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Good idea definitely worth watching

posted on #1
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posted on #2
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Thanks for that Nilton - a good way to look at things!
posted on #3
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A wonderful way to think differently about rhythm. Thanks for posting.
posted on #4
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The quickest way to confuse a drummer is show them sheet music . Great way to look at rhythm .
posted on #5
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This is really cool. Would be nice to see these circles rotating on a given song in the media player...
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posted on #6
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Maybe it would be worth turning this idea (and others, i have loads of them) into an app. The apps could be sold/marketed under the wikiloops brand and generate some income. I would happily donate some work for this
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posted on #7
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cool video which definetly reveals a little about how you look at things as a drummer :)
That reminded me of a quite funny wood-work project I built in my teens - it's a sort of analog sampler which works based on the idea of "programming" a beat on a circle, and look, I found a video of it.
just ignore the overlay text (that actually was an idea to promote wikiloops, before it was even named wikiloops), I didn't find the video without it, and have a look at this (you can see the rotating roll holding the "dots" best in the very last view) :

The "sampler" had 16 holes per turn available (= 4 bars 4/4), 8 distinct sounds and two tracks to switch between two different beats (that never worked really smooth while turning, one had to stop). To trigger a sound, one needed to put small wooden plugs into the pre-drilled holes in the rotating unit. As you can tell, it would have needed some kind of gears and a spinning wheel to smoothen out the turning, but I had no idea how to make that work with wood back then.

After seeing the "circles", I'm thinking to write or video a little something to explain yet another approach to understanding and memorizing rhythm, which is more related to attaching certain "dots on the circle" to certain body movements or a general feeling of "is it left, or is it right".
Wish me luck that I'll eventually find time to do that, it is something I have dealt with quite a lot, and which might be interesting for some.
Edited by Baer on November 17 2017 12:44
posted on #8
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Cool stuff, both videos very interesting!!
posted on #9
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This is really funny! I have just been wondering how to build a rotating drum machine out of wood and 16 pins - and someone did it. Of course, these are very old concepts to record music and prevent the player of being shot in the saloon. :)
To get a smooth rotating you need a big rotating mass like the wheels for a spinning cycle. Then you could go for a ride, let's say with 100 turns in your feet and use your bike as a programmable drum. Bumm-bumm-ta-bumm...
Or you build the world biggest rotating drum in your garden! Let us start with an wooden wheel like the cowboys used.
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posted on #10
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Here is a new solution for an analog rotating drum kit: Use a big wooden wheel with holes arranged in rows. Each hole can be shut with a standard cork. This wheel rotates in front of light beans. When a hole is left open, the light can pass. Now some people need to invent a device to catch this light signal and transform it into a dedicated midi note number. Then you can create a nice sounding drumpattern with no mechanical problem but how to keep the wheel rotating. Don't know how to realize a fill. Rome wasn't built in one day...
Edited by Neronick on November 17 2017 22:06
Vor jedes Ende hat Gott die Übertreibung gesetzt!
posted on #11
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A very interesting concept and, in particular, of interest to what, for the purposes of argument, I will call 'western music'. We're used to working in strict counts of the beat. 1, 2, 3, 4. Very mechanical and, if you grow up with it culturally, very hard to see past.

Once you look outside commercial and popular music, the concepts become more alien and the rhythm wheel demonstrated above is a great way to demystify the rhythms of other cultures which are not based on a strict, unchanging pulse.

A great example, to me, is afro-cuban or latin american music which are based on what is known as the clave. This forms the basis of a rhythm which is either 2:3 or 3:2. I'll *try* and visualise it below! Each dash (-) is a sixteenth note in traditional 4/4, so there's four to each beat. Each plus (+) is the 'beat' or 'count'. Each example consists of the same number of 'beats' (16).

Using 4/4: +---+---+---+---
2:3 Clave: --+-+---+--+--+-
3:2 Clave: +--+--+---+--+--

As far as natives of that form of music is concerned, that is the pulse or rhythm. Not counting 1, 2, 3, 4, even though you can. Natives of afro-cuban music neither count nor feel the rhythm as '1, 2, 3 ,4'!

