poly·​rhythm | \ ˈpä-lē-ˌri-t͟həm How to pronounce polyrhythm (audio) \

Definition of polyrhythm

: the simultaneous combination of contrasting rhythms in music

Other Words from polyrhythm

polyrhythmic \ ˌpä-​lē-​ˈrit͟h-​mik How to pronounce polyrhythm (audio) \ adjective
polyrhythmically \ ˌpä-​lē-​ˈrit͟h-​mi-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce polyrhythm (audio) \ adverb

Examples of polyrhythm in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web 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 Like juju, the style popularized by King Sunny Adé, fuji was originally built upon an embarrassment of pulsing polyrhythms shaped on kit drums, congas, bells, shakers, and talking drums, without much else beyond hectoring call-and-response singing. Peter Margasak, Chicago Reader, 5 July 2018

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.

See More

First Known Use of polyrhythm

1908, in the meaning defined above

Learn More About polyrhythm

Time Traveler for polyrhythm

Time Traveler

The first known use of polyrhythm was in 1908

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near polyrhythm




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for polyrhythm

Cite this Entry

“Polyrhythm.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/polyrhythm. Accessed 7 Dec. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More from Merriam-Webster on polyrhythm

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about polyrhythm


Test Your Vocabulary

Difficult Spelling Words Quiz

  • alphabet pasta spelling help
  • Which is the correct spelling?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!