Best answer: What does polyrhythm mean in African music?

Polyrhythms are two or more rhythms played simultaneously at the same tempo. African music often uses percussion instruments.

What does polyrhythm mean?

Polyrhythm, also called Cross-rhythm, the simultaneous combination of contrasting rhythms in a musical composition. Rhythmic conflicts, or cross-rhythms, may occur within a single metre (e.g., two eighth notes against triplet eighths) or may be reinforced by simultaneous combinations of conflicting metres.

Why is polyrhythm important in African drumming?

As the use of rhythms here was developed by slaves, the layers are also used to tell a story. Lighter primary polyrhythms on certain instruments were played alongside another rhythm (usually played on the drum) which delivered a secret message that could not be understood by invaders or slave owners.

What genres use polyrhythms?

They are definitely there, but really polyrhythms prevail in genres such as jazz and traditional African music, and some metal, and some experimental music; for example, Nine Inch Nails makes a lot of use of them.

What effect does using polyrhythm in a piece of music have?

The rhythmic tension and release found in polyrhythms makes them danceable, aurally interesting, and more expressive than your typical four-on-the-floor rhythm. In Western music, the typical rhythm has a marked emphasis on beat one, and every other beat in the bar is considered a secondary beat.

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What are the 4 types of rhythm?

We can use five types of rhythm:

  • Random Rhythm.
  • Regular Rhythm.
  • Alternating Rhythm.
  • Flowing Rhythm.
  • Progressive Rhythm.


What are three rhythms?

3 Types of Rhythm

  • repetition which creates patterns through predictability.
  • alternation which creates patterns through contrasting pairs (thick/thin, dark/light)
  • gradation which creates patterns through a progression of regular steps.


What are the characteristics of African drumming?

Features of these elements include:

  • polyrhythms are created by layering different rhythms together.
  • dynamics are changed depending on the force with which the drum is hit.
  • dynamics are not written down on a score – the leader signals changes in dynamics during the performance.

What is the most important element of African music?

The music of West Africa is characterized by two main aspects: rhythm and melody. The rhythm is generally the most important, and West African songs are polyrhythmic featuring two or more conflicting rhythms.

What are the 5 most important features of African music?

Aerophones (wind)

  • Flutes (bamboo, horn)
  • Ocarinas.
  • Panpipes.
  • Horns from animal tusks.
  • Trumpets wood or metal.
  • Pipes being single or double reeds.
  • Whistle.

What is a 3 against 2 polyrhythm?

3:2 polyrhythm: Known as hemiola, this triple-over-duple polyrhythm involves a three-note rhythm held over a two-note rhythmic pattern. Typically, this involves triplets over quarter notes or eighth notes.

What is the purpose of ostinato in African traditional music?


Musical instruments in traditional African music often serve as a modal and/or rhythmic support for vocal music. Instrumental Music can also be heard frequently without vocal music and to a lesser extent solo. Harmony produced through ostinato produced on instruments is common place.

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Is African music a polyrhythm?

Polyrhythms are two or more rhythms played simultaneously at the same tempo. African music often uses percussion instruments.

What is the difference between on the beat and syncopation?

So in syncopated music the stress is on the longer note between the beats, while off-beat can be played as the rhythmical accompaniment straight between the beats – and more and less accentuated – or really as a suspended or deferred accent.

Hai Afrika!