A rhythm pattern is a short sequence of accented and unaccented beats.
The simplest pattern is a drum rudiment. Syncopation accents a beat that is normally unaccented, and swing is an example of a syncopated rhythm. A composite rhythm is made up of two or more shorter rhythms whilst a complex rhythm is one that is not duple, triple or quadruple meter. Polyrhythm consists of two or more simultaneous and different rhythms. Free rhythm is, literally, free, unmetered rhythm with a variable tempo.
Every pattern can be played at a different tempo. The timbre of any pattern can be changed by orchestrating the percussion differently. A pattern can be looped, repeated, as often as necessary to provide the rhythm for an entire piece of music.