Scientists Discover Advanced Mathematics in Drumming

It’s pretty obvious that drummers need to be able to count to keep the beat in a song.  Whether the song is in 4/4, 6/8, or 3/4, drummers need an innate sense of numbers to be able to keep a song “on the tracks” (as the saying goes).

Scientists have discovered that the world’s best drummers also use extremely high-level mathematics in their drum patterns:  Fractals.  Below are some examples of Fractals.  It’s an image with “self-similarity” — where any small part of the image looks like the entire image.


Scientists analyzed the drum patterns of one Jeff Porcaro, a member of the band Toto but also known for his work in the studio playing for a variety of artists.  They discovered that Porcaro’s hi-hat rhythms had a self-similarity to them as well — the emphasized beats on the hi-hats had the same pattern in short stretches of the song as they did in longer stretches — Audio Fractals, if you will.

Check out the article here:

BADGING:  Read the above article.  Then listen to the song that the scientists studied.  (embedded above) Pay close attention to the hi-hat pattern that the drummer continues throughout the song.  Write a paragraph hypothesizing why a talented drummer might default to a fractal pattern in his drumming.  Do you think it’s a conscious decision by the drummer (“on purpose”) or something happening sub-consciously (“can’t help it”)?  Write a second paragraph explaining some of the other fractal patterns that scientists are surprised to have found in humans (from the article).

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