Overview Of This Paper
This editorial serves a number of purposes. First, it aims at summarizing and discussing 33 accepted contributions to the special issue The evolution of rhythm cognition: Timing in music and speech. The major focus of the issue is the cognitive neuroscience of rhythm, intended as a neurobehavioral trait undergoing an evolutionary process. Second, this editorial provides the interested reader with a guide to navigate the interdisciplinary contributions to this special issue. For this purpose, we have compiled Table 1, where methods, topics, and study species are summarized and related across contributions. Third, we also briefly highlight research relevant to the evolution of rhythm that has appeared in other journals while this special issue was compiled. Altogether, this editorial constitutes a summary of rhythm research in music and speech spanning two years, from mid-2015 until mid-2017.
Table 1. Papers in this issue categorized along methodological and conceptual dimensions.
Speech Rhythm And Comparative Anatomy Of Vocal Tracts
In the evolution of speech, several studies have shown how vocal tracts in non-human primates are more flexible than previously thought. Other primates’ vocal tracts are capable of producing a human-like range of vowels and consonants . The overall conclusion is that the complexity of human speech, including its rhythmical nuances, must have neural, rather than morphological, bases .
Rhythm: A Multidisciplinary Field
In general, the long-time scales involved in evolutionary processes prevent direct observation. Sometimes the evolutionary dynamics of simple traits can be replicated in the lab: For instance, the evolution of learning in fruit flies can be directly observed . Instead, the evolution of human behavior and neurobiology requires a more indirect scientific method. This is why understanding the cognitive neuroscience of rhythm and its evolution calls for a tight integration of different perspectives . In particular, complementary approaches include but are not limited to:
developmental studies of rhythm that are useful in understanding whether rhythm perception and production involve critical acquisition periods, or instead result mostly from enculturation during the whole lifespan ,
comparative and cross-cultural studies of rhythm that serve to explain whether musical enculturation or exposure to specific languages can affect which specific rhythmic patterns can be produced/perceived and how frequently ,
comparisons of rhythm processing in music and speech, at both behavioral and neural levels that help understanding whether common music-speech networks exist and similar behavioral patterns can be observed when humans engage in music and speech production,
studies of rhythm in interaction and context , explaining how social, affective, and other factors affect the emergence of rhythmic patterns,
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Eeg And Frequency Tagging
Along a methodological dimension, empirical papers adopted three alternative approaches: corpus analyses, behavioral experiments or brain imaging/electrophysiology. It is interesting to note that all experimental papers in this issue that employed EEG also adopted a frequency-tagging approach , rather than a grand-average ERP method .
Why Is Rhythm In Music Important
Rhythm moves through the music as a generative force in several different ways and gives the composition structure.
It helps create the basic pulse of a song, and it helps create the feeling of familiarity and expectation for the listener.
Rhythm is a very important part of music that you cant think of playing with anyone without it. Just think of an orchestra with many musicians, and none of them have any rhythm. Then obviously, no one will like to hear their music.
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Simple Vs Compound Time
Simple and compound time are directly related to meter.
Meter defines how the rhythm is felt in terms of strong and weak beats.
Simple and compound time dictate whether a measures shorter notes are divided into groups of either two or three.
Simple time groups eighth notes into groups of two.
4/4 time is simple duple time. Its eight notes are counted ONE-and, two-and, THREE-and, four-and.
3/4 time is simple triple time. It is counted ONE-and, two-and, three-and.
Compound time groups eighth notes into groups of three.
6/8 and 9/8 are both examples of compound time.
In 6/8 compound duple time, notes are subdivided into two groups of three eighth notes.
The eighth notes could be counted ONE-and-a, TWO-and-a.
Drakes song Plastic Bag is a great example of a popular song that follows a 6/8 rhythm.
In 9/8 compound triple time notes are subdivided into three groups of three eighth notes.
The eighth notes are counted ONE-and-a, TWO-and-a, THREE-and-a.
Dave Brubecks famous jazz track Blue Rondo A La Turk makes use of compound 9/8 time.
This track alternates between compound and odd 9/8 time, see if you can spot the difference!
But That Music Stinks
You will often hear skilled musicians bitterly complaining about some song or style of music they despise. Usually the complaint is something like, How can people listen to this? It has no melody and there are two chords in the whole song! The answer is almost always that people like the rhythm. You wont hear too many popular songs or styles with terrible rhythm. People wont listen to it. Listeners tune into rhythm more than anything else. Most non-musicians dont catch or dont care about the occasional bad note or chord. But, if the rhythm goes awry at a performance, its the first thing the audience will notice.
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Rhythm In Music Length Of Notes
To begin your understanding of what is rhythm in music, you will need to know what are the names and symbols of the notes in the written music. These note and rest symbols all have a different meaning, and will help your rhythm music theory knowledge as a musician.
