Rhythm Blog

Musings of a Rhythm Monk

About Me

This blog is (I hope) about music as a central component of life as seen through the perspective of a musician, percussionist, and seeker of spiritual wisdom . I’ve been a student of rhythm ever since I can remember. (although I didn’t learn how to clap in time to music until I was five years old). My early musical education came from my family and was mostly due to absorption through osmosis. Raised by a musician, I was exposed to many forms of western music — Folk, R&B, jazz, rock, symphonic music (mostly movie soundtracks), and whatever was happening in

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In the flow

In “Anatomy of Rhythm” I lay out a means by which the student of rhythm can map out various rhythmic patterns to a significant degree of complexity. This model serves as a way to understand the theoretical structure of most global rhythmic systems. The next step is to learn how to apply this theoretical knowledge to your instrument(s) of choice.  “Flow technique” is a strategy that is especially useful . There are hundreds or possibly thousands of types of drums which may require many different approaches to technique.  As such it is beyond the scope of this post to apply

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Structure and Content

In Rhythm As Motion I discuss the value of learning rhythm by learning the underlying components that are common to all metronomic rhythmic systems. As an aspect of that I would like to discuss the difference between structure and content. In “Exploring music Deconstructively” I explore different methods for identifying pulse and meter and acknowledge that there are occasionally multiple “right answers”. The reason for this is that when you only have the content (what you hear), you are reliant only on the music as you hear it to make sense of  what is happening. As a participant in the

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Rhythm as Motion

All music comes from the same place – the canvas of silence. What is placed on the canvas is where the differentiation of one piece of music from another occurs. Are we creating a Western classical symphony? An Irish drinking song? An Indian raga? As students of rhythm, we learn that most, if not all, of the forms of rhythmic material have some kind of structure. World percussion students often spend much of their time studying the patterns (commonly called “rhythms”) of different forms of world music – patterns (and families of patterns) with names like shiftaatellii, samba, jig, fanga,

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Taking up the Practice… and practicing!

In “Interior and Exterior Experiences of Music,” I discuss the importance of development on both  technical/theoretical and experiential/expressive domains. Clearly, the most important aspect of this is practice, the question is how.  Our approach to practice plays a significant role in our development and can make the difference between growing as artists, stagnating, or even becoming so discouraged that we decide to quit altogether. First, it should be noted that without some form of practice, we usually do not develop very much at all. So it is especially important for the beginning student of music to make a commitment to

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Interior and exterior experience of music

If I ask you to thoroughly describe Shakespeare’s Hamlet – could you do it (assuming you have read/seen it)?  Your could tell me it’s in English, that it’s believed to have been written between 1599 and 1601.  You could count the words in the play, the nouns and verbs – or the sentences,  or the number of acts. You would probably also tell me about the setting, characters, and the plot.  You might describe the struggle from the famous soliloquy, Hamlet’s madness – feigned or real, or Ophelia’s death. You might describe the sense of betrayal Hamlet feels about his

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Body Knowledge and movement

My dad (from whom I learned a great deal about music) used to say, “If it don’t make my head move, it ain’t happenin’.”  A succinct way to say that music has to happen in the body. I believe this to be true of all great music, and all great musicians. I have never witnessed a great performance where the performer was stiff. Nor have I ever heard great music that I didn’t also feel in my body. For students of music, development of body knowledge is as important a step in mastery of music and your instrument as any

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