Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Polyrhythms= "many" rhythms

According to The Harvard Dictionary of Music Fourth Edition edited by Don Randel, polyrhythm is the use of two or more rhythms simultaneously, which are not of the same meter. The listener is made aware of two or more contrasting rhythmic streams in a polyrhythmic piece.
Picture two people taking two different step sizes to get from on point to another; the distance traveled is the same, but the people only make perfectly overlapping steps once that set distance has been covered. This is the case with polyrhythm, the same distance is traveled with the notes, but the rhythms are different.
Polyrhythm is common in twentieth-century music and in certain African songs.