Music 320 Fall 2017: Topics in World Music:


Global Rhythm and Human Consciousness

Dr. Andrew Schloss
Office: MacLaurin A177 Local: 721-7931
Office hours: Tues 4:30-5:30 pm or by appointment (email to confirm)
email: aschloss at uvic dot ca

Classes: MacLaurin Building A168 / Tues, Fri 2:30 pm

Text: The Geometry of Musical Rhythm, by Godfried Toussaint
(note: also available in electronic version)


cultural autobiography and music examples 10%
video journal 10%
paper 20%
quizzes (2) 10% for each = 20%
mid-term exam 20% (listening examples, short answers, short essays)
final project 20% (class presentation)

Policy on Academic Integrity
Undergraduate Grading Scale


Global Rhythm and Human Consciousness: The nature of human perception and production of rhythm.

We will investigate rhythm from global, cultural, cognitive and mathematical perspectives. This interdisciplinary exploration includes aspects of ethnomusicology, systematic musicology, computational ethnomusicology, cultural anthropology, and auditory neursoscience. We will discuss the origins of music, the nature of rhythm, perception of time, and the use of music and dance to enhance trance, altered states and ritual. Geographic areas of study:  Africa, Latin America, India, Eastern Europe. How unique is the human capacity for rhythm and entrainment to a pulse—why can't dogs dance?  What would our popular music be like today without the influence of Africa? Some hands-on opportunities to learn both African and Latin polyrhythms and to practice rhythmic improvisation.

On Reserve or in the library:

Hearing in Time, Justin London
Ethnomusicology, Jaap Kunst
The Technique of my Musical Language, Olivier Messiaen
The Music of Africa, J. Kwabena Nketia 1974
Musique et Trance (Music and Trance, Rouget)
African Rhythm and African Sensibility, Chernoff
Flash of the Spirit, RF Thompson
How Musical is Man? J Blacking
Technicians of the Sacred, Rothenberg
World History of the Dance, K. Sachs
Divine Horsemen, M. Deren
Planet Drum, M. Hart
Drumming at the Edge of Magic, M Hart
Auditory neuroscience : making sense of sound / Jan Schnupp, Israel Nelken, and Andrew King (plus the associated website)
African Art in Motion, RF Thomson
African Civilizations in the New World, Bastide
Precolonial Black Africa, Diop
Black Music of Two Worlds, John Storm Roberts 1998
Popular Music of the World,
Peter Manuel
Music in Bulgaria (Rice) ML252R53


Investigating the human-specificity of synchronization to music, Patel, et alia, 2008 (What nonhuman animals, if any, can follow a "beat"?)
Perception and Production of Syncopated Rhythms, Fitch and Rosenfeld (A research paper on the perception of syncopation)
Percussion and Transition, Needham: the connection between trance/altered states and percussion
Perspectives on the Standard African 12-8 bell pattern, Jerry Leake
Timing is of the essence: Perceptual and computational techniques for representing, learning, and reproducing expressive timing in percussive rhythm (Master's thesis, MIT), Bilmes, J.A. (1993)
The Faculty of Language: What Is It, Who Has It, and How Did It Evolve? Marc D. Hauser, Noam Chomsky, W. Tecumseh Fitch
The biology and evolution of music: A comparative perspective , Fitch 2006
When does consciousness arise?
The Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness
What do we know about African rhythm? Koetting
An Aesthetic of the Cool: West Africa, R. F. Thompson
A Physiological Explanation of Unusual Behavior in Ceremonies Involving Drums, Andrew Neher
The rhythmic medium in African music New Literary History, J. Chernoff, J.M. (1991). 22(4), 1093–1102.
How to Talk About Musical Metre Justin London, 2006
Analzying Cuban Clave Performance
Ginga: A Brazilian way to groove, Santos Neto, J., 2010
Rhythmic Cognition in Humans and Animals, Fitch, 2013


Perception of "Rhythm Necklaces"
Auditory Neuroscience
How audition works
NYU Music Cognition experiments
The evolution of hearing (In evolutionary terms, hearing is about survival. Music came later.)
Michel Camilo Trio live in Madrid: Rhythmic, but not periodic?

Schedule (please note that these entries are subject to slight variations):

Week 1 Sept 8

Introduction and Overview; what to expect, with some initial musical examples from Africa, Cuba, Bulgaria, India.
What is ethnomusicology and where did it come from? (vergleichende Musikwissenschaft)
What is classical music? Does it only exist in the West? Compare with folk and popular music.
What is computational ethnomusicology?
What is cultural anthropology?
What is consciousness? perception? cognition?
What is auditory neuroscience?

Cultural Autobiography (due in September 26)
Your musical examples to present to the class (due September 29th, ongoing)

Week 2 Sept 12             Reading: Chapt. 1, 2, 3

What is the difference between pulse, meter, periodicity, rhythm and sycnopation? (Compare definitions of rhythm in the book, pages 2-4. Favourites?)
Prescriptive vs Descriptive notation (Charles Seeger)
Demo: What does a "random" rhythm sound like? (on a continuous time-scale vs quantized time)
Chant: is this non-rhythmic or arhythmic?
Where is one? Or is there a one? Perhaps this is our Western approach.

