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Polyrhythm

Posted: Tue Jul 11, 2006 6:38 pm
by DJ Racist Haircut
Evening!

I am interested in polyrhythm, as a musical concept and construct.

I was wondering if anybody has any recommendations for good examples of tunes, breaks, house, techno or otherwise which have polyrhythmic elements (either in terms of drums or melody), or any advice on constructing polyrhythms.

Or indeed any other thoughts on the matter, sensible or otherwise. Preferably sensible.

Cheers

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polyrhythm

Posted: Tue Jul 11, 2006 8:57 pm
by j hazen
john tejada's "The End Of It All" (the very first melody in it, that continues throughout the track) and parts of booka shade's "White Room" (3:54-4:10 and 4:56 to 5:25) both employ very simple polyrhythms. white room is probably the most obvious and simple, especially since it switches basically the same riff back and forth between polyrhythm (at the times i mentioned above) and more standard rhythm. and both of these happen to be excellent tracks so they're worth checking out anyway.

i think they're both on beatport. if the lightbulb doesn't go off over your head after hearing these i'm not sure what'll help!

Posted: Tue Jul 11, 2006 10:34 pm
by TakeRecords
check out schism by tool

Posted: Wed Jul 12, 2006 12:36 am
by Walter Odington
I am liking this thread alot!



...its great to absorb from musicians...

Posted: Wed Jul 12, 2006 11:14 am
by TakeRecords
i didn't even know what polyrhythm is i had to look it up. it's really simple and massively used concept though as it turns out - i could think of a bunch of examples of it off the top of my head - another one:

Fichespooner - Kick in the teeth (tiefschwarz remix)

Posted: Wed Jul 12, 2006 11:45 am
by Ben
Someone explain, I have no idea what your talking about.

Although I've been caining 'in white rooms' recently so I guess I like the polywhatsits whatever they are.

Posted: Wed Jul 12, 2006 11:52 am
by Walter Odington
old hardcore had alot of plyrythms with all the overlayered breaks


still dont know what they are! ;)



musical types, provide us with some midi file polyrythms! (there are only 2 on that site, we need more)

Posted: Wed Jul 12, 2006 12:08 pm
by TakeRecords
in the really simple case:

* drums: kick snare snare snare on the downbeat in 4x4
* lead sound: is in 5x4 going c-d-e-f-g

over the course of one bar they don't resolve rhythmically but over the course of 20beats they do (multiple the numerators) - i.e. the c lands on the kick every 20 beats.

you could also do it with pure rhytmn but you will only hear the effect if you have an accent on the first beat of the bar.

i guarantee everyone knows this musical device intuitively...

EDIT: i said bars instead of beats doh

Posted: Wed Jul 12, 2006 12:19 pm
by Ben
Ahha, one of my favourite types of pattern then :idea:

Posted: Wed Jul 12, 2006 2:15 pm
by j hazen
yea, just check out the patterns with all the X's on the wikepedia page.

open up your sequencer, load up any two sounds, make one pattern like this for a bunch of measures:

x - - - x - - - x - - - x - - -
and one like this for a bunch of measures:
x - - x - - x - - x - - x - - x

so when you combine them:
x - - - x - - - x - - - x - - -
x - - x - - x - - x - - x - - x

the text is slightly skewed, but you can see how the bottom hits one step earlier than the last (in relation to the top rhythm) ever time a new note comes in. and eventually they meet up and the whole thing starts over again. whether its a 4 against 3 or whatever against whatever, they line up after different amounts of time.


a lot of times its used, like in those sections in white room, they'll put a little hitch or pause in it so it resets when they want it to, as opposed to when the pattern would naturally resolve. if you notice on the polyrhythmic parts in that track, it doesn't just do a pure polyrhythm over and over and over again. the riff in that section is four bars long, and since the polyrhythm doesn't resolve and 'match up' with itself every four bars, they just toss in an extra little pause where it repeats so that they can realign the rhythms on the next downbeat.

just so you can hear it too, the white room track goes like this:

the drum pattern is basic house:

x - - - x - - - x - - - x - - - x - - - x - - - x - - - x - - - x - - - x - - - x - - -x - - - x - - - x - - - x - - - x - - -

then the melody actually starts on the up-beat of the first beat. if you wrap it around you'll see that between the last beat of the melody and the first beat of the following repetition, instead of having 2 blank steps in between, there is three. just resets the polyrhythm when they want it to (wrap it around and repeat the patter below, at the wraparound point, there are 3 '- - -'s instead of 2 like the rest of the pattern.

