An Introduction To Euclidean Rhythms

This video, via Voltage Control Lab, takes a look at Euclidean Rhythms, Godfried Toussaint’s theory that The Euclidean Algorithm Generates Traditional Musical Rhythms (pdf). 

The basic concept of Euclidean Rhythms is that distributing an arbitrary number of beats evenly over a larger number of pulses generates a musically useful rhythm – and that many of these rhythms are found in music around the world.

At a basic level, distributing 4 kicks over 16 pulses and 2 claps over the same 16 pulses results in one of the most common dance music patterns. But Toussaint shows that more complex relationships, like 3 beats over 8 pulses gives you the Cuban tresillo pattern, 5 over 16 gives you the bossa nova and 7 over 12 gives you a common West African bell pattern.

Here’s a deeper look at using the Mutable Instruments Yarns module to generate Euclidean Rhythms: