical music
Indian classical music
The origins of Indian classical music can be found in the Vedas, which are the oldest scriptures in the Hindu tradition. Indian classical music has also been significantly influenced by, or syncretised with, Indian folk music and Persian music. The Samaveda, one of the four Vedas, describes music...

, the Tala
Tala (music)
Tāla, Taal or Tal is the term used in Indian classical music for the rhythmic pattern of any composition and for the entire subject of rhythm, roughly corresponding to metre in Western music, though closer conceptual equivalents are to be found in other Asian classical systems such as the notion...

of a composition is the rhythmic pattern over which the whole piece is structured.

Western music

In the 20th century, composers like Igor Stravinsky
Igor Stravinsky
Igor Fyodorovich Stravinsky ; 6 April 1971) was a Russian, later naturalized French, and then naturalized American composer, pianist, and conductor....

, Béla Bartók
Béla Bartók
Béla Viktor János Bartók was a Hungarian composer and pianist. He is considered one of the most important composers of the 20th century and is regarded, along with Liszt, as Hungary's greatest composer...

, Philip Glass
Philip Glass
Philip Glass is an American composer. He is considered to be one of the most influential composers of the late 20th century and is widely acknowledged as a composer who has brought art music to the public .His music is often described as minimalist, along with...

, and Steve Reich
Steve Reich
Stephen Michael "Steve" Reich is an American composer who together with La Monte Young, Terry Riley, and Philip Glass is a pioneering composer of minimal music...

wrote more rhythmically complex music using odd meters, and techniques such as phasing
Phasing
In the compositional technique phasing, the same part is played on two musical instruments, in steady but not identical tempo...

In music, additive and divisive are terms used to distinguish two types of both rhythm and meter.A divisive rhythm is a rhythm in which a larger period of time is divided into smaller rhythmic units or, conversely, some integer unit is regularly multiplied into larger, equal units; this can be...

. At the same time, modernists such as Olivier Messiaen
Olivier Messiaen
Olivier Messiaen was a French composer, organist and ornithologist, one of the major composers of the 20th century. His music is rhythmically complex ; harmonically and melodically it is based on modes of limited transposition, which he abstracted from his early compositions and improvisations...

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
New Complexity
In music, the New Complexity is a term dating from the 1980s, principally applied to composers seeking a "complex, multi-layered interplay of evolutionary processes occurring simultaneously within every dimension of the musical material" ....

. This use may be explained by a comment of John Cage
John Cage
John Milton Cage Jr. was an American composer, music theorist, writer, philosopher and artist. A pioneer of indeterminacy in music, electroacoustic music, and non-standard use of musical instruments, Cage was one of the leading figures of the post-war avant-garde...

'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
Drone (music)
In music, a drone is a harmonic or monophonic effect or accompaniment where a note or chord is continuously sounded throughout most or all of a piece. The word drone is also used to refer to any part of a musical instrument that is just used to produce such an effect.-A musical effect:A drone...

). In the 1930s, Henry Cowell
Henry Cowell
Henry Cowell was an American composer, music theorist, pianist, teacher, publisher, and impresario. His contribution to the world of music was summed up by Virgil Thomson, writing in the early 1950s:...

wrote music involving multiple simultaneous periodic rhythms and collaborated with Léon Thérémin
Léon Theremin
Léon Theremin was a Russian and Soviet inventor. He is most famous for his invention of the theremin, one of the first electronic musical instruments. He is also the inventor of interlace, a technique of improving the picture quality of a video signal, widely used in video and television technology...

to invent the Rhythmicon
Rhythmicon
The Rhythmicon—also known as the Polyrhythmophone—was the world's first electronic drum machine .-Development:...

, the first electronic rhythm machine
Drum machine
A drum machine is an electronic musical instrument designed to imitate the sound of drums or other percussion instruments. They are used in a variety of musical genres, not just purely electronic music...

, in order to perform them. Similarly, Conlon Nancarrow
Conlon Nancarrow
Conlon Nancarrow was a United States-born composer who lived and worked in Mexico for most of his life. He became a Mexican citizen in 1955.Nancarrow is best remembered for the pieces he wrote for the player piano...

wrote for the player piano
Player piano
A player piano is a self-playing piano, containing a pneumatic or electro-mechanical mechanism that operates the piano action via pre-programmed music perforated paper, or in rare instances, metallic rolls. The rise of the player piano grew with the rise of the mass-produced piano for the home in...