In the European musical tradition, there are several types of notes, rests and their symbols that when written, let the musician know how long to play a note or hold a rest for in the music. Depending on where you live, the symbols are the same, but might be called something very different! In the charts below you will see note and rest symbols with both their USA names and UK names. These charts cover the basic notes and rests needed to understand simple rhythms and will help you understand what rhythm is rhythm in music.
Strong Beats And Weak Beats In Rhythm
In this section, we will get into basic rhythms using notes and rests, measures, and barlines. This is the fun part!
Look at the example below and you will see four measures using the time signature of 4/4. Remember that in 4/4 time there are four beats in each measure and a quarter note gets one count. In each measure, there are notes that add up to four beats. Click on the link.
Try tapping out the rhythm while counting the beats in each measure. Simple! Right? In each measure, there are strong beats as well as weak beats. The strong beats are found on beats one and three. Weak beats are on two and four.
Look at the next example. We changed the time signature to 2/4. This indicates 2 beats per measure and a quarter note gets one beat. Click on the link below.
The strong beat is on one and followed by the weak beat on two.
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How Can I Learn Rhythm
The simple way to learn the basics of rhythm is through tapping and counting the beats. You can use your foot to tap a steady beat and sing different note durations against the beat.
For example, you can start with the basic four beats rhythm, for which you can tap four beats over and over with your foot and make the beat of 1 the hardest:1-2-3-4,1-2-3-4, 1-2-3-4.
You have to practice similar kinds of exercises which will help you to understand the sense of rhythm.
The Evolution Of Dance
The field of musical rhythm is increasingly expanding to encompass the scientific study of dance . Only in 2016, three papers have introduced conceptual frameworks for the evolutionary study of dance . We believe the field would benefit from connecting these theoretical frameworks with recent empirical findings on dance .
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Duple And Triple Meter
We have mentioned 4/4 time but if you want to use compound time and odd time in a track, you need to get familiar with how beats within any measure are felt in twos or threes. This should be a bit clearer now you know how strong and weak beats work.
A duple meter is broken into two beats per measure triple meter into three beats per measure and quadruple meter into four beats per measure. A strong-weak pattern indicates a duple meter is being played. As the bar is split into two duples, 4/4 time might be referred to as quadruple time.
3/4 bar is one triple group strong, weak, weak. A recent example of this is Perfect by Ed Sheeran.
Any rhythmic pattern or time signature can be divided into meters of two or three. The meter is just one way that beats are subdivided within a measure, simple and compound describe how a beat is broken down into smaller subdivisions.
The Second Tier Of The 8 Most Common Rhythms
These 8 rhythms in a bar of 4/4 can, like the notes themselves, be halved or doubled.
When we half each note in these rhythms, we get the next tier of rhythms, which include eighth notes:
- The whole notes become half notes.
- The half notes become quarter notes.
- The dotted half notes become dotted quarter notes.
- The quarter notes become eighth notes.
The second column is a halving of the first. The rhythms sound the same, but occupy 2 beats instead of 4. When we recognize this, we can more easily count the 8th-note rhythms.
So with eighths as our smallest note value, every two beats will form one of our 8 most common rhythms.
The rhythms will sound the same as their double-value counterparts, if perhaps at a different speed.
The rhythms in the second column will sound the same and their double-value counterparts in column one, if perhaps at a different speed.
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Importance Of Having Good Rhythm
So, why does a good rhythm matter? Having a good rhythm enables you to:
- Stay in time with your band
- You can play any rhythmic figure by ear
- You can sight-read good rhythms
- You wont rush or drag the beat
A musician who aims to take their career of music to the next level requires strong musicianship and keeping a good rhythm is an important part of that. Having these skills is the difference between an amateur and a professional musician. Studio musicians understand that having bad rhythm will affect your ability to make it as an artist.
Some of the greatest bands ever from the Beatles to Metallica, all have impeccable rhythm in common. Impeccable musicality and sense of rhythm is the key for succeeding as an instrumentalist. Without good rhythm, you will easily get lost in the music and be out of sync. The whole band may lose tempo and even the listener will pick up on rhythm problems.
You dont want to be worried about losing time so work on strong musicality through refining your rhythmic skills. Practice difficult rhythms and learn how to listen for good rhythm. Consider purchasing a metronome or metronome app to achieve your next level of musical precision.
Compound Time Groups Eighth Notes Into Groups Of Three
Examples of compound time are 6/8 and 9/8. In 6/8 compound duple time, notes are subdivided into two groups of three eighth notes.
The eighth notes could be counted one-and-a, two-and-a.
Although 6/8 time has six quaver beats in the bar, the beat is given by two dotted crotchets. The dotted crotchet beats are on quavers one and four. 6/8 time includes tunes recorded in 6/8 include Fallin by Alicia Keys and We are the Champions by Queen.
9/8 compound triple time notes are subdivided into three groups of three eighth notes.
The eighth notes are counted one-and-a, two-and-a, three-and-a.
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What Does Rhythm Look Like
Go deeper into the types of symbols that are used to describe rhythm.
