Rhythmic analysis of rap : what can we learn from ‘flow’?
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
This thesis provides a novel investigation into the rhythm of rap, using data from six local Christchurch rappers. The background focus was to provide a linguistically-informed description of the hip-hop term flow, in which rhythm plays a major role. Prior theories on characterising rhythm were discussed to determine what would be the most suitable method for the analysis of rap. The Pairwise Variability Index (PVI) algorithm seemed the most suitable candidate, that characterised rhythm by measuring durational variability. An auditory analysis was carried out first, where I attempt to describe the flow of each rapper based on my perceptions, and the relevant aspects discussed in the thesis. The PVI algorithm was then used, using a script run through Praat, to produce metrics for each of the rappers in my data. Stress and error counts were also manually quantified and stress percentage was calculated for each rapper. Overall PVI scores from the data were higher than prior measures of NZE speakers, though the setting and performance of acapella freestyle is quite different to data examined previously. With the nPVI scores showing many correlations to the auditory analysis, results seem promising. A larger-scale perceptual study would yield considerably more validity for this notion however.