The ÒPoumTchakÓ Pattern:


Correspondences Between Rhythm, Sound,

and Movement in Electronic Dance Music


PhD Thesis by Hans T Zeiner-Henriksen


Department of Musicology

Faculty of Humanities

University of Oslo








The twist and the turn, Part I

The twist and the turn, Part II

The poumtchak pattern

The project: choices, limitations and terminology

The music

The movements

The theory

The survey

The analyses

Music and body movements

Corporeality in music listening

Corporeality in the field of music psychology

Corporeality in ethnomusicology and popular music studies

Corporeality in music analysis

Outline of the thesis

The approach of the dance music producer




Chapter 1: Introduction to the cultural context of electronic dance music

The disco era of the 1970s

Discourse on disco

The origin of club culture

The approach of the disco DJ, part 1: the focus on the dancers

The approach of the disco DJ, part 2: the obscure tracks

The approach of the disco DJ, part 3: the focus on good sound

The approach of the disco DJ, part 4: the underground position

The end of the disco era

The 1980s continuation of dance music culture

(Paradise) Garage and (The Ware)house

American dance music in Britain

The ÒBelleville ThreeÓ and the rise of techno

Acid house, rave, and ecstasy

The dance music culture of the 1990s

Myriads of genres

The post-rave club scene

A presentation of two dance acts


Chapter 2: Dance music production and the development of music technology

Dance music production from the 1970s to the 1990s

The production of disco music

The remix and the twelve-inch

The production of Chicago house music

The acid house sound

Dance music production in the 1990s

The development of music technology during the 1980s and 1990s


Drum machines

MIDI: musical instrument digital interface


Digital samplers

Music technology and issues of authenticity




Chapter 3: The poumtchak pattern and body movement

 The poumtchak: a basic beat in electronic dance music......

A presentation of the poumtchak

  The effect of the poumtchak

 Examination of the poumtchak effect

The club remix

The music video

The poumtchak pattern in aerobics music

 Survey on the poumtchak pattern and body movement

Preliminary exploratory survey

Main survey: method

Main survey: results

Main survey: discussion

  Main survey: limitations and future research


Chapter 4: Theoretical contributions to the study of music and movement

Attention and perception

Affordances of the poumtchak pattern

  Entrainment and attentional energy

 Motor processes

Motor memory and perceptual learning

Motor activation

  Verticality in music




Chapter 5: Introduction to the analysis of rhythm

An approach to the study of rhythm


The activation of structural schemes

The metric perspective

The perception of the level of measure in electronic dance music

The beat level or sensation of pulse

The perception of subdivisions

Rhythm in the production of electronic dance music

A discussion of groove

The groove

Music grooves


Chapter 6: Analysis of rhythm in electronic dance music


The presentation of the analytical work

Example of the procedure in relation to one specific track

Elements of the basic beat

The backbeat

Anacruses (pick-ups) and the production of drive

Other elements in the production of drive

Faster pulse layers

The diminished (time) interval


Influences from earlier genres

Vertical movement in basslines

The fabric of rhythm

Complementary patterns

Counterrhythmic patterns

Microrhythm in electronic dance music




Chapter 7: Introduction to the analysis of sound

The complexity of sound

Notation versus sound

Qualities of musical sound

Sound, body movement, and the club environment

Methodological challenges for the study of sound

The use of the term ÒsoundÓ in musical contexts

Three types of sound events

The description of sound as timbre

The three domains of sound

The visual representation of sound


Chapter 8: Analysis of sound in electronic dance music

Analysis of the poumtchak sounds

The downbeat: pitch movements in bass drum sounds

The upbeat

The backbeat

Analysis of synthesizer sounds

Pitch movement in synthesizer sounds

Analysis of sound in effect processing

The gradual opening low-pass filter

Analysis of sound in the total mix





The cultural context, the basic beat, the rhythm, and the sound

Rhythm, sound, and cultural context

Relevance, limitations, and future research




Select discography




This study is part of the project ÒRhythm in the Age of Digital Reproduction,Ó led by professor Anne Danielsen, and co-funded by the Norwegian Research Council and the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Oslo.


Numerous people have supported and helped me in the completion of this study First and foremost, I will express my gratitude to my supervisor Anne Danielsen for her thorough critical reading, for many inspiring discussions, and a true interest in and support of my work.


Several persons at the Department of Musicology at the University of Oslo have read parts of my thesis and given me valuable feedback: Here I will like to thank Stan Hawkins, Alexander Refsum Jensenius, StŒle WikshŒland, Hallgjerd Aksnes, Tellef Kvifte and Mats Johansson. The two last mentioned have also participated in a research group affiliated with the project ÒRhythm in the Age of Digital Reproduction.Ó The other participants, Ragnhild Br¿vig-Hanssen, Eirik Asker¿i, Kristoffer Bjerke, Kristoffer Karlsen, and Kjetil Klette B¿hler, have also taken part in the many fruitful discussions on rhythm in music. Furthermore, I will like to thank Maria Witek and Anne-Britt Gran for helping me with my survey in chapter 3. At the Department of Musicology, I will also mention Rolf Inge God¿y for recommending literature and helping me with scientific terms, Eystein Sandvik for providing me with material on eighteenth century music listening, Mia Gšran and Odd SkŒrberg for several inspiring conversations, and the administration for support and assistance


Outside of the department, I will like to thank deejay/producer Gaute Drevdal for sharing his knowledge on dance music production, for giving me access to his huge collection of music magazines, and for pointing me to the French house music label Poumtchak I will also thank producers Ola Haampland, Kai Rob¿le, and Ulf Holand for discussing production techniques and deejay/producer/A&R Mike Pickering for sharing his experiences from the British dance music scene


Nils Nadeau, my copyeditor, has not only corrected errors and improved my English, but has asked several critical questions along the way He has also helped me with several English terms


Arnie Cox and Guy Madison have participated in discussions on related topics via e-mail, while Kai Fikentscher, Eric F Clarke, Serge Lacasse, Susan McClary, Simon Zagorski-Thomas, and Mark Butler have all, in relation to their visits to Oslo during these last three years, given me valuable feedback on my project 


I will also like to mention my friends Atle B¿ckman who introduced me to the club scene of Oslo in the early 1990s and has provided me with several albums and compilations that have been essential, and MD Morten Hagness who has participated in discussions of perceptual and cognitive processes


Last, but not least, I will express gratitude to my family: Kristin, for her fantastic support, and Kajsa, Julie, and Linnea for their inspiration