I'll give up trying to visualise it. I hope you get what I'm driving at. The closest analogy I can give is Dave Brubeck's 'Take Five'. See how a complex time signature (5/4) becomes easy with such a dominant and obvious pattern to it. You don't count '5', you just feel the rhythm.

The video demonstrates what I'm trying to say so well when it comes to visualising patterns and rhythms, especially those of us who have been brought up on popular music - we're just not used to the 'beat' not being dead straight! But this 'clock' concept I can see being very helpful to teaching an understanding of world rhythms.

I'll stop talking now. I think I'm starting to make no sense at all.
Edited by mpointon on November 20 2017 15:44
posted on #12
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To the opposite, you are on a very good track, martin, maybe I can bring in one distinction which can complement your thoughts... here I go:

If the objective is to understand and envisualize rhytmic patterns which one is not culturally familiar with,
then I believe going from something which one knows towards something new is a valid approach.

If you can get a grip on a clave by forcing it into a 16th scheme, than that is one valid approach.
Your clave will be slightly off from a culturally inhertited players clave, but still close enough so you can work on from there.

To expect the learner to be able to grab the subtle not-so-rasterized flow by looking at rotating cycles seems a little dubious to me - it may work if you spend a lot of time trying to groove along, but in terms of effectiveness... I'm not sure.

What happens if you try to break down an organic rythmn into western notation is quite similar to what happens when you play classical pieces for strings on a tempered piano - the music suffers a bit from the raster that is applied, but it also becomes playable.

I'd rather tend to try to teach people to get intuitive at rastering beats onto 16th notes, that can be a great help to start moving.
I do notice the differences between rasterized and felt rhythms when playing drums, and by now I do love to go for the felt approach, but the rasterized concept gives me a great fallback knowledge on top of which I can do experiments.
In the end, you can apply "laid back" or "up front" aspects to each hit note to move it away from the 16th raster, and if you are lucky, you'll end up close to where a "native" would feel the groove.

Now, both of us play drums, martin, but I do watch a lot of guitar and bass players approaches to rhythm, too. Shame on guitar teachers who never really talk about groove and rather teach more fancy chords and scales, if you ask me.

What I consider very helpfull to get a groove straight on a guitar is a technique that applies a solid timing-raster to your playing, and thats why I had to step in here and drop a word PRO a rasterized approach :)

My advice to the beginning guitar groover:
Given, you listen to some drum groove and would like to lock in to that.
Given you can spot the "1", meaning the time when a repetition of the groove begins, hit your knee with your right hand any time that moment comes around.
In a normal tempo scenario, the wait time from 1-to-1 will feel quite long, and you will feel the urge to tap faster than just on the one.
Also, you'll most likely hear a loud snare-drum which you'd also feel deserves a tap on the knee, which sits in opposition to the "1", on position "3" (6 o'clock on the rotating circles).
If you tap that, too, then you are basicly doing what westerners do when they clap along to music - clap on one and three. That will feel natural to you.
If it is a very slow groove, even that may feel very slowish, and you will be able to double up your clapping speed, now tapping one - two - three - four.
If you grew up in the west, you can do that, guaranteed.

Allright, go ahead and strum on your guitar instead of tapping your knee now. Let's say you do the full 1-2-3-4.
How do you do that? All downstrokes? All upstrokes? A wild mix?
Try to make the natural four all as downstrokes please.

Next: Return to playing strokes on the 1 and 3 only, but keep your wrist moving as if you were still strumming all four.
the up and down movement of your right hand will from now on become your raster.
Next time you meet some rythm that does not feel all natural to you, or you would like to get away from the entirely boring 1-2-3-4 positions, why not dare to play a strum in between:
Challenge yourself to play one chord one the "1", and the second between the 2 and 3 (I'll call that 2+ position).
If you try that without your swinging-arm-raster, that will be hard to hit.
If you keep the arm swinging, the 2+ position will be the upstroke coming after the second downstroke, all you need to focus on is bringing the pleck to the strings as that happens.
I apply the same logic to playing drums, the division happens between my left and right hand instead of up and down movements of one hand.
In the end, all you need to memorize are the moments when you switch from one mode/side/move to the other. If the natural raster is flowing by itself, you can focus on bringing in the emphasiz on the desired notes.
It's a "Play all of em, but only those loud which you want to be heard" kind of approach.
This idea applied, tackling a 7/8 meter groove comes down to realizing that all notes which are on downstrokes in the first bar will come around on upstroke positions in the second bar, simply because 7 is not an even number, and by memorizing the body movement instead of some theory + counting, I believe you can get a feel for such odd beats much better than by trying to understand what is going on with logic.
Playing ska is utterly easy once you realize you simply need to play upstrokes all the time to get that jumpy offbeat going, while your arm does the good old 4-down move you've been familiar with all these years.

