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beat


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1 Unit of measurement of rhythmic pulse of mus. (i.e. waltz has 3 beats to the measure), as indicated in time signature. In 4/4 time each quarter‐note (crotchet) is one beat, but in more complicated signatures much depends on the tempo selected. E.g. in 12/8 time there are 12 beats to a measure if taken very slowly, or else one for each dotted crotchet.

2 The cond.'s action corresponding to the required rhythmic pulse.

3 When 2 notes near to each other in vibration frequency are heard together their vibrations necessarily coincide at regular intervals and thus reinforce each other. This periodical reinforcement is known as a beat and is made use of in pf.‐tuning.

4 Name given variously to ornament in early mus., sometimes applied to a mordent and sometimes to acciaccatura. Still other references imply a ‘reversed shake’ by this term.

5 Term in jazz, basically meaning the rhythmical pulse of the mus., but also meaning jazz in a generic sense, e.g. ‘the beat is black’ = Negro jazz.

Subjects: Music.


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