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

Examples of polyrhythm in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web In this way, Koenig most resembles Simon, whose music—including its deft (if ballsy) adoption of polyrhythms from sub-Saharan Africa—has always been a major touchstone for the band. Amanda Petrusich, The New Yorker, 1 Apr. 2024 Anton starts with rhythm guitar, and then my guitar melody comes in, and then Arthur’s texture of strings takes over that, and eventually, the bass and drums playing a polyrhythm against the rest of us. Liza Lentini, SPIN, 2 Feb. 2024 Still, Levant’s inability to play Gershwin’s basic syncopations and polyrhythms correctly didn’t stop him from selling many performances and recording of the piece. Ethan Iverson, New York Times, 26 Jan. 2024 Noise, protest, and polyrhythms remain alongside declarations of love and hope. Pitchfork, 14 Dec. 2023 Related How Tiffany 'New York' Pollard Changed the Game for Black Women on Reality TV Over the decades, Yoruba, Bantu, Fon, Kongo and other African musical influences introduced polyrhythm and collective gender participation to popular music. Damaly Gonzalez, Rolling Stone, 26 Oct. 2023 By the time mainstream radio was catching up to the nervy new wave of bands like the Talking Heads, frontman Byrne was pushing the group to incorporate African polyrhythms into their palette — several years before other rockers followed suit. Joe Lynch, Billboard, 5 Oct. 2023 Where there are polyrhythms and instrumental arrays that would make the Met’s collection sweat, percussionists Skidmore, Sean Connors, Robert Dillon and Peter Martin won’t be far behind. Hannah Edgar, Chicago Tribune, 3 May 2023 In contrast to the typical trap/Chicago drill beat, the hi-hats have moved from on-beat and triplet subdivisions to a steady 3+3+2 polyrhythm, that mainstay of Afro-diasporic music from dancehall to salsa — what some would call tresillo, or what reggaeton devotees know as dembow. Wayne Marshall, Vulture, 17 Aug. 2022

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'polyrhythm.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

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 20 Jul. 2024.

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