• I can't say it's "really good," but Joseph Schillinger--a Russian music theorist, pedagogue, and composition teacher to George Gershwin and a host of other talented American Broadway, Big Band, and movie composers--wrote a fairly provocative two-volume set entitled The Schillinger System of Musical Composition, which begins with a theory of rhythm. He also wrote The Mathematical Basis of the Arts and several companion reference works which serve as compendiums of rhythms, chords, etc. His books are now out of print, but can be obtained through your local college library through Interlibrary Loan if they are not available as part of the library's regular collection. I tried to read through his books for a directed study project in college and found them to be poorly written. However, his theories, once understood, have led to very fruitful composition. Porgy and Bess was composed using Schillinger's theories as was Glenn Miller's Moonlight Serenade and many other compositions by Schillinger's students which have become staples of early 20th Century American music. In my opinoin the best way to access Schillinger's arcane theories is to study with someone who has mastered them and can translate them into simpler terms. I studied online with Jeremy Arden, who offers online correspondence courses in Schillinger theory at reasonable prices. I found them helpful studies that directly impacted my compositional technique. You can visit his website at the following address.


    Best wishes,




  • "The Mathematical Basis of the Arts," is a fascinating book, and I enjoyed owning it for a time. I didn't find his ideas on "scaling" intervals practical for me, personally, but that doesn't mean that someone else won't appreciate them. I have had a great deal of success with unusual meter in my work, and I used to be self-conscious about it, until I began to study some of the rhythm theories of the Classical Music of India. One other area which has profoundly affected my writing, although not in ways that are readily apparent, is the Classical Drumming music of Africa, particularly of East Africa.
  • Hi, I don't know if this is the kind of thing you were thinking of:

    It's an article by Steve Vai, covering some interesting rhythmic concepts.

    I have a book by William Russo (a jazz composer) called Composing and Arranging for Jazz Orchestra which

    has got a good chapter on rhythm, amonst other things. I think it is still in print- I got mine from amazon.



  • Haha...nice article by Steve Vai, Will, with some interesting "wrinkles" that were new to me. 


  • Check out  "The Gateway to Rhythm" a video by guitarist John McLaughlin and Selva Ganesh. It has some great introductory and intermediate  lessons on Konokol, If you are not familiar with Konokol it is the ancient South Indian art of performing percussion syllables vocally. This approach sounds very fresh to me in western music. It's a great way to free us from the tyranny of the barline. Also check out the player piano  music of Conlon Nancarrow. 

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