Kodwo Eshun on Rhythm (in modern music)
from: Swarm 3 "Abducted by Audio (Live)"

Thank you Mr. Eshun. I've been grasping at the Rhythm question a lot in the last few years and I was so elated to have happened upon some real insight.

"Part of the assumption that still exists in music is that futuristic music will somehow be beatless, somehow there won't be many rhythms, somehow it'll be weightless. It has a long heritage, going back from Holst's Planet Suite through to Kraftwerk, this idea that music will be transcendental and weightless, that somehow the beats will just slough off and we'll just kind of float through space astrally. But we know better now. After drum 'n' bass has retroactively switched us back on to the presence of rhythm, we know that the future will not only be just rhythmic, it'll be hyper-rhythmic. So in this sense when cyber-people keep talking about, "What's the fate of the body?", when they keep on moaning, "the body's going to wither away, the mind-body problem, it's so depressing," as far as I'm concerned rhythmic psychedelia is the opposite. The body's being triggered, the body's being switched on. Sensory perception is being triggered at a furious rate and, as far as I'm concerned, it's much more interesting to look at the idea of rhythm. Look at any piece of music writing and you'll notice an incredible absence about rhythm. So many people are unable to talk about rhythm. Music writers will talk about anything except what the beats are doing. It's actually very difficult. Rhythm is this terra incognita, it's this continent we've yet to land on. So you've got this strange dichotomy, what we call a gulf crisis: on the one hand, music is getting hyper-rhythmic, more rhythmic and psychedelic; on the other hand, the writing and the way we discuss it is more impoverished than ever. It's the most incredible thing."

"That's where I see music going: it's getting much more rhythmic, much more rhythmically psychedelic. We really have to start thinking about what rhythm does, how do we explain it, what is it, how does it work? The first thing to do is to acknowledge that rhythm isn't really about notes or beats, it's about intensities, it's about crossing a series of thresholds across your body. Sound doesn't need any discourse of representation, it doesn't need the idea of discourse or the signifier: you can use sound as an immediate material intensity that grabs you. When you hear a beat, a beat lands on your joints, it docks on the junction between your joints and articulates itself onto your joints, it seizes a muscle, it gives you this tension, it seizes you up, and suddenly you find your leg lifting despite your head. Sound moves faster than your head, sound moves faster than your body. What sound is doing is triggering impulses across your muscles."

"That's why drum 'n' bass talks a lot about the stepper, because sound is literally articulating you as a kind of exo-skeleton It's almost like your feet are gaining an intelligence at the expense of your head, or your arse, or your back, or your shoulders are gaining intelligence at the expense of your head. Anywhere you have a sense of tension, that's the beginning, that's the signs of a bodily intelligence switching itself on. And that's what rhythm is doing. You can foresee a point where the body is mutated by rhythm to the point where the head becomes completely superfluous, becomes this flabby muscle bouncing around, aimlessly lolling around, while your muscles go twenty to the dozen. In fact, of course, this already exists; its jungle. That's the whole point of it."

50 Proposals for the Future of Sounds

Martin Puryear “Plenty's Boast”

1. A digital recording is a score, performed by trained and partially equipped experiencers.

2. New bots inhabit the spaces between samples. They communicate to one another the absences and potentials alluded to by a moment of media.

3. Inter–disciplinary gave way to anti-disciplinary fades into post-disciplinary erased by the inconceivable volume of communicative possibilities.

4. One moment (in multitudes) of sound: so loud that every mobile Malleus (hammer) on earth flexes in honor of the experiment

5. Sample rate so rapid that the time each bit inhabits has been warped by the speed necessary to collect its binary name.

6. Immerse the public in Perilymph.

7. Chemical composition determines resonance. The composer is a chemist.

8. Emotional resonance is the body’s unwillingness to relinquish expressive decisions to the brain.

9. The network, starts as a string (cable). Becomes a web. Becomes a porous fabric. Becomes a metallic sheet. Becomes a dense compression of strata. Becomes a living skin inhabited by emerged consciousness.

