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

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

Video Introducing The Elements of Rhythm, Volumes I & II

Well it took awhile, but I’m really excited to post this link tonight to a YouTube video I made about my books, The Elements of Rhythm, Volumes I & II.

Let me tell you, writing books is vastly easier than making videos about them!

I’ll keep this one short and sweet, so here’s the link:

I hope you enjoy it, and thanks for watching!

Mastering the 256 Basic 4/4 Jazz/Latin Rhythm Patterns

One of the true values of The Elements of Rhythm, Vols. I & II,  is the exploration and presentation of the fundamental building block rhythm patterns found in virtually any and all styles of music.

If you have the books, you understand the process for systematically combining the patterns which results in no possibility being left out. You also know that there’s a lot of ink within the pages, and that it’s best to specifically target clearly defined areas of interest to study and improve upon.

When I first began work on Volume I, it was a simple idea: take the sixteen 2/4 patterns of eighth and quarter notes/rests that Terry Bozzio had shown me during a lesson and combine them with themselves to make bigger list of vocabulary patterns.

Pages 232-239 contain those 256 fundamental eighth and quarter rest/note combinations that comprise the basic 4/4 jazz and Latin rhythm patterns you’re likely to encounter. As with all the other patterns in the book, it’s not about sight reading; it’s about mastery of the absolute sound shape and the space between the notes.

Here an example from page 232, The Elements of Rhythm, Vol. I:

elementsv1.indd

If you go through the 256 patterns and sing them out loud, you will instantly recognize some of the more classic rhythms. For drummers, play time on the ride cymbal and play all the patterns with your left hand on the snare drum. It’ll take some doing, so give yourself a break in between completing the hand version. Then go back and play them between your hands and feet.

It’s also easy imagine the patterns in the context of Latin music, usually in two bar phrases. Many of the patterns can be played by drummers on the bell of the cymbal or on a cowbell, also in two bar phrases.

How ever you may choose to practice the patterns, remember that mastery, not sight reading, is the objective. Really take the time to get to know these patterns. Don’t let the pace of our world rush you at nine-hundred miles an hour. Breathe this stuff in deeply. It’s the core of your creative palette, and integration into your musical mind is the most important objective.

Do that, and the magic will unfold when you play.

Finale Music Interview, The Elements of Rhythm, Vols. I & II, April 2013

I wanted to share an interview with Finale Music for this site that readers might find of interest. It was a massive undertaking to complete both volumes of The Elements of Rhythm, and I made my way to the Finale booth at the 2013 NAMM show to share my books and express my deep gratitude for their product and its publishing power.

Here’s the link to the Finale interview:

http://www.finalemusic.com/blog/creating-anything-you-can-imagine-with-finale/

I posted a similar link on my related site, David Aldridge’s Drumming Blog (https://davidaldridge.wordpress.com/2013/04/18/finale-music-and-the-elements-of-rhythm-vols-i-ii-cyber-ink-on-steroids/)

When I saw them at this past NAMM (2015), I was introduced to SmartMusic and its capability for creating lessons that used interactive materials. I can create lessons, send them to students who have a SmartMusic subscription, and they can play along in real time. If they play incorrect notes, the examples are marked for review.

I am really looking forward to exploring this capability for teaching The Elements of Rhythm in both volumes. I’ll post more in the future to show where this has gone, but for now, I hope you enjoy the interview with a great company that I cannot say enough positive things about. I do not receive any discounts of free materials from them, by the way. I just like what they make, because it helps me make more of what I like.

finale-logo

– David R. Aldridge

Binary Rhythm Indexing System from The Elements of Rhythm, Vol. I

One of the key and unique components to The Elements of Rhythm series and its introduction of binary rhythm pattern theory is the way in which we classify and catalog the fundamental building block rhythm patterns. I recall showing the book draft to Peter Erskine several years ago, and one of the most important questions he could have asked me was, “What are you going to do with all of those 0/1 combination tables?” I told him I didn’t quite know yet but that I was sure there was an application that either myself or someone else would come up with.

Shortly after that conversation, I discovered some work by mathematician/musician Vi Hart, where she gave a presentation regarding a simple way to identify basic rhythm patterns using 0s and 1s. It seemed we were on a similar path, so I contacted her and asked how far she’d worked out her system. Vi replied that she had only down a little work, so I expanded on her idea and came up with the Binary Rhythm Pattern Indexing System.

The idea is that we can classify and catalog each of the fundamental building block rhythm patterns by their event point level grouping and the sequence in which they logically and naturally occur.

The Binary Rhythm Pattern Indexing System is important for several reasons. First and foremost, it doesn’t exist anywhere in music theory or rhythm research, at least not as far as I was able to find at the time I published The Elements of Rhythm in 2012. Secondly, it can be used by anyone who is interested in systematically researching rhythm patterns and wanting to somehow identify their fundamental essence.

It’s a system that’s in its infancy, waiting to be explored as a tool and modified as needed. For now, it can give you a basic idea of how to catalog and classify the basic patterns for up to eight event point levels (beat note groupings or beat note divisions). I hope it can prove to be of use in your work, and please feel free to submit comments on its use, application and improvement. My special thanks to Vi Hart for the inspiration to find meaning in the numbers. She’s amazing in that way, and I invite you to explore her own works further, at http://www.vihart.com

David R. Aldridgeelementsv1-binary index_Page_1elementsv1-binary index_Page_2

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(excerpts reprinted with permission from The Elements of Rhythm, Vol. I, Rollinson Publishing Co., 2012)

Reprint: Mastering Quintuplets (5-note groupings) as Polyrhythms

[This post was originally printed in David Aldridge’s Drumming Blog (davidaldridge.wordpress.com) , 11-18-2012]

Getting quintuplets under your belt is not that hard to do if you start simple and build from there. This following an excerpt from The Elements of Rhythm Vol. I, my rhythm pattern theory text.

Quintuplets are simply 5-note groupings that are evenly spaced. They can be written in very complex forms, but to begin our study, we’ll first look at them as quarter notes.

There are exactly 32 quintuplet rest/note possibilities. If you master them in an easy-to-read meter like 4/4, they sound EXACTLY the same in 4/8, 4/16 and 4/32. Once you get the sound down, you can work on exploring them in different meters, as the following pages discuss and present.

If you are just getting started with polyrhythms, a good teacher can walk you through a more detailed exploration of our sample page excerpts. Intermediate to advanced players should be able to understand and integrate the principles with little difficulty.

For all levels of players, quintuplets open very interesting doors to the world of complex sound shapes, and the work you put into learning them will greatly expand your rhythmic vocabulary.

Enjoy, and as always, thanks for checking out my blog. There’s much more to come…

excerpts from The Elements of Rhythm Volume I (Rollinson Publishing Co.)  All rights reserved.

www.theElementsofRhythm.com

 

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.

Welcome to The Elements of Rhythm

Thanks for dropping by. We wanted to create a blog devoted to discussing applications of The Elements of Rhythm Vols. I & II in the music and music research fields. We hope you will find the articles informative and inspirational in your exploration of rhythm.