Saturday, November 17, 2012

Our Inherent Sense of Rhythm

Recently, I have been reviving my interest in the role of the "wet brain" in making music. This led me to a fascinating paper entitled "Emergence of Rhythm during Motor Learning." The basic idea is that, when we learn sequences of actions, we associate a rhythm with how we perform those actions. At the end of the paper, the authors then posed the following as an outstanding question:
Why do freely generated rhythms always have interval ratios of 1:2 or 1:3?
This of course presume that those ratios always arise. While we know that they can be traced by to the earliest origins of Western music, the authors of this paper were Japanese. Is it really the case that, on a global scale, all metric patterns are organized around those two ratios?

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