10. The network has wildlife. Predators, Prey, Parasites, Fauna, Sickness, Herbs.

11. Design is Disease. Disease is Mutation. Mutation is Design.

12. Learn to understand memory by depleting/processing your material possessions.

13. I believe in emptiness, vibration and electricity.

14. Isolate the ingredients for your projects. Molecules, Cells, Atoms, Consciousness.

15. Dark matter is a musical frontier.

16. Space travel is inhabiting sound on pause.

17. Rhythm is the body. Headphones are disembodiment.

18.Sounds to examine: purchases, energy, children interacting on the network, the oscillation of viral exchange, the afterlife of packaging material, human migration, melting.

19. Designate each person as a sample and derive 37,792 hours of CD quality audio.

20. Screaming is a commodified point of view.

21. Vibration is an elusive business model. Purchasing power is equivalent to memory.

22. Musical creation becomes the output of networked and cybernetically predictive conglomerates. Their objectives fluctuate between arousal, placation and inciting amnesia

23. Atonal and arrhythmic recordings are subjects of anthropological discourse.

24. Isorhythm becomes an affliction.

25. Audio warfare is the subject of congressional hearings in which the public debates sonic cruelty and the woeful of lack of adequate protection for the nation’s citizens and armed forces.

26. Middle Ear nano-receptors revolutionize the memory enhancement and psycho-acoustic capabilities of multi-function cognitive entertainment systems.

27. Neocortical Sound Synthesis programs are officially added to most prenatal and early childhood music curricula.

28. Vibration from city, highway and airport noise is stored and reused via kinetic energy cells.

29. Standardized measuring of personal sound energy flux allows everyone to ascertain his or her own relative (native) receptivity (density) to experimental audio.

30. Teach fractal synthesis, electrical current phrase mimicry, breath/pulse listening, audiosomatic pain reduction, “hearing things” as composition, and sonic turmoil.

31. Post-Digital is the frontier in which ones and zeros (quantum particles) exhibit predictive behavior.

32. Bruises are bodily reverberations of compacted/inertial sound.

33. Sounds to examine: Vocal and cerebral activity during prayer, the oscillation of public opinion, internal organ noise of grain fed livestock, bacterial evolution, the numerical resonance of economic collapse.

34. Develop a new theory of musical pleasure based on perceived hype, redundancy, and novelty.

35. As a composer, expect emotional and critical sublimation from your audience.

36. Sensory dissonance on the basilar membrane (inner ear) is a widely accepted technique in popular/commercial music.

37. Auditory hallucinogenic drugs are delivered illicitly on personal music players.

38. Drum machines develop cybernetic (organic) personality.

39. Rhythm regains lifespan.

40. After the unification of Physics, composers work to make the world of quantum mechanics audible (popular).

41. Musical Nano-Drugs, which allow adults to enjoy their children’s music, are commercially available. Bots benignly invade the auditory cortex and install the neuron structures of your choice.

42. Absolute Pitch, Environmental Mute Function, Hearing Reinstatement, and Earshot Extension, are all available commercially.

43. Sound comes from the brain’s evolutionary need to fictionalize (embellish) vibration.

44. Pitch is an invented linguistic outgrowth of sound.

45. Music is a longstanding human accident (adornment) in which the brain rewards itself, and the body, for it own accomplishment and discovery.

46. Noise is a constructed regret. Fake.

47. Rhythm, as a structure, is the (a) fundamental unit of life and physical organization.

48. The composer is measured against the possibility of visceral ecstasy. She is loaded down with the failures and Gnostic wisdom of tradition. She is able to conjure and deaden. She is never taught what is available, but it is still available.

49. Recording: initially the instatement of illusionistic reverberation into the seat of authentic experience. It inaugurated a colonial structure onto the haphazard economy of musical experience and experimentation. Recording turned on itself and became the subject of it’s own gaze (colonization). Recording became wilderness anew. It seeped into the ground.

50. Music is the human effort to civilize air.


What are we working with?

Memory (antiquity)

Recording (depletion)
Prediction (pleasure)
Synthetics (authenticity)
Energy (source)
Waste (creation)

Pulse (rhythm) Vibration (imaginary) Pain (stimuation) Pleasure (survival)