Organic polyrhythms are hard to obtain. Charles Cohen was a master of that and after having had his records on loop for some time I started to notice something interesting: how does he achieve polyrhythmic structures with only one sound?! easy, don’t repeat the common accents between the 2 (or more) rhythms, let me explain.
I’m fully aware of Cohen’s use of the 16 seconds delay to drive the Easel Sequencer, but I will deal with this in a future post. For now I just want to state something obvious that might get overlooked in drum machines rhythmic practice: what “rhythmic melody” does any given polyrhythm have?!
Once this is clear, it’s possible to structure a sequence that follows this sort of melody utilizing just one voice/sequence, freeing up something else in your system to add other layers.
2 against 3 in 8th notes (L = low sound, H = high sound, R = rest):
L R H L H R
or in 16th:
L R R R H R L R H R R R
Also, in this video excerpt I’m practicing a rhythmic structure with a series of nested 3 against 4; the main one comes from the arp sent from the MIDI keyboard that goes first through a custom MIDI Mod Matrix and then to the Easel Command triggering the E.Gen and SVS, both set to a 3 against 4 pattern and triggering respectively LPG 1 and 2. Exploiting the “dead” octave of the Easel keyboard MIDI input to add a rest from the main sequence. The rest is delay moving from one subdivision to another + the SVS doubling the accents, timbre etc… mostly through the MOD Matrix,