Ranges of periodicity, and theories of global rhythm: -additive- (atoms), -divisive- (binary tree), -mesoperiodic- (repeating overlapping patterns)
Rhythm as acoustic vs symbolic: in either case, there is no "answer in the back of the book." How do we know our representation is correct?
Inter-onset intervals, perceptual attack time

Options for notating rhythm:
-Traditional musical notation (shows the meter and its relation to a pulse, which is useful and familiar to musicians)
-TUBS notation ("Time Unit Box Sytsem) shows the "layout" of the rhythm, is useful for showing polyrhythmic relationships, and is easier for non-musicians to understand)
-Digital notation is useful for computer manipulations and testing: [1 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 0] is son clave, for example
-Geometric notation (this option shows various spacial aspects like symmety, rotation, etc)

Specificity: the link between specific sounds (instruments like drums) and specific rhythms; traditional rhythms are usually played on particular instruments.

Week 3 Sept 19           Reading: Chapt. 4, 5, 6

AFRICA con'td
Mother AFRICA - origin of our species? The African aesthetic vs the European aesthetic
What does evolution have to do with music?
What is the human ability to entrain to a pulse/rhythm? Is it unique to homo sapiens?
The Biology and Evolution of Rhythm: Unravelling a Paradox, Fitch, published in Rebuschat, et al (Eds): "Language and Music as Cognitive Systems" Oxford University Press.

video: LISTENING TO THE SILENCE: African Cross-Rhythms (33 min)

The profound influence of Africa on Western popular music, and therefore/thereby on popular music around the world.
Also the pervasiveness of the African aesthetic in EDM (electronic dance music): LOOPS.

Week 4 Sept 26           Reading: Chapt. 7
AFRICA (cont'd)
Speech Surrogates: Yoruba talking drum

Adzrowo example
Gahu example (in isolation, how do you konw if the kagan is playing on or off the beat?)
Agbekor (slow) example
Agbekor (fast) example

Week 5 Oct 3           Reading: Chapt. 8
AFRICA (cont'd)
I BRING WHAT I LOVE, Yousou n'Dour (Senegal)

Week 6 Oct 10             Reading: Chapt. 9.
Cuba: 3-2 vs 2-3 son clave vs rumba clave
Brazil: samba, batucada, canbomblé, bossa nova

Week 7 Oct 17           Reading: Chapt. 10
video: DUNDUN, The Talking Drum, voice of the Gods (Nigeria)

Week 8 Oct 24          Reading: Chapt. 11
QUIZ 1 — Listening and short answer sections (Africa, Cuba, Brazil)

Week 9 Oct 31         Reading: Chapt. 13
INDIA -- Hindustani (North) vs Karnatic (South) Indian Music

Form: alap, jor, jhalaa model progression for almost any time-based artform
Upanishads / Vedic chants --
origins of Indian music?

Theory: tala, raga, bols, tihai, keeping tal (kriyas); "nested" tihai's

Most common talas in North Indian music
Name Beats Division Vibhaga (x = sam, 0 = khali)
Tintal 16 4+4+4+4 X 2 0 3
Jhoomra 14 3+4+3+4 X 2 0 3
Tilwada 16 4+4+4+4 X 2 0 3
Dhamar 14 5+2+3+4 X 2 0 3
Ektar and Chautal 12 2+2+2+2+2+2 X 0 2 0 3 4
Jhaptal 10 2+3+2+3 X 2 0 3
Keherwa 8 4+4 X 0
Rupak (Mughlai/Roopak) 7 3+2+2 X 2 3
Dadra 6 3+3 X 0

Week 10 Nov 7         Reading: Chapt. 14
QUIZ 2— Listening and short answer (India)

Week 11 Nov 14
Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary
Nama Orchestra: dance from Shopluk, Bulgaria

Week 12 Nov 21        
Paper Due Nov 28
Altered states of consciousness, shamanism, how much can we learn from EEG and other physiological measurements of brain activity?
Minimalism: Steve Reich's trip to Ghana / aesthetic foundations of minimalism / experiential (the description of the music differs completely from the experience of listening). Listening experiments, improvisations. Contemporary composers and rhythmic approaches (Messiaan, Ligeti, Reich)
Visualization of Rite of Spring vs. musical score

Week 13 Dec 1        
Microtiming -- systematic vs random deviations from canonical patterns
Video Journal due Dec 1
FINAL PROJECTS, in-class presentations due December 1 (last class)

Optional (more difficult) chapters: 15, 16, 23, 27, 30, 31, 37, 38 (also 26, 28, 29, 32, 36)

Music software: Max/MSP/Jitter, Pro Tools, sndpeek, Audacity
Randomness in pitch and rhythm: what does it actually sound like? (Max patch)
Auditory Demonstrations CD (Acoustical Society)

Listening examples played in class:
Edgard Varese: Ionization
Steve Reich: Drumming, Clapping Music, Music for 18 Musicians
Olivier Messiaen: Quartet for the End of Time,
Georgy Ligeti: piano etudes
Conjunto Folklórico Nacional de Cuba
Ilú Añá, Sacred Rhythms of Cuba
Cuban percussion
Miles Davis, Kind of Blue (the blues progresses into jazz)
African Musical Examples
rumba tonada

Other Videos (possible selections from list below):
Oggún: An Eternal Presence
The Scorpion / El Alacrán
Black Orpheus Divine Horsemen (Haiti)
Oliver Jones in Africa
The Science of the Senses: Hearing
From Neurons to Nirvana
Simha Arom, ethnomusicologist
Alive Inside

Listening suggestions (Cuba)