The Nature of Time - Part 3

Reconstruct Yourself - On the Nature of Rhythm

Rhythm is a series of events moving forward through time.

I'll repeat that: Rhythm is a series of events moving forward through time. 

The standard way of thinking of this is 2 dimensional. We think of flat notes on a flat page, and a sequence of these notes moving from left to right as the music progresses.

But think about it, music is actually 4 dimensional. The notes off of the page aren't flat, but radiate outwards in all directions. If we can imagine each note on a page creating a sound, this sound would be spherical. They each have height, width, and depth. But, they also move through time, not just space, so there is the added dimension of time.

Let's look at this in action: take your drum stick and hit a cymbal. Now imagine the sound radiating outwards in a sphere from where your stick touches the cymbal. No matter where someone would stand in the room, they would hear the cymbal.

Now play another note, imagine that one radiating outwards. Now play a third and a fourth note. Imagine each sound radiating outwards, but think of it in time, how none of these notes is sounded at exactly the same time. Rather, they follow each other forward through time. Now imagine these spheres of sound radiating outwards and meeting, interacting with each other (remember back to your childhood when you blew soap bubbles. Single bubbles were perfectly spherical, but when 2 or more bubbles met and connected, they changed shape due to the affect they had on each other—your notes are like bubbles of sound).

Play a continuous pattern and think about how each note played will interact and affect the ones after it. These notes are not just separate notes, but part of a stream of time. The great drummers play like each note is related to the next. They know that they effect each other and should create a cohesive rhythm. 

Now think about how you play. Do you play each note separately, without regard for the others? Or do you pay attention to how they interact and affect each other?

~ MB


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