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I keep reading online that the drop to Flume’s song "Helix" is polyrhythmic; however, I am unable to hear it. Is there polyrhythm, and if so, what is the pattern?

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  • Welcome to Music, please take the tour and consider embedding links to the articles you're reading online and to the piece you're asking about so that others don't have to go hunting after it. – dissemin8or Feb 25 '20 at 15:25
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There's a couple of things happening there:

  • When the arpeggiated chord pattern starts around 1:35 it uses a compound meter of 6 6 4 groupings and starts speading up.
  • Around 2:06 a second beat appears that is not in sync which could count as a second rhythmic pattern but it is not marking a specific meter since it's just a constant beat.
  • Finally around 2:35 when the drums start they use a regular 4/4 meter vs the original 6 6 4 meter used. There is your polyrhythm.

Proportional numbers may be used but I find it easier to count it that way. Interesting piece!

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There are three drops in the song.

The first begins at 1:32. It is characterized by groups of 32 isochronal (equally spaced) pulses. Within each group of 32, there are irregular divisions. Each division begins with a low pitch, then rises unidirectionally to a topmost pitch. The low pitch has the effect of a downbeat, marking the beginning of each metric group, but the groups themselves contain varying numbers of pulses, making the higher-level metrical structure non-isochronal.

For example, the first group of 32 is divided 12:12:8; whereas, the second group is divided 13:13:6. The third group is 14:14:4, and the fourth is 14:13:5.

There is a second drop at 2:05. The pitched pulses from the first drop continue, now joined by unpitched, undifferentiated (no accents), isochronal pulses. The unpitched pulses always correspond to four pitched pulses. So, this is not polyrhythmic, but it is polymetric. Since the unpitched pulses tend to fall in different places relative to the high-level irregular meter of the pitched pulses, they are perceived as being out of sync metrically with the pitched pulses.

The third drop occurs at 2:32. In this case both metrical patterns are irregular, and they are clearly heard as separate. They also occur "out of sync" with each other (unlike drop 2, where the pulses are always together). This is polyrhythmic and polymetric.

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