Universiteit Leiden

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Subdivide and Conquer: A Quest for the Hidden Beat

  • Professor Russell Hartenberger
Wednesday 8 November 2017
Rapenburg 73
2311 GJ Leiden
Russell Hartenberger
Professor Russell Hartenberger

As a percussionist, professor Hartenberger spend much of his musical life in the world of rhythm and felt comfortable there. However, in 1970/71, he encountered music that made him reconsider the ways he performed rhythms. He began studying West African drumming and was introduced to a sophisticated rhythmic system that did not use musical notation. At the same time, he began rehearsing Steve Reich’s Drumming, a composition that challenged his learning process and his performance skills and was taught to him by rote. These parallel experiences piqued his curiosity about the way he played rhythms and brought insight to the central questions he has about rhythm: what makes a rhythm compelling; what makes music rhythmically engaging to listen to and to perform; what goes on in the mind and body in order to play rhythms accurately and with steady time. In this presentation, he speculates on the answers to these questions by using the music of Steve Reich and West African drumming as starting points in his quest.

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