If you ask anyone about the origins of the blues genre, more than likely you will get “Africa” as a response. And while you can most certainly trace origins of blues from early African culture – ponder this:
“Why do blues, which is ‘African’ in origin, have a lack of the percussive rhythms that are typically more associated with African music?”
That is more up to a historian to answer that question, but I want to talk today about these asymmetric time-line patterns.
Asymmetric time-line patterns are these rhythmic patterns commonly found in Central and Western Africa. They are intended for percussion parts of one single pitch (or at most two – we’ll discuss more of this soon). A time-line pattern is distinguished by the number of pulses within the cyclical pattern, the number of hits, and the asymmetric grouping.
Below is the 8 pulse cycle broken in a 3+5 asymmetry. The measures on the left show the 5 strike pattern, while the left shows the 3 strike pattern. Notice how they complement each other. While these patterns are intended for a single instrument, a percussion part of two distinct pitches can play these opposing patterns.
In addition, these patterns can be phased into different variations.
While these patterns are not common at all in blues music, I do challenge the creative composer to use these patterns creatively in conjunction with different stylistic combinations.
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