Photo credits: Erick Richmond and Jim Callaghan
Percussive instruments, objects that produce sound upon being struck, are the most primitive and hence oldest of our music-making tools.
And yet, or perhaps as a consequence, their place in the history of Western classical music has been far from central or influential.
As a corollary, rhythm has been the least creatively explored element in the development of Western music.
We have Pythagoras and his fascination for mathematical invariance to blame for this neglect! His sixth century B.C. invention of the octave scale based on the definition of intervals by integer ratios is the keystone of both acoustical science and Western classical music.
While the magnitude, potency and enduring value of these achievements are obvious- this webzine squats on the shoulders of the giants that crafted them – it may be argued that their heavy reliance on tone and its richness has eclipsed the vibrant possibilities of rhythm and meter.
Rhythm is tactile and belongs to the realm of time. Pitch is perfect and tonal relationships are essentially immutable, static. But time flows, or stands still.
Inextricably immersed in time, we experience it linearly or otherwise. Time, impermanent yet infinite in expanse and divisibility, is ultimately untameable, beyond rationalization. Anyone who has had to sight read a piece of contemporary music has surely noticed how western musical notation quite efficiently codifies melody and harmony, or the lack of such, but does a relatively poor job of depicting complex rhythms and uneven time structures.
- Victoria Cajipe / FanFaire 2000