Evolutionary Benefit of Odd Music Rhythms

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pinball1970
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Perhaps binary is the actual natural base : 5|10 being just some freak evolutionary sidetrack. It would explain why my cat sucks at arithmetic : her natural proclivity is towards base 2.
@symbolipoint referred to this. Spandrel
 
symbolipoint
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@symbolipoint referred to this. Spandrel
I did not know what you meant until I made a quick search on internet and found and read very briefly a wikipedia article on "spandrel".
 
pinball1970
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I did not know what you meant until I made a quick search on internet and found and read very briefly a wikipedia article on "spandrel".
Me too and my 'strong point' is biology supposedly. Never heard of it till his post.
 
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A related question worth investigating is, "what sounds in the natural world don't adhere to quadruple meter (4/4 time)?". Identify what they are, then evaluate whether being able to understand and/or mimic them provides an evolutionary advantage.
Here is Messiaen's transcription of a prairie chicken with barred as 2/16 | 2/8 | 3/16| 2/8

Prairie_Chicken.jpg


cant really call walking 4/4 time. Obviously walking involves two legs so a walking rhythm would have an even number of beats, but the meter could be anything - 2/4 6/4 8/4 whatever (and equivalently 2/8 2/2 etc)

Musical traditions of the near east and India all have rhythms that are combinations of 2 and 3 beat patterns
 
symbolipoint
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Me too and my 'strong point' is biology supposedly. Never heard of it till his post.
I think something is confused here, between two very different topics of the forum. "Spandrel" was related to evolution of dogs from wolves, about the raising the inner eyebrow? Not about evolution of odd rhythms?
 
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There are some profound differences between shuffle and straight in terms of feel although they are both 4/4.
Dance music uses these rhythms and those tribal genes chiming could be one of the reasons why it was so popular.
The complex ones I think are a much later modification.
I was ruminating on 'talking drums', and how metrical variation allows encoding more information than possible with a straight metronymic beat.

https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/04/if-you-listen-closely-drumbeats-amazonian-tribes-sound-human-speech

Also recalled an article discovered when looking up something about Jeff Porcaro. Found it fascinating how temporal variations in his beat exhibit fractal characteristics.
https://www.mpg.de/9379548/fractals-set-the-tone
 
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There are some profound differences between shuffle and straight in terms of feel although they are both 4/4
I had to look up "shuffle" which redirected to "swing", which I have a passing familiarity with... except I always thought that jazz-swing was without quantization. (I like light jazz ; a bit envious of the genre, mostly the chords). Learn something new every day.

Horses canter straight but Gallup as a shuffle.
Sooooo.... horses got rhythm ? Okay, bilateral symmetry makes for a natural 2 without emphasis, and a 4 with (front and back legs are different loads), but if their swing is actually quantized, I'm still "wow, that's neat", and we're back to metre as a natural occurence (at least in symmetrical beings).
 
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Horses canter straight but Gallup as a shuffle.

Did you mean: gallop ??

Or, was that meant as a jock . joke ?
.
 
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Also Medieval music is predominantly in triple meters, as is most renaissance secular music

The 4/4 march alluded to as somehow ‘natural’ is a product of the military drill that came later with the adoption of firearms
 
symbolipoint
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This might be meaningful but not really sure how:
Note that we like to cut things into two or three equal parts, repeatedly and sometimes in combination.
 
pinball1970
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I think something is confused here, between two very different topics of the forum. "Spandrel" was related to evolution of dogs from wolves, about the raising the inner eyebrow? Not about evolution of odd rhythms?
Ok reading many threads and getting confused. At least two of us now know what a spandrel is.
 
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pinball1970
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Did you mean: gallop ??

Or, was that meant as a jock . joke ?
.
Corrected. Spelling mistake.
 
symbolipoint
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Ok reading many threads and getting confused. At least two of now know what a spandrel is.
I see. I have participated in both topics. You too.
 
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The 4/4 march alluded to as somehow ‘natural’ is a product of the military drill that came later with the adoption of firearms
Augustine of Hippo - a 4th century scholar - wrote a treatise on music rhythm : I'm not entirely sure*, but I think he included 4/ as well as 2/ for marching.

* The (very large) library had two copies: the original in 4c Latin, the other in Mediaeval English... the Latin one was actually easier to read**.

** by which I mean refer to the dictionary - something not available for Auld English - every second word, and outright ignoring declensions, conjugations and grammar. I only managed a few near-randomly chosen paragraphs before running out of Tylenol.

