Playing Rhythm

  • Brigid M. CostelloEmail author
Part of the Springer Series on Cultural Computing book series (SSCC)


When a musician blows a trumpet, a dancer improvises to a soundscape or a videogame player controls a character’s movement, rhythms are being played. There are two practices of playing rhythm involved in these examples. There is the playing of a rhythm, that is, playing as a performance that keeps time to a beat or score. Then there is playing with rhythm, the creative playfulness of an improvised performance. Each practice will involve different rhythmic skills and embodied pleasures. Both types of play are involved in the choreography and improvisational dance practice of acclaimed dance artist Nalina Wait. Her interview gives us valuable insights into practical methods for improvising with rhythm and discusses the pleasures that physical performance can evoke for both performer and audience. These insights from the world of dance are valuable for interaction designers. Dance or music are often used as metaphors for the playing of and with rhythm during human computer interactions. Making a metaphorical connection between digital interaction and physical rhythmic performance might be easily done for games with their varied controllers, common focus on sequenced timing skills and consequently vigorous physicality. However, these metaphors of performative play can also apply to many other types of rhythmic human computer interaction. For instance, many interactive technologies will involve rhythms whose beat and timing we must learn to perform and keep in time with. Many will also involve occasions (whether intentional or unintentional and whether functionally impactful or not) where we might play and improvise with the rhythms of these interactions. And both these types of rhythmic performance will contribute to the pleasures of our user experience. This chapter focuses on all three aspects of rhythmic performance keeping time, playfulness and improvisation, and the pleasures of performance.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of the Arts and MediaThe University of New South WalesSydneyAustralia

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