Polyrhythms Are Our Friends

One of the things I struggle with most in producing is making interesting drum lines. I think this is why I tend to go for writing harmonies and melodies in my tracks. I understand chord structure, progressions, and voice leading better than rhythmic patterns.

The kinds of tracks I want to write need a groove, though, if they are to be any good. My percussion production techniques are improving, but I don’t feel that the actual percussion arrangements are much good at all.

I’ve been listening with a critical ear to stuff that I really dig the feel of the percussion, and I’ve noticed that while the main groove might be 4/4, under the surface there are percussive “events” that when you tease them out, they’re happening in 13/8, or 7/8 (for example), and they come around to create counter-patterns around the core 4/4 structure.

These patterns merge and diverge from the main groove and help create sonic interest. These are called polyrhythms. It’s nothing new. There has been music made in this way for millennia, especially in traditional Asian and African music. I think what surprised me was really hearing it in electronic dance music that has such a strong relationship with 4/4.

I bring this up because the track I will be publishing this Saturday will be featuring some conscious polyrhythmic experiments. I’ve already started, and I like where some of my early sketches are going. Stay tuned!

2 thoughts on “Polyrhythms Are Our Friends

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