Ok reading many threads and getting confused. At least two of now know what a spandrel is.
I'm not one of them, but strangely this is the second time this week I've tripped over that word. I'm going with either a tendon, or possibly a reference to the shape of a horse's chest/front-legs joinery.
 
pinball1970
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Plenty of things justify their existence without recourse to evolutionary biology and natural selection 'just so' narratives.

The music of Baka and Mbenga ('pygmy') peoples of central africa is likely one of the oldest surviving musical systems. It is both polyphonic and rhythmically complex

Just had a chance to listen to this. The opening parts after what sounds like a warm up sound like 7/4 which contradicts pretty much everything I have said. One could still say it's 'straight' as there is no shuffle but this is far from simple.
 
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pinball1970
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I had to look up "shuffle" which redirected to "swing", which I have a passing familiarity with... except I always thought that jazz-swing was without quantization. (I like light jazz ; a bit envious of the genre, mostly the chords). Learn something new every day.


Sooooo.... horses got rhythm ? Okay, bilateral symmetry makes for a natural 2 without emphasis, and a 4 with (front and back legs are different loads), but if their swing is actually quantized, I'm still "wow, that's neat", and we're back to metre as a natural occurence (at least in symmetrical beings).
Ok I got that wrong too. Horses canter AND gallop as a shuffle, they trot and walk straight.
A shuffle is the 1st and 3rd notes of a triplet repeated so the rhythm is
De d de d de d de
Deep Purple explain it better.
 
pinball1970
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I was ruminating on 'talking drums', and how metrical variation allows encoding more information than possible with a straight metronymic beat.

https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/04/if-you-listen-closely-drumbeats-amazonian-tribes-sound-human-speech

Also recalled an article discovered when looking up something about Jeff Porcaro. Found it fascinating how temporal variations in his beat exhibit fractal characteristics.
https://www.mpg.de/9379548/fractals-set-the-tone
Jeff Porcaro was a great drummer and I am quite sure he would have laughed at the 'I keep forgetting,' analysis. He hated playing it and the recording was take 2 because he was struggling with it.

 
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pinball1970
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Well of course, maybe not all. . . but some do ! . :horse: . :music:

.
Horses don't consciously do this of course it is what ergonomically optimal. To move faster the rhythm has to change and at one point they have all four legs off the ground.
Tribal people would have heard this? It actually sounds like what is called a 4 stroke ruff in drumming. A triplet followed by crotchet.
 
2019 American Association for the Advancement of Science :

The universal language of lullabies and dance songs
By Matt WarrenJan. 29, 2018 , 3:15 PM
Poets proclaiming that music is a universal language may have just been proved right. NPR reports that, according to a new study, people can recognize certain types of songs no matter where they come from. Researchers collected examples of lullabies, dance songs, love songs, and healing songs from 30 different regions, and asked people unfamiliar with the language and culture to identify the purpose of the music. Listeners proved particularly good at recognizing the dance songs and lullabies, but were not quite as adept at identifying love songs or healing songs. Because these songs were made for a purpose—like putting a baby to sleep—researchers writing this month in Current Biology say they likely share common universal traits.
https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/01/universal-language-lullabies-and-dance-songs
Thank you Matt~:oldsmile: I'm a poet! Love poetry. Working on a poem right now.
 
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After studying complexity theory, and from my own experience as a musician, I've come to agree with the idea that music and rhythmics appeal to us strongly when there is a balance of predicatbility and unpredictability (in terms of the listeners capability) embedded in it. In complexity theory, the idea is that the music has Shannon entropy, representing unpredictability, as well as a spectrum of ordered complexity structural (analogous to logical depth, or forcasting complexity for example). The idea is that people like to be challenged and surprised. If its too simple, its too easy, too boring. If it's too complex, we cannot keep up with it, we cannot solve it. Essentially, this possible subconscious motive and drive in music is related to our intelligence and adaptability to the world in general. Whether it is a video game, a movie, music, a sport, we like to be challenged a little, and we like to be surprised. And when we are surprised, we like to try and meet the unexpected challenge. This has obvious evolutionary benefits.

Before I try to make the connection with time signatures, I should say that I think its a little more complicated with music, because the listener can be actively creating ideas in real time with the music they are listening to as a base. For example, a simple beat can be the foundation for a more challenging/complicated structure. And also, music aside from rythmatics, has innate effects on us based on tone and pitch and so forth.

