Three evenly-spaced sets of three attack-points span two measures. Cross-rhythm[ edit ] Cross-rhythm refers to systemic polyrhythm. The New Harvard Dictionary of Music states that cross-rhythm is: "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" Two simple and common ways to express this pattern in standard western musical notation would be 3 quarter notes over 2 dotted quarter notes within one bar of 6 8 time, quarter note triplets over 2 quarter notes within one bar of 2 4 time. Other cross-rhythms are with 4 dotted eight notes over 3 quarter notes within a bar of 3 4 time as an example in standard western musical notation , , , , etc. Representation of 4 beats parallel to 5 beats There is a parallel between cross rhythms and musical intervals : in an audible frequency range, the ratio produces the musical interval of a perfect fifth , the ratio produces a perfect fourth , and the ratio produces a major third.
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Three evenly-spaced sets of three attack-points span two measures. Cross-rhythm[ edit ] Cross-rhythm refers to systemic polyrhythm. The New Harvard Dictionary of Music states that cross-rhythm is: "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" Two simple and common ways to express this pattern in standard western musical notation would be 3 quarter notes over 2 dotted quarter notes within one bar of 6 8 time, quarter note triplets over 2 quarter notes within one bar of 2 4 time.
Other cross-rhythms are with 4 dotted eight notes over 3 quarter notes within a bar of 3 4 time as an example in standard western musical notation , , , , etc.
Representation of 4 beats parallel to 5 beats There is a parallel between cross rhythms and musical intervals : in an audible frequency range, the ratio produces the musical interval of a perfect fifth , the ratio produces a perfect fourth , and the ratio produces a major third.
All these interval ratios are found in the harmonic series. These are called harmonic polyrhythms. Sub-Saharan African music traditions[ edit ] Comparing European and Sub-Saharan African meter[ edit ] In traditional European "Western" rhythms, the most fundamental parts typically emphasize the primary beats.
By contrast, in rhythms of sub-Saharan African origin, the most fundamental parts typically emphasize the secondary beats.
This often causes the uninitiated ear to misinterpret the secondary beats as the primary beats, and to hear the true primary beats as cross-beats. Cross-rhythm was first explained as the basis of non-Saharan rhythm in lectures by C. Ladzekpo and the writings of David Locke. From the philosophical perspective of the African musician, cross-beats can symbolize the challenging moments or emotional stress we all encounter. Many non-Saharan languages do not have a word for rhythm, or even music.
The technique of cross-rhythm is a simultaneous use of contrasting rhythmic patterns within the same scheme of accents or meter By the very nature of the desired resultant rhythm, the main beat scheme cannot be separated from the secondary beat scheme. It is the interplay of the two elements that produces the cross-rhythmic texture—Ladzekpo Victor Kofi Agawu succinctly states, "[The] resultant  rhythm holds the key to understanding The duple beats are primary and the triple beats are secondary.
The example below shows the African cross-rhythm within its proper metric structure. The music of African xylophones , such as the balafon and gyil , is often based on cross-rhythm. In the following example, a Ghanaian gyil sounds a based ostinato melody.
The left hand lower notes sounds the two main beats, while the right hand upper notes sounds the three cross-beats.
The following notated example is from the kushaura part of the traditional mbira piece "Nhema Mussasa". The mbira is a lamellophone.
The left hand plays the ostinato bass line while the right hand plays the upper melody. The composite melody is an embellishment of the cross-rhythm. Some instruments organize the pitches in a uniquely divided alternate array, not in the straight linear bass to treble structure that is so common to many western instruments such as the piano , harp , or marimba.
Hugh Tracey Treble Kalimba Lamellophones including mbira , mbila, mbira huru, mbira njari, mbira nyunga, marimba, karimba, kalimba , likembe, and okeme. This family of instruments are found in several forms indigenous to different regions of Africa and most often have equal tonal ranges for right and left hands.
The kalimba is a modern version of these instruments originated by the pioneer ethnomusicologist Hugh Tracey in the early 20th century which has over the years gained worldwide popularity. The Gravikord is a new American instrument closely related to both the African kora and the kalimba was created in the latter 20th century to also exploit this adaptive principle in a modern electro-acoustic instrument.
Also, the fingers of each hand can play separate independent rhythmic patterns, and these can easily cross over each other from treble to bass and back, either smoothly or with varying amounts of syncopation. This can all be done within the same tight tonal range, without the left and right hand fingers ever physically encountering each other.
