Rhythm is the core of African American music. In addition to the rhythmic groupings of sounds, which can be notated, rhythm also involves phrasing or interpretation of these sounds. Phrasing includes both accentuation and sensitive control of the structure and shape of the music in order to create a specific rhythmic tension.

There are two main groups of phrasing:

1) Even 8s: the subdivisions of the main beat (often quavers/eighth notes) are performed as notated, in other words, with equal durations.

2) Triplet feel or jazz phrasing: the subdivisions of the main beat are performed with unequal durations using a ratio of 2:1.

This chapter on rhythm concentrates on the triplet feel type of phrasing.