darn, another long one ;)
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posted on #13
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As always, Dick, spoken with a true sense of logic and clarity. I 100% agree with your 'feel' approach. I broke my example down into sixteenths to [perhaps unsuccessfully] try and demonstrate how a beat or rhythm isn't always a rigid 1, 2, 3, 4 in other music cultures. I wholeheartedly agree with your suggestions and approach.

This is where the 'technique vs feel' debate is always so very, very difficult. Ultimately (and in my opinion) the ability to read music is purely because you need to re-create someone else's composition or provide a record of a piece you've created. It's still your job to give that piece your personality and feel, something woefully overlooked by educators in my opinion.

It's the difference between learning something mechanically and using/understanding that mechanical knowledge to create something more 'human'. And as you point out, many non-drumming players are not taught/helped to access what I will call 'humanity'. The ability to use technique to access your musicality. In musical parlance, it's what we call 'groove'; that musical and personal 'je ne sais quoi' that an individual player brings to the music. The thing you cannot teach, but you can point players in the right direction - to help them get into the mindset of a rhythm. Give them a reason for these exercises.

In the drumming world, rudiments are a classic example of technique vs. musicality. I was taught all the core rudiments from the outset but it was many years later before I was taught *why* you learn them. At the start they were just tedious 'scales' I had to learn. No one showed me for years how to deploy these vital building blocks to make my playing more fluent and competent.

But rudiments and techniques such as Moeller (which many incorrectly assume to be some magic shortcut to great playing - it really, really isn't and, like all skills, takes a long time to achieve second-nature fluency) are vital tools to enable you to access your musical desires. It is this aspect that, as you point out, is so often overlooked by educators. Techniques, rudiments, etc., are your palette. The bigger your palette, the more colours you can paint with.

Another analogy is driving a car. You learn to steer. You learn to co-ordinate pedals. You learn to use the indicators. It's no different. There comes a point where all these complex movements become second-nature. That's when you can focus on the quality of your driving and paying attention to the world around you. That is the point where your own personality becomes part of your approach.

Once you no longer have to think about *what* you're playing, you're able to focus on *how* you play it.

Hmm, I might've drifted a bit here.
posted on #14
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mpointon wrote:
... I'll give up trying to visualise it. I hope you get what I'm driving at. The closest analogy I can give is Dave Brubeck's 'Take Five'. See how a complex time signature (5/4) becomes easy with such a dominant and obvious pattern to it. You don't count '5', you just feel the rhythm...

Hey Martin, maybe a nice one to add to your Take 5 examples how an odd signature can become a natural feel.
Skip to 16:12 for Mike Sterns's interpretation of Oye Como Va in a 7 beats structure. ;)

posted on #15
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What i like about this way of visualizing rhythms is that it is a continuous system that emphasizes the cyclic nature of rhythms as opposed to the discrete and linear layout of standard notation.

I especially like the part where you can create new rhythms by rotating one of the circles. Something that would be a lot less clear in standard notation. This also shows the building blocks of all rhythms and demystifies poly-rhythms, although it would be nearly impossible to express polymeters in this system.

I still sense that there is a underlying conflict between notated and orally (aurally?) tradated (is this a word?) music. I think this conflict is caused by what i mentioned before, cyclic and continuous versus linear and discrete. And recognizing the cyclic continuous patterns in a piece of sheet music takes some extensive training. Training that sadly is not part of common musical education. I was very bothered for decades by the inadequacy of musical notation to express rhythms in a clear, easy to grasp and concise way until i stumbled across some information in a book that helped me to crack the code.

Having worked as a teacher for years i am very aware of the advantages of building mental models as opposed to pure memorization when it comes to learning and especially understanding. If this visualization can help anybody to better model the concept of what a rhythm is and how it works, that would indeed be a good thing. That said the visualization does not solve all problems.

