RELATED TERMS: Architecture; Filmmaking; Music; Lefebvre

A rhythm is a regular recurrence of a phenomenon, or a pattern of recurrence.

To grasp its value for narrative environment design, one example would be Henri Lefebvre’s rhythmanalysis, in which he proposes to analyse biological, psychological and social rhythms in order to demonstrate the interrelation of understandings of space and time in the comprehension of everyday life.

In filmmaking, rhythm is usually taken to mean the use of montage to create a ‘cutting rhythm’ in a sequence of shots. The term can also be applied to the rhythm of movement within a shot, and how this relates to the cutting rhythm. Stan Brakhage was a master of this. It is sometimes also used in relation to the macro structure of a film, but ‘pace’ is more often used in this context.

In music, rhythm is taken to mean the segmentation of time into musical articulation, achieved through beat, metre and accent. It can be applied from the micro (cellular r.) to the macro (structural r.) level.

Lefebvre, H. (2004). Rhythmanalysis: space, time and everyday life. London, UK: Continuum.

Rhythm in Architecture

Stuart Jones writes:

Notes towards a definition: Goethe was a smart guy but he said at least one very silly thing: “Architecture is frozen music”. Music is about movement (change) in time; if you freeze it you kill it. So. Rhythm is an articulation of time. Architecture is an articulation of space, so rhythm in architecture must be about a relationship between space and time, and how that becomes articulate. In order for space to be articulated in relation to time there must be movement (change). Since the thing that is most obviously moving in architecture is you, then the rhythm must be connected to something that you are doing. So I propose that it is the person who principally articulates the rhythm of the architecture, by moving over it with the eye or through it with the body. Of course this is a dance between the architect’s intention and the person’s perception.