This characteristically African structure allows often simple playing techniques to combine with each other to produce polyrhythmic music. Although not as common, use of systemic cross-rhythm is also found in jazz. In , Mongo Santamaria recorded " Afro Blue ", the first jazz standard built upon a typical African cross-rhythm two cycles of The following example shows the original ostinato "Afro Blue" bass line.
The cross noteheads indicate the main beats. This swung 3 4 is perhaps the most common example of overt cross-rhythm in jazz. In popular music[ edit ] Nigerian percussion master Babatunde Olatunji arrived on the American music scene in with his album Drums of Passion , which was a collection of traditional Nigerian music for percussion and chanting.
The album stayed on the charts for two years and had a profound impact on jazz and American popular music. Olatunji reached his greatest popularity during the height of the Black Arts Movement of the s and s. Afro-Cuban music makes extensive use of polyrhythms. Cuban Rumba uses 3-based and 2-based rhythms at the same time, for example, the lead drummer playing the quinto might play in 6 8, while the rest of the ensemble keeps playing 2 2.
Another form of polyrhythmic music is south Indian classical Carnatic music. A kind of rhythmic solfege called konnakol is used as a tool to construct highly complex polyrhythms and to divide each beat of a pulse into various subdivisions, with the emphasised beat shifting from beat cycle to beat cycle.
Common polyrhythms found in jazz are , which manifests as the quarter-note triplet; , usually in the form of dotted-quarter notes against quarter notes; , played as dotted-eighth notes against quarter notes this one demands some technical proficiency to perform accurately, and was not at all common in jazz before Tony Williams used it when playing with Miles Davis ; and finally 3 4 time against 4 Frank Zappa , especially towards the end of his career, experimented with complex polyrhythms, such as , and even nested polyrhythms see " The Black Page " for an example.
Five For Barbara: Has the polyrhythmic theme of 5 over 4. The Modulator: The beginning tempo modulates to two times faster and then modulates back to two times slower. Seventy Fourth Ave: Has the polyrhythmic theme of 7 over 4. Samba de Rollins: Includes a drum solo based on 3 over 4. Midnight Bolero: In 3 4, has a continuous interlude of 2 over 3 and then 4 over 3.
King Crimson used polyrhythms extensively in their album Discipline. The band Queen used polyrhythm in their song " The March of the Black Queen " with 8 8 and 12 8 time signatures.
One notable appearance is in the song "La Mer" from the album The Fragile. The piano holds a 3 4 riff while the drums and bass back it with a standard 4 4 signature. This song indeed does use polyrhythms in its melody. Japanese girl group Perfume made use of the technique in their single, appropriately titled " Polyrhythm ", included on their second album Game. The bridge of the song incorporates 5 8, 6 8 in the vocals, common time 4 4 and 3 2 in the drums. The Aaliyah song "Quit Hatin" uses 9 8 against 4 4 in the chorus.
The Japanese idol group makes use of polyrhythm in a number of their songs, most notably on their mini-album " Love Letter ", which features five songs that all include several rhythmic references to the number It is in bad form to teach a student to play polyrhythms as simply quarter note, eighth note, eighth note, quarter note.
The proper way is to establish sound bases for both the quarter-notes, and the triplet-quarters, and then to layer them upon each other, forming multiple rhythms. Beats are indicated with an X; rests are indicated with a blank.
Peter Magadini’s Polyrhythmic Life
The possibilities of two against three, three against four, and beyond are continually explored in jazz, rock, and other styles. For many a drummer across different genres, discussing polyrhythms often brings to mind Peter Magadini. Polyrhythms for the Drumset followed his first foray into the subject, then came the Jazz Drums DVD and two Learn to Play the Drumset instructional books; the latter have been reorganized and expanded as a complete text in the recently released All in One: Learn to Play the Drumset. Like so many players, Magadini began drumming as a student. Goals are different for different people, and I enjoy seeing people being creative at a musical instrument. One thing teaching does for me is keep my playing young.
Books / DVDs
Like so many players, Magadini began drumming as a student. Both volumes deal with polymeters and polyrhythmsand are presented, in a step-by-step manner, through exercises and etudes that progress from easy to difficult. While publishing his now classic book, Magadini continued teaching and playing. One person found this helpful. Then, when Magadini recorded his album Polyrhythm inDuke, by now with Frank Zappa, brought those keyboards along. He also has right the idea of how to thoroughly teach polyrhythmic abilities, and magadkni rhythmic dexterity.