(Roughly) Daily

“I Got Rhythm”*…

… indeed, as Nina Kraus explains, we all do…

Why do we care about rhythm? It connects us to the world. It plays a role in listening, in language, in understanding speech in noisy places, in walking, and even in our feelings toward one another.

Rhythm is much more than a component of music. Nevertheless, music is probably what first comes to mind when we hear the word rhythm: drumming, jazz, rock and roll, marching bands, street performers with wooden spoons and five-gallon buckets, drum circles, time signatures, stomp-stomp-clap — we will, we will rock you — adventures on the dance floor, beatboxing, incantations, mantras, and prayers. Beyond music, we experience the rhythmic changes of the seasons. Some of us have menstrual cycles. We have circadian rhythms — daily cycles of mental and physical peaks and troughs. Frogs croak rhythmically to attract mates and change their rhythm to signal aggression. Tides, 17-year cicadas, lunar phases, perigees, and apogees are other naturally occurring rhythms. Human-made rhythms include the built world — street grids, traffic lights, crop fields, mowed designs in baseball diamond outfields, the backsplash behind the kitchen counter, spatial patterns in geometric visual art forms.

Maintaining rhythm is almost a biological imperative for some of us…

An exploration of the many ways in which temporal patterns plays an important role in how we perceive — and connect with — the world: “The Extraordinary Ways Rhythm Shapes Our Lives,” at @mitpress.

And for an astounding application of rhythm, the story of Niko Tosa: “The Gambler Who Beat Roulette,” (with no electronic or other help). Via @nextdraft.

* George and Ira Gershwin (The piece [performed by Gershwin here] has become a jazz standard– and gave the world a chord progression– the “rhythm changes“– that provide the foundation for many other popular jazz tunes, including Charlie Parker’s and Dizzy Gillespie’s bebop standard “Anthropology (Thrivin’ on a Riff).”)


As we contemplate cadence, we might recall that it was on this date in 1965 that the Beatles recorded “Help!” The title song of their 1965 film and its soundtrack album, it was released as a single in July of that year, and was number one for three weeks in the United States and the United Kingdom.

The group recorded “Help!” in 12 takes using four-track equipment. The first nine takes concentrated on the instrumental backing. The descending lead guitar riff that precedes each verse proved to be difficult, so by take 4 it was decided to postpone it for an overdub. To guide that later overdub by George, John thumped the beat on his acoustic guitar body, which can be heard in the final stereo mix.

Written by (Roughly) Daily

April 13, 2023 at 1:00 am

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