This does for RHYTHM. what IFR does for harmony

Just started reading this $5 short ebook, I am half way through, but already I can confidently say that it does for rhythm what IFR does for harmony… a universally applicable system underlying most of music. And a method to use to make better rhythms

The book is written in the context of pop songs, by a successful composer. I believe this is going to improve my music practice a lot.


I read it through once and it certainly looks interesting. Have you recreated the examples for yourself yet?

Not yet. I work slow. Rhythm beyond marching band has always been a problem for me, but I have high hopes for this approach. Will take me lots of practice, just like IFR.

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As I do not want to take away the profits for the author (who asks a very reasonable price for his booklet), I only say that the author points at some strong points in any 4/4 measure for melody notes or improvisation. These strong points are organised around the claves of salsa rhythm.
I like the idea of it, and, what is more important, it works for me in improvising.
I only wonder how to apply this rhythm code to 3/4 music.

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I bought it on the basis the author had spent many hours developing and documenting something of interest to me and was only charging the price of a couple of coffees. It was an interesting read and enough for me to put it on my (never-ending) list of musical things to do in more detail.

You’re right. Maybe this system the author develops does not cover every possible rhythm style. But it covers a lot, in fact a vast amount in pop and jazz styles. So I’m going to study it. I expect to get more than any other single approach. Right now I’m starting out by improvising over the clave. It’s great fun to to.

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Just ran into a FREE (but oddly named) browser-based app that manipulates 1,2, or 3 rhythms at a time. Fun to play with, but also helps you conceptualize what’s going on with many kinds of grooves.

Look here, take the tutorial. Have fun. Groove Pizza | The Ethan Hein Blog

If you like the app, you should look at the book it’s based on, which has the subtitle “What makes a good rhythm good” RIP Godfried Toussaint | The Ethan Hein Blog

You can get a PDF copy from pdfdrive while you’re waiting for your book order to arrive.

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Late to this thread, but I’ll add this for reference. I haven’t read this book, but the best treatment of rhythm I’ve come across is the book Forward Motion by Hal Galper. This video is a talk by him that covers the material from the book: Hal Galper Master Class - Rhythm and Syncopation - YouTube

The book deals mostly with jazz but given that the author of this other book discovered his insight when learning afro-latin music, they are probably talking about the same thing. In short, in 4/4 time, beat 1 is the end of the measure, not the start. Strong melodies END in beat 1. Beat 3 is the next strongest beat. Beats 2 and 4 are not as strong.

So you should think of 4/4 time as 2/2, which is similar to bossa nova. For rhythms other than 4/4, the same still applies. in 3/4, there’s only one strong beat at beat 1. In 5/4, it’s either 2 + 3 or 3 + 2, and so on.

@martinmr The Rhythm Code book is more pop oriented, but still right in line with Galper’s Forward Motion book. Both are great for getting away from what music notation implies about rhythm.

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I’m always puzzled by how poorly explained and how little rhythm is discussed. To me rhythm is the heart if all music. Literally, the beating heart. There is no music without rhythm. But, our thinking brains like to focus on notes, chords, harmony, and ignore the underlying stuff.

What the guy said in the video really resonated “rhythm first”, “think of the rhythm and put notes to it”.

Also, what he briefly mentioned about imitation, “make it sound like this”, made me think of my ear training practice and trying to learn to play by ear.

I’ll have to check out his book now.

The book is quite expensive, so been watching sone more of his videos …

This one reinforces what I’ve been aiming for with my ear training.

Thanks @martinmr for putting me on to this guy. Been watching some more videos, here’s another good one about practicing What is practice/What to practice

Jazz is not really my thing, but what he says applies to any genre, listen a lot, sing stuff, and when you can hear it loudly in your head take it to your instrument. “Feed your ears”

Art is about teaching you something about yourself you didn’t know before.

@mem. You can find galpers book on his website for $17, Or you could do a Google search for HAL GALPER FORWARD MOTION PDF

For historical reasons that’s sort of what I do automatically, since for the best part of 60 years rhythm was the one bit of music I knew I understood! It’s only recently I discovered that I’m not really tone deaf & thus I can explore pitch too. :smiley:

@mem Here in the UK even ‘used’ copies are expensive (where I looked they were higher priced than ‘new’ !).

Here in the UK the Kindle price is close to the equivalent of that.

I’m happy to read novels, biography & certain types of technical book (e.g. Bible Study) on an e-reader but personally I find that for music books & most other technical books I still much prefer a hard copy. It’s nice to note that the hard copy of Galper’s book is spiral bound. :slight_smile:

Edited to correct typo (is corrected to in).

Do you still get access to the audio files when you buy the hard copy?

This was the first video of his that I saw and it blew my mind. Not sure how expensive the book shows up for you, but I would say the book is worth having. What’s in the videos covers just the first couple of chapters in the book.

In my endeavour to try to learn tunes by ear, I try to listen and break down the melody into phrases. A lot of the music I like is usually a kind of call and response structure. So, I’m not thinking of bars/measures, but beats and phrases. Not sure how this aligns with what he describes as melodies ending on beat 1, have to ponder over this one.

Strong melodies resolve in strong beats might be a better phrasing. Playing on the weak beats creates tension that needs to be resolved. The coming strong beats act as an attractor that the musician looks for to resolve the tension they created, which is where the name forward motion comes from.

Thinking of 4/4 time as 2/2 makes it clear that the strong beats are 1 and 3 and gives musicians the freedom to swing and have their own individuality while remaining coherent because they have agreed on when they will resolve the tension their interplay creates. At least that’s how I understand what he’s saying.

This makes sense to me. A lot of the music I play and listen to is essentially music to dance to, with a strong pulse. This corresponds to where you would tap your foot. In a 4/4 tune, you would not tap on 1,2,3,4 but only on 1 and 3.