TED Conversations

BGM Rhythms

Teacher, BGM Rhythms

This conversation is closed.

What is Rhythm?

What is rhythm?
I feel that rhythm is a descriptive force. As a drummer I give it a home through the playing of the drums and by developing technically. I develop my language skills in translating emotive thought into music. Here rhythm is the vestal carrying my ideas. Perhaps there are other ways to translate creative or emotive thought by using rhythm as a medium which haven't been developed yet.

As far as I know there have not been a great deal of modern conversations developing the idea of rhythm to a satisfactory level of understanding.

Philosophical Quotes – Source – A Philosophy of Rhythm, Lucille D. Lamkin. 1934

Aristoxenus, Disciple of Aristotle.
“Rhythm is an ordering (or a defined ordering) of times”

“Rhythm is the property of a sequence of events in time which produces on the mind of the observer the impression of proportion between the duration of several events or groups of events of which the sequence is composed”

According to William Thomson: “The most fundamental error made about rhythm is that it is 'an ordering of times'. The most fundamental truth about rhythm is that it is an ordering of blows.” (here blows means accents or stresses)

I would be interested to hear what your concept of rhythm is in your life, work, and creative thought and how it affects your perception of time (or not).

Ben Martin - BGM Rhythms


Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • Nov 26 2011: Rhythm may be the very definition of time. Without it, time is not perceptible. Animals experience events - humans experience/perceive time. It may also be that improvement in rhythm perception and performance corrects/modifies many anomalies such as ADD/ADHD, dyslexia, autism, etc. Significant research points in that direction, and functional magnetic resonance imaging confirms that rhythm activity actually modifies the brain.
    • thumb
      Nov 27 2011: Rhythm certainly is a definition of time but perhaps not the only. In a human context our perception of time definitely ebbs and flows depending on the activities we are taking part in. These activities seem to change our perception depending on how much of our concentration they take up. This makes time perception subjective as all our minds work in different ways. As soon as humans become objective time becomes measured in a different way. For example the measuring of light and the decay of atoms. Perhaps there is a different sort of rhythm present in this sort of observation?

      Do we not all experience events in the same way as animals but with the added illusion of the human condition? I know that animals experience and take enjoyment from hearing music and perhaps even benefit from music more as there power of analysis is less evolved. It is interesting to note the trend in some forms of music to overwhelm the senses in order to retrieve for the listener and musicians alike, a more animal state of arousal.

      As someone who is dyslexic and has been placed on the autistic spectrum I knew from day one on some level that the process of learning to drum (still ongoing) was helping me in many ways. I'm not certain exactly how though. Perhaps as a fluid form of expression without the type of logic required for spoken conversation in the case of aspergers and more certainly as a way of ordering my thoughts and honing coordination skills in the case of dyslexia.

      Thanks, look forward to your reply
      • Nov 27 2011: Thanks for the reply to my reply. This is an interesting conversation.

        Here is one possibility for the way that rhythm experiences affect the symptoms of dyslexia, etc.:

        We enter the world with no more understanding of time than animals have. We move through time marked only by experiences which require our reaction. But we have no perception or objective awareness of the time passing between those experiences. As we mature, most of us learn to mark/recognize time as a factor in what we experience and perceive. But some of us do not pick that up so naturally and automatically. Those of us who somehow miss that learning continue to move from one instantaneous experience to another without realizing the importance of time. Many continue that perception (or lack of perception) into adulthood.

        Rhythm experiences assist by forcing us to recognize the passing of time. Such experiences allow us to connect instantaneous experiences (each beat) to a larger bit of time (the time required for the entire piece of music). The relentless nature of the rhythm captures us because the instantaneous experiences come at us so frequently that we don't have time to take the mental side trips that often distract from a task that requires concentration.

        As a result, the brain is forced to recognize the relationship of small bits of time to longer periods of time. Repeating such experiences reinforces and encourages that perception, allowing the individual to finally recognize time as a quantifiable constant whether or not the instantaneous experiences are present.

        What do you think?
        • thumb
          Nov 27 2011: Its an intriguing thought that conditions such as dyslexia come from an in-ability to mark the passing of time through a subconscious recognition of rhythmic patterns in our environment.
          _is that what you are saying?
          Dose this come from research or is it speculative?

          I have always thought of these conditions as a gift of an altered or even enhanced perception, rather than as a lack of perception. The drawbacks being few compared to the creative and imaginative advantages (that is if you are lucky enough to be put in a position where you can take advantage of your condition).

          I can see your point about the perception of the passing of time being marked by our experiences. This fits in with the idea that perception is different for someone with the aforementioned conditions.
          I would however say perception is altered from the offset genetically and grows into a recognisable condition as the mind develops.

          Would be interesting to know about any tests on rhythm perception in the development of children with dyslexia ADHD etc. I wonder if this has been looked into?

          My hypothesis would be that a person with dyslexia or another inherited condition while still recognising rhythmic patterns in there environment. i.e. spoken word, written word and writing, mathematics, logical thought etc sees them from an altered view point. Perhaps a different part of the brain controls the retrieval of pattern recognition than that of a normal mind and therefore processes the information in what is perceived as a unique and creative way. This theory may be tested through trying to discover ways in which musical rhythms are interpreted and learned by people with these conditions.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.