Revisiting The Elements of Rhythm, Vols. I & II

On November 24th, 2012, I launched this blog about my books, The Elements of Rhythm, Vols. I & II (Rollinson Publishing Co.). It’d taken me thirty years to create the books in a format that I was truly satisfied with, and for the next three years, I had the time and energy to promote them to a fair degree.

But in all honesty, working full time in Los Angeles was simply too much, and I ran out of steam for getting the word out about what arguably was and remains one of the most systematic methods for studying rhythm patterns and their origins. I live in my hometown now (Austin, Texas), where the pace is a little more conducive to peace and sanity…

It’s my hope that if you’ve found your way to this blog, you’ll visit the dedicated website (www.TheElementsofRhythm.com) as well as read the other eleven posts I put up here a few years ago.  There are a finite number of building block rhythm patterns that all of the larger, more complex patterns originate from. My books contain the complete list and also offer an organizing system for categorizing them.

If you’re a serious student of rhythm, you’ve come to the right place. I appreciate you visiting the blog site, and I’ll be updating it much more regularly with comments, exercises and applications of the books’ contents. With everything that’s going on in the world today (Covid-19), we have a lot of time at home to study everything we never had time to explore. I hope this blog, the website and the books help you in your journey to better understand the subtleties and complexities of rhythm pattern evolution, and I hope you’ll check back often to see where we’re going with new ideas about this fascinating and dynamic subject.

With much appreciation, David R. Aldridge

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The Elements of Rhythm, Vol. II, Relative Notation and Counting Syllables

The 3rd video in our series of Introduction to The Elements of Rhythm Vol. II, Relative Notation and Counting Syllables.

Here, we present the complete list of fundamental building block rhythm patterns from Volume I and do so in a way that lets us read identical-sounding rhythm patterns in varying metric contexts, such as 4/2, 4/4, 4/8, 4/16, and 4/32, simultaneously.

We also introduce the concept of relative notation, where an absolute sound shape is written using varying notation, depending upon the beat note context. Various counting exercises are presented to help de-condition our usual expectation of counting certain types of notation using predictable syllables (e.g., sixteenth rests and notes as 1 e + uh in 4/4, as opposed to 1 + 2 + in 4/8, for example).

A complete list of counting syllables for Event Point Levels 1-8 are introduced as well, and serve as a helpful tool for beginner readers, allowing them to clap, sing and sound out all of the fundamental building block rhythm patterns.

For viewers unfamiliar with the books, this video will give you a good overview and hopefully inspire you to want to learn more about The Elements of Rhythm, Vols. I & II.

http://www.TheElementsofRhythm.com

2nd Video about The Elements of Rhythm, Vol. I, Introduction to Binary Rhythm Pattern Theory

I created a second video to present excerpts from The Elements of Rhythm. Vol. I, that help teach the basics of binary rhythm pattern theory. It’s a little fuzzy here and there, and I’m working to get my grasp of technology dialed in, but the message is very clear: there are a finite number of building block rhythm patterns that all the larger combinations come from.

The books (both volumes) explore this notion, but it’s Volume I that has the true theoretical meat to it.

If you watch this YouTube video and give me six minutes, it’ll radically change your notions about where rhythm patterns originate, at least mathematically. And we’ve really never had any kind of system quite like this before to make the complexities so understandable. That was my primary goal, by the way: to make the rhythmic universe comprehendible.

I hope you enjoy it and get see where things can go, because if you do, your rhythmic understanding will expand incredibly…

Reprint: Introducing the Elements of Rhythm, Vols. I & II

This blog was originally published on David Aldridge’s Drumming Blog, 11-14-2012…

How many rhythm patterns do you suppose there are?

Thousands, hundreds of thousands?

The list is infinite, but the number of patterns that make up the fundamental building blocks is finite.

I’ve spent the better part of three decades, on and off, working on a series of books that present the basic patterns and their logical evolution. I have greatly appreciated your readership of my blog, and I would now like to announce the official release of those books… The Elements of Rhythm Vols. I & II (Rollinson Publishing Co).

Many years ago, I took some drum lessons with Terry Bozzio when I was living in Los Angeles. He showed me a collection of simple 2/4 patterns and told me that they made up the basics of just about everything else I would ever see.

From there, I developed a list of 4/4 patterns as a sort of jazz drummer’s vocabulary list… and I expanded it significantly.

In the mid 1980’s, I met American music composer Lou Harrison and shared my list of patterns with him. He had written about a simple binary formula, 2n, that let you create basic silence and sound combinations. We had been working on the same thing in many ways, and he gave me a lot of suggestions as to where the book could go from there.

The level of detail became pretty intense, something much bigger than I had expected. It took many, many revisions to sort out all the information, but what I eventually came up was that the book and patterns formed the basis for something drummers (and all musicians, really) have never had: a rhythm pattern theory resource.

In Vol. II, I take the fundamental patterns and present them in multiple music lines. This lets you read a pattern in 4/2, 4/4, 4/8, 4/16 and 4/32, all stacked on top of each other. This shows that an identical-sounding rhythm pattern can be written many ways and still retain what I call its absolute sound shape. Vol. II also explores the many ways you can count a rhythm pattern, which helps de-condition you from always expecting certain note shapes to be counted certain ways.

Keyboard players can look at notes and see everything they will be working with. So can guitar players. But what do drummers have to look at? Where are the source of rhythm pattern origins? Where are our collection of basic shapes?

That’s what my books are really about. They give everyone a collection of the basic shapes that all the larger, more complex combinations come from.

The value of this list is that you can prepare your mind, your eyes, your ears, and your whole body with the fundamental movement possibilities. It’s not about sight-reading, however. It’s about preparing and programming yourself, completely, with nothing left out.

Several other authors have explored similar approaches using the basic patterns, to whom I give credit in Vol. I, but my approach goes somewhat further in terms of the different ways you can write a pattern. I use half, quarter, eighth, sixteenth and thirty-second rest/note values and create a very large collection of patterns that can be studied and mastered.

I’m going to be teaching seminars in the near future, demonstrating how drummers can use the patterns to explore odd meters, polyrhythms, and advanced improvisation methods. I hope you can take a few minutes and check out the website to see more about what I’ve created, and I truly hope that music teachers will find the materials useful for helping students gain a much broader perspective of how rhythm patterns logically evolve into an amazing structure. I also include teaching guidelines in the Appendices to help provide structure for this new approach to rhythm pattern study.

My dream is to travel the world eventually and share more insights, with both the music community and the music research community. There is so much to explore and so much to integrate… and we as drummers are truly the keepers of the temporal flame. If you’ll visit http://www.theElementsofRhythm.com, I hope you’ll see where the ignition for my passion comes from.