Foundation Course in African Music

Rhythmic Principles


The Myth of Cross-Rhythm

At the center of a core of rhythmic traditions within which the composer conveys his ideas is the technique of cross rhythm. The technique of cross rhythm is a simultaneous use of contrasting rhythmic patterns within the same scheme of accents or meter.

In Anlo-Ewe cultural understanding, the technique of cross rhythm is a highly developed systematic interplay of varying rhythmic motions simulating the dynamics of contrasting moments or emotional stress phenomena likely to occur in actual human existence.

As a preventive prescription for extreme uneasiness of mind or self-doubt about one's capacity to cope with impending or anticipated problems, these simulated stress phenomena or cross-rhythmic figures are embodied in the art of dance-drumming as mind-nurturing exercises to modify the expression of the inherent potential of the human thought in meeting the challenges of life. The premise is that by rightly instituting the mind in coping with these simulated emotional stress phenomena, intrepidity is achieved.

Intrepidness, or resolute fearlessness, in Anlo-Ewe view, is an extraordinary strength of mind. It raises the mind above the troubles, disorders and emotions which the anticipation or sight of great perils is calculated to excite. It is by this strength that ordinary people become heroes, by maintaining themselves in a tranquil state of mind and preserving the free use of their reason under most surprising and terrible circumstances.


Structure Of African Rhythm


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