PolyRhythmic Nations

In my undergrad days in Minnesota in the 1990s, an adult (of non musical stature) declared a certain rhythm as being “steady”. She also declared that all rhythms were “steady”.  I’m sure she meant well, but I knew better, and thought she needs to keep those myopic ‘square’ generalizations to herself.  

Mind everyone that in the 1990s, we didn’t have access to an I tunes, Apple Music,or the internet to help us to listen to other cultural rhythms in other nations.  I, however, worked at a college radio station.  One of the programs aired during my on-air time played international music.  I didn’t always understand the lyrics of the music, but the beats, sounds and the rhythms sent me to a polyrhythmic place.  Many programs were recorded live from India, or Africa.  Many programs sent to our station for on-air broadcast hailed the rhythms of the Caribbean, Central and South America.  

 I would never describe these rhythms as ‘steady’.  In fact many acoustical-instrumental rhythms recorded for these weekly programs had more than one sub-context of rhythm in action at a time.  All songs had its own groove, feeling and mood.  All songs were beautiful.  I wouldn’t describe any of the rhythms as ‘steady’.  

In the late 1990s, I actually lived in Honduras, and then Nicaragua.  In this experience, I was able to listen to a few of the artists featured in the recordings that I listened to at the radio station. Much of the music I heard sounded (many times) spontaneous, improvised, and rhythm-rich.

I recommend to anyone who appreciates music, or studies music,  to travel to feel the soul of a different music.  Listen to non-‘steady’ beats, and polyrhythmic sessions. If you are preparing to go, step out of your own comfort zone and experience music from far away using your Apple Music, or other platforms to give you the experience of Polyrhythmic Nations.      


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