Lesson 2 - African Polyrhythms
Polyrhythms are derived from combining rhythms that are derived from two or more modes of the rhythmic scale. Polyrhythms can be found in much of the traditional music of Africa. For this lesson we will look at how polyrhythms are used in African Ewe music and then compose a rhythmic groove using polyrhythms based on the popular 12/8 bell pattern found in lots of African musics.
Materials needed: Internet access, percussion instruments.
I. Teacher led listening:
A. Music of Ghana: Astia Agbekor - Click for youtube video
B. Notation of the basic drum patterns - Click for Noteflight Score
I. Group Lesson (20 min)
A. Teacher introduces the rhythmic scale, demonstrates using a metronome and leads the class in a simple polyrhythm, (2 over 3, 3 over 4 etc.) (See Resource A).
B. Next, the teacher will introduce the African 12/8 bell pattern and play a video of Ewe music of Ghana (See Resource B).
C. Teacher will show students the 12/8 bell pattern notated out on Noteflight in three time signatures, 12/8, 3/4 and 6/8 (See Resource C)
II. Individual work (20 min)
A. Students will log onto noteflight and compose one rhythm that is one based in two measures of 3/4, and one based in two measures of 6/8 (Dotted half note pulse).
B. Once the students have composed both rhythms, they will then copy and paste them to the 12/8 pattern (final) copy on Noteflight.
C. Students will then share their composite rhythms with the class.
III. Group Work (20 min)
A. Students will break into groups of 3 or 4 and practice their polyrhythms, (instruments will be supplied.) Performances should start with one cycle of the bell pattern, followed by a layering in of the other rhythms.
B. Groups will then take turns performing for the class.
IV. Advanced Work
A. Compose a piece of music using your favorite composite polyrhythm.
B. Learn to play all of your polyrhythms yourself, (using all of your limbs!)
C. Create a multi-track recording of your composite rhythm and create a loop from that.
(A) Rhythmic Scale Introduction.
(B) Video of Ewe music of Ghana:
(C) Noteflight Worksheets