Rhythm is omnipresent. It begins with birth- by the heart beat and the count of it determines the life span itself. Rhythm is present in every action and work that we do, right from walking, to talking, to sleeping and even the pace of eating food.
Every person is blessed with their own unique imprint of rhythm and without it- Music is meaningless. Rhythm defines the pace of a composition, the feeling it shows, and gives a wonderful pictorial representation to the listener. In fact, rhythm defines the journey of a song- and guides the listener through a kinesthetic experience.
Carnatic Music in particular is quite rigid and disciplined when it comes to the aspect of rhythm. Right from the simplest Eka taalam (of four beats in each cycle) to the longest talam ever discovered named Simhanandana (128 beats), the system of Carnatic Music is heavily reliant on the rhythmic base.
With various instruments to choose from mridangam, konakkal, kanjira, and even morsing- the music form is not dearth of percussions. The variation in rhythm adds a new layer altogether in every Carnatic composition leading to amazing renditions.
When it comes to western classical music or even Jazz- it is all about rhythm. Jazz in particular has complex rhythms that bring in new arenas of music for the listener. With poly-rhythms, where rhythms exist within itself, Jazz is an amazingly based rhythm genre.
A drum solo of Jazz itself shows the fantastic presence of rhythm in the genre. Without time signature, a western composition cannot escape the feel of the rhythm.
Rhythm brings up discipline to a composition and lays the bricks of a foundation for a composition. Irrespective of the genre, rhythm brings in life to a composition that is greater than anything else. Without rhythm, any form of music doesn’t bring in the dynamism needed for a composition.
No matter how big the symphony orchestra might comprise of, and how rich the Carnatic ensemble is- rhythmic instrument is a must. Though it is the lead instrument or vocals that bring the focus on to themselves when it comes to a performance, rhythm is the hidden beauty that runs the show forward. Whether a string instrument, or a wind instrument- or even a random horn in a traffic signal- every object (not just musical instrument) has a unique rhythm associated with it.
In fact, there is a deeper philosophy of rhythm than we think. The pace in which we lead life- with the hurry of technology, mobile phone notifications, and hurry of completing tasks- in faster way than they should be – have rhythm as the main element associated with it. By understanding that every action needs to be done based on a rhythm linked with it, one can lead a peaceful and magical life ahead!
Take some time out to understand how rhythm runs a composition- whenever you listen to a song next- it will surely take you to a new level of magical world altogether!