Synchronisation and rhythm

Especially for generative music

In the deserts of Sudan
And the gardens of Japan
From Milan to Yucatan
Every woman, every man

Hit me with your rhythm stick
Hit me, hit me
Je t’adore, ich liebe dich
Hit me, hit me, hit me
Hit me with your rhythm stick
Hit me slowly, hit me quick
Hit me, hit me, hit me

— Ian Dury & The Blockheads - Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick

Note on rhythm, the understanding and making, amnd detecting of it.

To mention/taxonomise/disambiguate:

  • correlograms
  • “vector strength” and event-based doohickeys versus continuous-signal systems
  • Kuramoto oscillators
  • Circle map
  • phase locked loops
  • “Entrainment” (Is that phase locking from the analysis rather than design perspective?)
  • The attraction of Pythagorean rhythms
  • machine listening for it
  • Lucky People Center International
  • Autocorrelation structures and simulating point processes from them

Making rhythms

Neurological/Psychological basis


“We’ve isolated the rhythms in the brain that match rhythms in music,” explains Keith Doelling, an NYU Ph.D. student and the study’s lead author. “Specifically, our findings show that the presence of these rhythms enhances our perception of music and of pitch changes.” […] Brain rhythms, they add, therefore appear to play a role in parsing and grouping sound streams into ‘chunks’ that are then analyzed as speech or music.

Or how about a dynamical systems approach? Famously, (Haken, Kelso, and Bunz 1985) does this: I found this paper fascinating, although the fact they spun several books out of it afterwards seemed to me to be gilding the lily.

To read

Breakbeat cuts

Slicing up your percussion line into mad junglist syncopations is a whole world of its own. Asides from selling a lot of vinyl, it has attracted significant academic interest.

Think of group theory angle, like a Rubik’s cube. Is it a pure group theoretic problem? Or are there additional constraints on a breakbeat cut such that it is still considered rhythmic?

Periodicity Analysis

I’m coming at this from a musical angle; The correlation at different scales can be weird and wonderful and I wonder if some algorithm from the world of Nonlinear Time Series Wizardry could help.

This overlaps with a lot of things, but my core question is best summarised:

Can I use machine learning to identify what about breakbeat cuts makes them rhythmically interesting? What range of repetition between infinite sameness and total chaos is musically attractive?

More generally, identifying cycles and periodicity is itself interesting, so I’ll collect some notes to that purely abstract end here too.


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