Metric Representations and Metric Well-Formedness

Justin London

in Hearing in Time

Second edition

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780199744374
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199949632 | DOI:
Metric Representations and Metric Well-Formedness

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The chapter begins with a survey of the range of representational schemes that have been developed for rhythm and meter. A cyclical, time-continuous representation for meter is then given. Rapid periodicities are marked on the outer rim of a circle, while slower periodicities (i.e., “higher” metrical levels) are drawn within it. Various notions of metric well-formedness are then considered. An initial set of well-formedness constraints is proposed, involving (a) limits on the fastest and slowest possible periodicities that may be metrically salient; (b) that all component periodicities be continuous and coordinated; and (c) that each metrical level must involve periodicities in the same temporal range. A particular organization of metrical cycles is a metrical type, which may be distinguished by the number of periodicities they involve (metric depth) and their interrelationships. The music-theoretic distinction between meter and hypermeter is subsumed under the notion of metrical type. Metrical types can further be distinguished by tempo.

Keywords: representations; metrical cycle; periodicities; metric well-formedness; tempo; metrical type; tempo-metrical type; hypermeter

Chapter.  7723 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Music Theory and Analysis

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