Ewe Drumming - Cross-rhythmic Structure - 3:2 (hemiola)


3:2 (hemiola)

The most fundamental cross-rhythm in Ewe music, and Sub-Saharan African music traditions in general, is three-against-two (3:2), or six-against-four (6:4), also known as a vertical hemiola. The cycle of two or four beats are the main beat scheme, while the triple beat scheme is secondary. Ladzekpo states: "The term secondary beat scheme refers to a component beat scheme of a cross rhythm other than the main beat scheme. In a similar manner as a main beat, each secondary beat is distinguished by measuring off a distinct number of pulsations. A recurrent grouping of a number of these beats in a musical period forms a distinct secondary beat scheme."

We have to grasp the fact that if from childhood you are brought up to regard beating 3 against 2 as being just as normal as beating in synchrony, then you develop a two dimensional attitude to rhythm… This bi-podal conception is… part of the African's nature—Jones (1959: 102)

Novotney observes: "The 3:2 relationship (and permutations) is the foundation of most typical polyrhythmic textures found in West African musics." 3:2 is the generative or theoretic form of sub-Saharan rhythmic principles. Agawu succinctly states: " resultant rhythm holds the key to understanding . . . there is no independence here, because 2 and 3 belong to a single Gestalt."

Read more about this topic:  Ewe Drumming, Cross-rhythmic Structure