- - x - - x - - x - - x - - x - - x - - x - - x - - x - - x - - x - - x - - x - - x - - x - - x - - x - - x - - x - - x - - x -

so while every beat of the drums is identical:

1 x - - -
2 x - - -
3 x - - -
4 x - - -
1 x - - -
2 x - - -
3 x - - -
4 x - - -

when you lay the melody pattern over the drums it lines up like this (it doesn't start on 'x' because they wait until the first upbeat of beat #1):

1 - - x -
2 - x - -
3 x - - x
1 - - x -
2 - x - -
3 x - - x

so this one looks like a 4:3 polyrhythm... by the time the x - - - and x - - pattern would line up naturally and hit on the same step again, one sounded 3 times and the other 4. its identical to the second "x" example on the wikipedia page, but in the booka shade track, they mix it up a little, starting the melody pattern on an upbeat and then resetting the whole thing at the end of the fourth measure of the melody riff by adding in one more blank step between melody notes, very easy to feel the slight pause in there.

Posted: Wed Jul 12, 2006 3:47 pm
by TakeRecords
i think if you're being strict a polyrhythm can't have little hitches in it to reset it. technically it changes the time signature.

but

who really cares cause the point of the polyrhythm is to create two rhythms that push and pull against each other so it's not so important how you do it.

Posted: Wed Jul 12, 2006 4:26 pm
by edb
it's all about phase music imo

Posted: Wed Jul 12, 2006 6:10 pm
by j hazen
DandyP wrote:i think if you're being strict a polyrhythm can't have little hitches in it to reset it. technically it changes the time signature.

but

who really cares cause the point of the polyrhythm is to create two rhythms that push and pull against each other so it's not so important how you do it.
its not a black and white/solid line type of thing. just because something has a pure polyrhythm for 3+ measures and then one 'adjustment' or reset doesn't make those 3+ measures not polyrhythmic. in fact i'd say the vast majority of polyrhythms aren't perfect, they don't just set up the patterns and let them run uninterrupted for the entire time. for instance, a pattern could have one of the notes in it replaced with a rest and still maintain the polyrhythmic feel. or you could have something progress through different types, going from a 4:3 to a 5:4 to whatever.

as far as changing the time signature goes, if anything "resetting" a polyrhythm allows it fit more neatly within the confines of a given time signature. the grid of 4 quarter notes per measure, 16 sixteenth notes, is the framework that it all fits in (in the one track we're talking about at least)...in effect playing a pure polyrhythm is like playing two time signatures simultaneously. in the case of this one, its almost like a 3/4 (actually its more like 12/8...that's the thing, it doesn't change what's actually happening, just how we name it) time sig melody over a 4/4 time sig beat...that's why it sounds so interesting and has the staggered alignment. its not really though, its all 4/4 in this one, the melody just fits inside that framework differently.

and just to clarify, the melody is the only thing that hitches, its just one 16th note hesitation, its right there plain as day to hear at the end of the 4 bar repetition. the beat underneath clearly pounding out a 4/4 time sig just shows even more clearly the time sig isn't doesn't change.

"polyrhythm" is just a label for that idea really... two or more independent rhythms played at once, no length restrictions on it. some of the examples on that wikepedia link are shorter than one measure.

Posted: Wed Jul 12, 2006 7:53 pm
by DJ Racist Haircut
Much traditional African music is polyrhythmic. This much I learnt from my djembe lessons.

Posted: Wed Jul 12, 2006 7:57 pm
by DJ Racist Haircut