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This article is related to my video about polyrhythms. If you’ve not seen it yet, check it out here: YOUTUBELINK.

As I mentionned in the video, polyrhythms are a multiple rhythms playing at the same time but sounding quite unrelated to one another.

At the opposite, we have polymeters. A polymeter is two or more groups of notes playing together, but following a unique pattern. For example, if you play 16th notes like this:


and at the same time, another instrument plays this pattern:


Then this is a polymeter, not a polyrhythm. It seems a few people are mistaken about the topic, so now you know!

As for cross-rhythms (thank you Wikipedia, I had no idea those existed), it is a form of polyrhythm that structures a whole piece or song, instead of just being a part of it. It is mainly used in world music; I personnally can’t think of a song using them right now. But I guess I’ll have to listen to all of my CDs again just to be sure.

Examples of songs containing polymeters:

Frame by frame by King Crimson

Weird Fishes by Radiohead

Black Dog by Led Zeppelin

With the Love in My Heart by Jacob Collier

Touch and Go by The Cars