The Systems of Rhythm

Rhythm - Units and Ahkreanvention

The music I have written since 1970 represents two types of systems that I have utilized in my music; the systems of rhythm - units and ahkreanvention. The rhythm unit concept is one that accepts a single sound or rhythm, a series of rhythm - sound, or a grouping of more than one series of sound rhythm as a complete piece of music and thus need not be so- called developed further to be appreciated as a whole fresh realized work or piece, IMPROVISATION. The correct understanding of each unit is: the value given to an audible unit is followed by the relative equivalence of silence. "Divine Love" and "Spirituals: The Language Of Love" are good representations of the rhythm unit concept.

Since 1971 I have been concerned with creating alternatives for a world music, one which utilizes the fundamental laws of improvisation and composition while retaining a uniqueness of its own. I began to design a notation system for scoring sound, rhythm and silence, or for scoring improvisation, a technique I term ahkreanvention. Ahkreanvention literally means to create and invent musical ideas simultaneously, utilizing the fundamental laws of improvisation and composition, Within this system, all of the elements of the scored music are controlled through symbols designating duration, improvisation, and moving sounds of different velocities. These symbols are depicted on two types of staffs sound staffs divided into low, medium and high, and sound staffs of adjustable sound partials. Since this system was designed, all of the music I have worked on has dealt with the philosophical and technical attitude upon which it is based. "Tastalun" is an ahkreanvention piece scored for three muted trumpets, and it represents my experimentation with this system of notation. In prior years I have been able to record solo ahkreanvention pieces, but this was the first time I have recorded an ensemble ahkreanvention piece. My purpose and mission as a creative musician is to bring about an understanding and appreciation for all the instruments found throughout the world and to advance the concept of equality of both the instruments and their creators in the world arena.


Leo Smith
, 9.23.78

© 1997-2011 Ishmael Wadada Leo Smith