Some years ago I was touring together with bass player Alex Blake and percussionist Yaya Ouattara and we talked hours long in the tour bus about science, religion, music, politics, and of course… about rhythm. We were talking about the phrasing of the Gnawas, comparing it to the Brazilians, trying to figure out how afro-cuban music was fitting in the picture, and so on.
At some point our driver Yogi who had gotten bored by our brainy discussions laughed and said: « You like science? Bring your screwdriver! ». This sentence became a running gag among us and now many years later whenever I have Alex on the phone we ask each other about science and the screwdriver (thank you Yogi!).
At that time I had just begun to ask myself theoretical questions about rhythm. I was only beginning to discover the immense richness of the different phrasings around the world and starting to figure out how to practice those feels on the piano.
I kept the screwdriver in mind and this led me, through many discoveries and developments, to enunciate what I now call the General Theory of Rhythm. These findings have had a revolutionary impact on how I perceive, practice, describe and teach rhythm. Also, I believe the theory could apply to various fields, such as musicology for the study of African or afro-rooted music in particular, music software topics like tempo tracking by offering a new approach to rhythm analysis, and in even in electronic sound synthesis as the mathematical model established to describe the theory could demand the development of different transforms than the Fourier transform.
However up to now I had never brought these ideas on paper and mostly practiced and taught them oraly. Hence the present blog which is dedicated to this body of work. It will feature a description of the General Theory Of Rhythm with examples, tutorials, and I’ll add further ideas and developments as they come.