poly·​rhythm ˈpä-lē-ˌri-t͟həm How to pronounce polyrhythm (audio)
: the simultaneous combination of contrasting rhythms in music
polyrhythmic adjective
polyrhythmically adverb

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web After his lessons with Smith, Naqvi was best known as the drummer from Dawn of Midi, a mesmerizing trio that approached polyrhythm with a thrilling, almost scientific tenacity. Chris Richards, Washington Post, 20 Dec. 2022 The instrumental rockers still pack a punch through core musical ingredients, including electric guitar, bass, drums and saxophone, to produce otherworldly polyrhythms. Washington Post, 12 Mar. 2020 What hasn’t changed is the group’s penchant for Caribbean polyrhythms, Afrobeats and Latin-American melodies. John Ochoa, Billboard, 23 Sep. 2019 Backed by funky polyrhythms from Dyson’s sticks, saxophonist Khari Lee blew a serpentine alto solo. Dan Emerson, Twin Cities, 16 Oct. 2019 But Ode was again a wild card, working yet another polyrhythm of such power that even as Croker was playing beautiful, vibratoless romances, the drummer’s back-line improvisation was more interesting. Michael J. West, Washington Post, 19 Sep. 2019 The interesting thing here is that the polyrhythms found in traditional music are fundamentally different than the general 4/4 beat of Western music. Katie Bain, Billboard, 12 Sep. 2019 There are more layers of vocal melody, more percussion, more polyrhythm, more direct connections to the guitars and horns of African pop, more languages among the lyrics and, of course, enormous soul and annunciatory power in Ms. Kidjo’s voice. Jon Pareles, New York Times, 8 June 2018 But for her own productions, Ms. Borges mixes these childhood influences with polyrhythms, frantic beats, air horns and elements of genres like trance, European techno, Afro-house and American R&B. Her drums thwack like a bucking bronco. Kate Hutchinson, New York Times, 14 June 2018 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'polyrhythm.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

First Known Use

1908, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of polyrhythm was in 1908

Dictionary Entries Near polyrhythm

Cite this Entry

“Polyrhythm.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/polyrhythm. Accessed 25 Mar. 2023.

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