- Human Rhythm
- Aural Rhythm
Film is essentially musical, like any temporal art form. It’s all about incremental progressive effect of all the events that make up the flow. – Sheila Curran Bernard
a regularly repeated pattern of sounds or beats used in music, poems, and dances
Rhythm is also a regular movement
Rhythm is also a regular pattern of change
Rhythm (rɪðəm )
1. A rhythm is a regular series of sounds or movements.
2. A rhythm is a regular pattern of changes, for example changes in your body, in the seasons, or in the tides.
Thinking of rhythm, rhythm in music is what first comes in our mind. Maybe you think of a drummer playing a beat… But rhythm can be found in many different forms. From the definitions we already know that rhythm provides structures through patterns, are variable and changing and it is connected to movement and us as humans.
2. HUMAN RHYTHM
Where do we find rhythm in ourselves? If we are very quiet, we can hear our heartbeat. It can be slow when we are relaxed and fast when we are excited, but it is a constant faster pulse. Our body is rhythmic. Let us concentrate on our breath – breathing in and breathing out. This is a ongoing pattern. Moreover, there is rhythm in our voices, varying from person to person and to different situations.  Through rhythm we communicate sub messages. A straight reaction implicates certainty. A long pause before answering implies doubt or scepticism. In nature rhythm demonstrates in the “succession of day and night, lunar influences, the change of seasons”.
In film different rhythmic elements evoke suspense, build a structure, support understanding and create an experience. Visually as well as aurally a film works with repetitions, patterns, accents, pauses, tempo, time and pulses.
3. AURAL RHYTHM/ SONOROUS RHYTHM
Film music evokes emotions, and the tempo purports the speed and perception of time passing. Atmospheric sounds and noises of the surroundings help to immerse in a film. The ringing of church bells or an alarm bell, barking of dogs, or the monotonous ton of rain, all small audio details play their own role.
Jacob Bricca explains for example how he included a sound of typing:
“I used the same strategy in my film Finding Tatanka, taking scans of typewritten letters and notes from my father and turning them into living, breathing documents via Jonathan Swartz’s animation. This gave us license to add rhythm to the typing (spurting out particular sentences and phrases together while pausing elsewhere for effect) and to make the audience feel as if they were present for the moment of its creation.”
Through the power of editing rhythm gets “reinforced” so objects which “tend to have no inherent rhythm of their own” are given a “desired tempo and rhythm of presentation”. Karel Reisz names as an example a scene from Merchant Seamen where a calm ocean through rhythmic beat suddenly is “placed in a sequence of great speed and excitement”.
Danijela Kulezic-Wilson regains the Principles of Gestalt Principle within rhythm as both use a repetition and grouping.  In music there is a “repetition of aural stimuli“ processed with similarity and proximity.
“.. grouping on all architectonic levels is a product of similarity and difference, proximity and separation of the sounds perceived by the senses and organized by the mind …In general, sounds or groups of sounds which are similar (in timbre, volume, etc.) and near to each other (in time, pitch, etc.) form strongly unified rhythmic patterns. Difference and distance between sounds or groups of sounds tend to separate rhythmic patterns. However, though similarity tends to create cohesion, repetition usually makes for the separation of groups.”
The aural rhythm has a huge impact on the perception of the audience as audio signals are perceived much faster. In comparison to visual cutted patterns, music pervades the spectator even faster. As Widgery says that “music rhythm, ‘particularly that with a steady pulse, arguably has a more immediate and visceral kinetic impact than the rhythm of cutting itself’”.
But how do we perceive rhythm in music?
“The process of organizing separate sounds mentally into structural patterns is influenced by various aspects of music which, as well as duration, also include pitch, intensity, timbre, texture and harmony, although rarely at the same time.”
Rhythm provides the spectator with a “sense of temporality”. Jean Mitry compares silent films to sound film and realizes that “a real feeling of duration, of time passing” is only provided by “rhythmic beat to enable the audience to measure internally the psychological time of the drama, relating it to the basic sensation of real time”. 
The beat helps the audience to be in the same time experience as the character within the film. Rhythm allows to stick to a measurement of time within a film: “The time experienced by the characters in the drama, the relationship in time between shots or sequences, may be perfectly well recognized -but it is understood, not experienced”.
 Bernard, Sheila Curran: Documentary Storytelling. Creative Nonfiction on Screen, 3rd edition,Burlington, USA, Oxford, UK: Focal Press, 2011, p.260
 https://dictionary.cambridge.org/de/worterbuch/englisch/rhythm [02.05.2021]
 https://www.collinsdictionary.com/de/worterbuch/englisch/rhythm [02.05.2021]
 Vgl. Kulezic-Wilson, Danijela: The Musicality of Narrative Film, Hampshire, England: Palgrave Studies in Audio-Visual Culture, 2015, p.37
 Rabiger, Michael; Hermann, Courtney: Directing The Documentary, 7th edition, Oxon, New York: Routlege, 2020, p. 87
 Kulezic-Wilson, 2015, p.37
 Bricca, Jacob: Documentary Editing. Principles & Practice, New York: Routledge, 2018,p. 156
 Reisz, 2010,136
 Reisz, 2010,136
 Vgl. Kulezic-Wilson, 2015, p.41
 Kulezic-Wilson, 2015, p42 refering to : Widgery, C. J. (1990) ‘The Kinetic and Temporal Interaction of Music and Film: Three Documentaries of 1930’s America’, unpublished Ph.D. diss. (University of Maryland College Park, UMI order no. 9121449).
 Kulezic-Wilson, 2015, p. 42 refering to Mitry, Jean (2000) Semiotics and the Analysis of Film, trans. C. King (London: Athlone Press), p.143
 Kulezic-Wilson, 2015, p. 39
 Mitry, Jean (1997) The Aesthetics and Psychology of the Cinema, trans. C. King (Bloomington: Indiana University Press), p.248
 Mitry, 1997, p.248