.

Use of polyrhythms in American music is generally traced to the influence of black culture through Dixieland
Dixieland
Dixieland music, sometimes referred to as Hot jazz, Early Jazz or New Orleans jazz, is a style of jazz music which developed in New Orleans at the start of the 20th century, and was spread to Chicago and New York City by New Orleans bands in the 1910s.Well-known jazz standard songs from the...

and Jazz
Jazz
Jazz is a musical style that originated at the beginning of the 20th century in African American communities in the Southern United States. It was born out of a mix of African and European music traditions. From its early development until the present, jazz has incorporated music from 19th and 20th...

styles. The effect of multiple soloing in these forms, often utilizing cross-rhythms
Cross-beat
In music, a cross-beat or cross-rhythm is a form of polyrhythm.Cross-rhythm. A rhythm in which the regular pattern of accents of the prevailing meter is contradicted by a conflicting pattern and not merely a momentary displacement that leaves the prevailing meter fundamentally unchallenged.—New...

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.

Rhythm in linguistics

In linguistics
Linguistics
Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. Linguistics can be broadly broken into three categories or subfields of study: language form, language meaning, and language in context....

, rhythm or isochrony is one of the three aspects of prosody
Prosody (linguistics)
In linguistics, prosody is the rhythm, stress, and intonation of speech. Prosody may reflect various features of the speaker or the utterance: the emotional state of the speaker; the form of the utterance ; the presence of irony or sarcasm; emphasis, contrast, and focus; or other elements of...

, along with stress
Stress (linguistics)
In linguistics, stress is the relative emphasis that may be given to certain syllables in a word, or to certain words in a phrase or sentence. The term is also used for similar patterns of phonetic prominence inside syllables. The word accent is sometimes also used with this sense.The stress placed...

and intonation
Intonation (linguistics)
In linguistics, intonation is variation of pitch while speaking which is not used to distinguish words. It contrasts with tone, in which pitch variation does distinguish words. Intonation, rhythm, and stress are the three main elements of linguistic prosody...

. Languages can be categorized according to whether they are syllable-timed or stress-timed. Speakers of syllable-timed languages such as Spanish
Spanish language
Spanish , also known as Castilian , is a Romance language in the Ibero-Romance group that evolved from several languages and dialects in central-northern Iberia around the 9th century and gradually spread with the expansion of the Kingdom of Castile into central and southern Iberia during the...

and Cantonese put roughly equal time on each syllable; in contrast, speakers of stressed-timed languages such as English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

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 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
Syncopation
In music, syncopation includes a variety of rhythms which are in some way unexpected in that they deviate from the strict succession of regularly spaced strong and weak but also powerful beats in a meter . These include a stress on a normally unstressed beat or a rest where one would normally be...

and suggests the concept of transformation
Transformation (music)
In music, a transformation consists of any operation or process that may apply to a musical variable in composition, performance, or analysis. Transformations include multiplication, rotation, permutation In music, a transformation consists of any operation or process that may apply to a musical...

.

• Meter (music)
Meter (music)
Meter or metre is a term that music has inherited from the rhythmic element of poetry 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...

• Drumming
Drumming
Drumming may refer to:* the act of playing the drums or other percussion instruments**Drummer a musician who plays a drum, drum kit or drums* Drumming, a musical composition written by Steve Reich in 1971 for percussion ensemble...

• Polyrhythm
Polyrhythm
Polyrhythm is the simultaneous sounding of two or more independent rhythms.Polyrhythm in general is a nonspecific term for the simultaneous occurrence of two or more conflicting rhythms, of which cross-rhythm is a specific and definable subset.—Novotney Polyrhythms can be distinguished from...

• Cross-rhythm
• Prosody (linguistics)
Prosody (linguistics)
In linguistics, prosody is the rhythm, stress, and intonation of speech. Prosody may reflect various features of the speaker or the utterance: the emotional state of the speaker; the form of the utterance ; the presence of irony or sarcasm; emphasis, contrast, and focus; or other elements of...

• Timing (linguistics)
Timing (linguistics)
Isochrony is the postulated rhythmic division of time into equal portions by a language. Isochrony is one of the three aspects of prosody, the others being intonation and stress.Three alternative ways in which a language can divide time are postulated:...