There are two main elements in music, one is pitch and the other is rhythm. Let’s take a look at the various symbols that are used to describe rhythm, how the staff, measures and bar lines work, and finally, what time signatures are and how to put them together.
Here are the basic values and their corresponding shapes:
Each note value is equal to two notes of the next value underneath it as shown in the following diagram:
The Time Signature
A time signature consists of two numbers and gives us information about how the rhythm will be counted.
In the case of 4/4 time, there will be four beats in a measure and a quarter note will receive one beat. Since there are four beats per measure, this will mean that there will be four quarters in a measure, two half notes in a measure and one whole note in a measure. The next example illustrates this and shows the counting above each note value.
Let’s see if you understand this now. Do the following with the next diagram:
- Establish a steady beat or pulse and tap your foot to it.
- Start counting to four out loud to this beat.
- Once a steady beat is established and your foot is tapping, attempt to clap the attacks for the rhythm at the correct beats. Clap when the counting lines up with the numbers above the note.
Understanding the move through these rhythms is a big step in gaining a good grasp of rhythm. Try strumming a chord using these rhythms.
The Third Tier Of The 8 Most Common Rhythms
When our smallest note value is a sixteenth note, our 8 rhythms will all happen within the space of one beat.
There are only these 8 possible rhythms within each beat, with the sixteenth note as the smallest note value.
- The half notes become quarter notes.
- The quarter notes become eighth notes.
- The dotted quarter notes become dotted eighth notes.
- The eighth notes become sixteenth notes.
Here, the 3rd column is a halving of the 2nd column. All 3 columns sound the same. But column 3 occupies just one beat .
Again, each possible rhythm will sound exactly the same as its double-valued cousins. It just happens within a smaller number of beats on the page .
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Time Signature Symbols And Definitions With Uk Note Names
There are a few ways to describe a time signature. If the time signature in the music remains constant, and does not change, then it is music written in an isometric time signature. If the time signature changes, for example from 4/4 to ¾, or from common time to waltz time, then it would be multimetric. A great example of this in the Beatles classic We Can Work It Out. The majority of this song is performed in a 4/4 time signature, but during the chorus, starting at 38 seconds, it goes from common time to waltz time on the lyrics for fussing and fighting my friends, then it returns to the 4/4 time signature and then back again to ¾ on the lyrics so I will ask you once again. It is important to note that the tempo slows down a little during the chorus as well! Watch the clip to hear the multimetric time signature.
PLEASE NOTE time signatures are NOT fractions! They should not be written with a / in between the numbers, but, for convenience in this post they have been.
How Do We Measure Rhythm In Music
The beat is the musical measure of time. And it is measured in the same way as the heartbeat is measured: beats per minute .
Think of the beat as the heartbeat of the song.
It is easy to find the beat of a song, more than you could imagine.Just give it a try. Listen to a song and clap along to the pulse. You will intuitively find the beat of it.
In this video, that’s just what the audience is doing: clapping the beat.
Now, the speed of the pulse is what we call tempo. You can write the tempo of a song using a rhythmic note and giving it a value, e.g. =60, which means 60 BPM. Also, you can do it by using the Italian terms in the list below:
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Rhythm In Music Phrasing
A musical phrase can be either melodic or rhythmic. A phrase is like a small musical sentence. To begin to hear a phrase, try listening to a singer performing the melody. When they take a breath, or there is a slight pause, that is the end of the phrase. An instrumental phrase can often go longer than one that is sung, simply because the instrument, such as a violin, does not need to take a breath!
When describing a phrase first listen for how many bars in length it is, is it being performed in 2,3,4,5,6,7, 8, or any number of bars long? To do this you firstly need to work out the time signature. Once you know how many beats are in the bar, you can count the phrase length.
Another way to describe a phrase is by using words such as even, balanced, or symmetrical. A phrase that is even can be divided in half and each half is the same. Phrases that are uneven, unbalanced, or asymmetrical are different on either side. These types of phrases might start high, then end low, or they might be heard in the first bar of the phrase, and then there is a longer pause before the next phrase.
What Are Examples Of Rhythmic Patterns In Music
Here are some of the common rhythmic patterns that you would encounter in a piece of music.
- 3/4: This pattern signifies that there should be three beats in each measure. So the pulse of this music would be 1-2-3, 1-2-3, 1-2-3, and like that. So if you hear a music piece with the 3/4 time signature, youll be able to notice that rhythmic pattern. Waltz is an example of music that uses the 3/4 rhythmic pattern.
- 4/4: It signifies that there will be four beats in each measure. Its pulse counting will be like 1-2-3-4, 1-2-3-4, 1-2-3-4, and so on. You can notice this rhythmic pattern in a march.
- 6/8: As you might have already guessed, it signifies that each measure will have six beats. But here, you should note that the beats get divided into groups of three. So the pattern would look like this: 1-2-3 | 4-5-6, 1-2-3 | 4-5-6, 1-2-3 | 4-5-6, and so on.
Remember that these are just a few common types of rhythmic elements. There can be many more rhythmic patterns.
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