Now in terms of odd beats vs even beats, I believe even beats are easier, maybe partly do to our experience walking, but also just because they have a simpler structure. They have symmetry, can be decomposed in simple basic pieces that fit together nicely. Just purely from a mathematical perspective, they should be easier to understand, and follow along with. Moreover, due to the symmetry, and divisibility, it is easier to predict each next part as you are listening, because the different parts, or self similar cycles are repeating more frequently and you can synchronize quicker and with less information. In complexity theory, this is like a process that has a simplier causal structure, or one that uses less memory, or lower temporal range correlation. That is, you need to see less of the past to predict the future.

If you think about it, 4's are just pairs of 2's, perhaps with some slight difference between each of the 2's. However, the difference between the 2's is usually such that there is interchangability. You can basically plugin any pattern of 2 and it works. Playing around with different variations of 2's then gives some freedome to do slightly less predictable patterns. Then you have 3's, which cannot be broken into parts. It makes up a single atom in a sense. If you want to play with them, you have to combine them with more 3's or some 2's. In any case, it comes with some extra temporal range correlation, and some additional challenge to the listener. To do 5's, you have a 3 and a 2. But this means to synchronize, you need to know if you are on a 2 block or 3 block. So you have to go back a little in time to figure out where you are (probably about at least 6 beats back?). It's more challenging. On the other hand, 6's are just 2 blocks of 3's. They have less temporal range correlation than 5's, and are thus mathematically easier to understand. Still they are a little more complex than 4's. That said, you could have 4's as 3+1, and 6's as 5+1, 3+2+1, etc, in each case where the complexity goes up compared to 2+2 or 3+3. Usually when we think of the even beats though, we are thinking of them as mostly symmetrical patterns. In the worse case, you simply count symmetrically, and still can synchronize on the 1 easily. Then you have 7, it can be 4+3, 5+2, ... Anyways, odd numbers cannot be broken up into repeating same length blocks, and require more real time memory to synchronize with. The larger the number the worse.

Because a great deal of complexity can be superimposed over the rhythm. Having the ability to easily synchronize with the core repeating structure enables more of your problem solving effort to focus on improvisation, or following a different more complex element of the music. If this synchronization is lost, then your grasp on everything else falls apart.

If we were much more talented, maybe more complex and/or odd time signatures would be more appealing to us. Once we have exhausted the challenge of introducing and understanding complexity in terms of variations of even blocks, we would probably gravitate towards odd ones naturally, the same way that a gamer switches to a higher difficulty setting as they progress. So in theory, playing with odd and more complex signatures can come from a high amount of experience, and or raw talent. Also there is probably a spectrum of ways to challenge oneself besides the signature of a single beat alone, such as changes between beats in sections, changes in tempo and dynamics and syncopation, not to mention melodics.

The conclusion is that to some extent, our interest and engagement in rhythematics could be based largely on notions of complexity, and this isn't a unique thing to music. If you want to engage your audience, you should allow them to follow along without getting lost, as you feed them small surprises and challenges. Even beats are easier to synchronize to, which makes them easier to start with, and easier to follow as the core part, and can also extend in complexity well above most peoples limitations. Peoples rhythematics processing skill is a limiting factor. High speed/real time deciphering of more complex event streams has pretty general evolutionary benefit and usefulness in life. As we get further and further from relying on real time/fast thinking+action, we might lose some of our capabilities and interest in complex signatures, and instead become more insteasted in other elements such as things which map more closely to skills in planning, or organization, depending on the case? Who knows really? We cannot ignore the emotional connection also. It's not really a simple case in real life.

By the way, did you know that Aboriginals (from Australia) used songs to record their journeys and record maps, so to speak, of their environment and pass it down through the generations. Their environment was notoriously harsh and difficult to navigate as well. Their music became a integreal part of survival, which should be an interesting case to look at I think, especially in terms of an area I sort of ignoed, which is why specifically we want to memorize patterns.

My thought is that it's not just practicing real time processing, but also exercising our memory, and memorizing important ones that we really need/needed in life. As we gain the ability to predict something we couldn't before, it is reflected in our memory, and becomes automatic. In real time these kind of automatic responses are useful. But also, there may also commonly be cases where it is intertwined with simply memorizing seemingly unrelated patterns of different complexities and within different aspects of our lives (procedures to follow / instructions, navigation, all kinds of things). We are strengthening neural pathways that allow us to predict things generally, and also in practice to memorize real things.
 
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Stephen Tashi
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benefits. For example a 4/4 rhythm might have come from walking. But a complex rhythms such as 11/7, jazz beats, and syncopation don't seem to offer any survival benefits.
Many tasks in manual labor have complex rhythms. e.g. the songs of "gandy dancers".
 

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