And Dick, i agree totally with you, guitarist should focus more on their dominant (right for right-handers, after all the word "dominant" should tell you something) hand where the rhythm and groove is produced, than on their left where scales and chords emerge. But nobody seems to listen...
Edited by nilton on November 21 2017 11:39
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posted on #16
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Coming back to the rotating wheels for a drum machine. Talking about quantization und humanizing.
No human can play like a robot but can a robot play like a human? Give him the "Ringo Starr-algorithm"! This have to use fuzzy logic.
Look at my machine: a laser light passes through a hole and triggers a drumsound. There is a slight delay for each outer wheel. Now use a wheel with no holes and rotate this analog with imperfection. This wheel is the driver of the system. Imperfectation is a 1/n of a 1/64 note.
Use some rubbers to connect each wheel to one or two other...no wheel will rotate perfectly and you'll get a really fuzzy algorithm. Now use your little finger to slow down a wheel slightly at some times. You won't change the tempo.
This algorithm is much better than everything that is implemented now. If someone is going to use it, please be a man with respect and honour. Thanks!
Any questions? I am going to construct a drawing.
Edited by Neronick on November 21 2017 12:05
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posted on #17
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Rhythmic variation can be created in two ways. One is varying the actual position of a sound relative to its nominal position on a perfect timeline. There is musical terminology for this, Rubato, Swing feel etc.
The other way is varying the timeline itself by accelerandos, ritardando, fermats etc. The effect on the listener is quite different for these two methods.

The problem is which of these methods to use in a electronic/mechanical context. When you record music with a sequencer the granularity is usually 1/96 (1/64 triplets) or even 1/192 of a beat, indicated by a click track. This translates to a few ms which is better than most musicians are able to play. It is generally considered that anything less than 10ms is inaudible (although it could have effects not fully investigated yet).

If you look at such a recording in standard notation it looks horrible and totally incomprehensive. One way to make it more readable is to do what normally is called a quantization that increases the granularity of the timeline. Again the quantization algorithms i have tested had much difficulty identifying the variations and distinguishing them from normal human error (meaning inadvertent inadequacy from the performer). This kind of problem is inherent in ALL digitizing systems, digitizing drawings or sheet music, ocr and so on. Although this is improving by the evolution of AI.

The problem can be formulated in this way: which part of the data is the idea and which part of the data is the rendering? Or put simpler, what is signal and what is noise? To make things worse, humans have a tendency to misinterpret noise for signal. This for evolutionary reasons, it is far better to run from something that is actually NOT a tiger (misinterpreting noise for signal) than NOT to run from something that actually is a tiger (misinterpreting signal for noise).

When looking at visualizations of rhythms we must remember that they are representations of an IDEA of an rhythm and thereby free from any noise (intentional nor random). And this regardless of which way of visualization we choose, linear or cyclical. When rendering this idea it depends on both the performer and the listener how the original idea is perceived. An excellent performer can introduce variations that can enhance the experience whilst a poor performer is likely to introduce random noise. And an inexperienced listener can easily misinterpret the information if the variations are too large. I listen to live cuban music whenever i have the opportunity and i have several times experienced a feeling of uneasiness for the first half hour or so before my brain managed to adopt.
Edited by nilton on November 21 2017 16:32
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posted on #18
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stumbled across this here this morning, thought some might enjoy that (a circle based in-browser drum machine for experiments):
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posted on #19
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I don’t know …for me it’s much to do about nothing. It’s interesting, not for what the author tries to say but for, how someone’s can make a link between rhythm and a circle with dots. What’s the purpose of the circle? try to proof that there are different basic rhythms in any kind of music ?,while music becomes music when you make variations of the basic rhythm .The examples are one or 2 bars long while in music shifting of accents is inherent specially in world music. What about different time signatures, Polyrhythm, half beats (ex. 4 ½ /4) How you’re gonna visualize the rhythm of ANY song in cyrcles.This can read, like to see this in circles with dots.

posted on #20
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...wish I was kleva like wot you guys are...... I got a clock in my head... that's about all though. :D
fascinating topic though.
he who works with his hands, is a labourer
he who works with his hands and his head, is a craftsman
he who works with his hands, his head, and his heart, is an artist.....(I try not to work)
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