Let This Percussionist Blow Your Mind With The Fibonacci Sequence

Aug 10, 2018
Originally published on August 13, 2018 3:57 pm

Updated: August 13, 3:10 p.m. ET.

Rhythm nerd alert! Bow down, drummers! Our social feeds have been on fire with a mind-bending, gasp-worthy video posted by percuss.io earlier this week — below — made by the accomplished Indian percussionist B.C. Manjunath. He's a master of konnakol -- the Carnatic, or South Indian, art of speaking percussive syllables in rapid-fire, intricate patterns to convey a larger thalam, or rhythmic cycle.

But here, B.C. Manjunath isn't using any old thalam for his whirl of konnakol — in an inspired stroke, he is using a Fibonacci sequence gorgeously, to take off into a dazzling, awe-inducing rhythmic fantasy.

(Math refresher! A Fibonacci sequence is a series of numbers in which each number is the sum of the two preceding numbers. Here, he uses the simple pattern of 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13 and 21. That is: 1 + 1 = 2; 2+1 = 3; 3 + 2 = 5; 5 +3 = 8; 8 + 5 = 13; 13 + 8 = 21. Got it? Good.)

So, in B.C. Manjunath's thalam, each of those Fibonacci segments makes up part of a larger rhythmic cycle. (You can get a closer look at what he's doing and follow along here, thanks to percuss.io's transcription and animation.) The result ... well, just hold on to your seat, and watch the whole video. It will make your day.

And if you can't get enough of Carnatic music and the Fibonacci numbers, check out this other mathematically inspired performance from composer and singer — and scientist — Venkata S. Viraraghavan, violinist Muruganandan Vasudevan and mridangam (drum) player Jagadeesh Janardhanan. It's a song in praise, appropriately enough, of the Hindu goddess Saraswati — the deity of both music and learning.

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