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Asymmetrical & Compound Meter in Dance and Popular Music from the Late Romantic Era to Today

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Whitney George

on 4 January 2017

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Transcript of Asymmetrical & Compound Meter in Dance and Popular Music from the Late Romantic Era to Today

Asymmetrical & Compound Meter
in Dance & Popular Music
from the Late Romantic Era
to Today

The Elements of Rhythm
Rhythm
The Late Romantic Era
Johann Strauss, Jr. (1825-1899)
‘Blue Danube Waltz, Op. 314’ (1866)
Ostinato Forms using
Compound Meters

The Beatles
'A Taste of Honey' (1960)
the 1950s:
Golden Age of Musicals

Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990)
‘America’ from ‘West Wide Story’ (1957)
The 1980s
and Mixed Meter
Time Signature
Meter
Rhythm is strong, regular, repeated pattern of movement or sound.
The systematic arrangement of musical sounds, principally according to duration and periodic stress.
The time signature is a notational convention used in Western musical notation to specify how many beats are in each measure and which note value constitutes one beat. In a musical score, the time signature appears at the beginning of the piece, as a time symbol or stacked numerals.
Meter is a term that music has inherited from the rhythmic element of poetry where meter means the number of lines in a verse, the number of syllables in each line and the arrangement of those syllables as long or short, accented or unaccented. Hence it may also refer to the organization of music into regularly recurring measures or bars of stressed and unstressed "beats", indicated in Western music notation by a time signature and bar-lines.
Compound Meter is a metre in which each beat of the measure divides naturally into three equal parts, rather than two which gives a simple (duple) metre.
uses a technique called RUBATO which creates that ebb/flow & push/pull feel to the waltz rhythm
time signature is 3/4, but each measure is felt in ONE count, making the three equal subdivisions of quartet notes feel like a COMPOUND METER
is in 6/8 OR in 3/4- it depends on how you want to feel the stresses. Both are equally present, which is a very interesting characteristic of the work
If you feel it in 6/8, you hear 6 equal pulses (not divded into two groups of three)
If you feel 3/4, you hear those 6 pulses, but you feel them in three groups of two
alternates every measure between a feeling of 3/4 and 6/8
each MEASURE takes up the same duration. It’s the FEELING of THREE versus TWO that is constantly in flux.
is generally in a 3/4, waltz meter
at the beginning and end, mixes in the occasional bar of 4/4 after 3 bars of 3/4, adding to the somewhat 'off' metric feel of the work
1970s:
Progressive Rock

Pink Floyd
‘Money’ (1973)
also in an ASYMMETRICAL meter of 7/8, where there are 7 eighth notes in each measure, and the 8th note gets the pulse.
it’s divided into a 3 + 4 (or 3 + 2 + 2) feel through the song
20th Century
Concert Music

Astor Piazzolla (1921-1992)
‘Libertango’ (1974)
Music of Today
Mixing Meters

The Roots
Ital (Universal Edition) (2011)
the grove/ostinato is a 4 bar structure.
the first 3 bars are in a standard 4/4 meter
what would be the 4th bar is a bar of 3/4, and then the ostinato returns
Playing with '5'

Dave Brubeck Quartet
'Take 5' (1959)
in a very unconventional 5/4 time signature where there are 5 quarter notes in each measure, and the quarter note gets the pulse
is a FAST tempo, as the BBMs (beats per minute) elapse at a fast rate
the larger grouping feels like a LOPSIDED '2', where one side is heavier (3) and the other is lighter (2)
Asymmetrical meter - When the meter doesn’t divide equally into groups of two or three (example, 5 or 7)
The Stranglers
'Golden Brown' (1981)
Broken Social Scene
Shoreline (2005)
the grove/ostinato is mainly made up of one-bar sections, where there are 7 beats per measure (making the time signature 7/4)
rhythmic pulse is ASYMMETRICAL, where the groupings are 3 + 3 + 2, which is a typical TANGO rhythm
even those the pulse is asymmetrical, tango rhythms are notated in 4/4 (or 8/8, as there are eight 8th notes in each measure)
The National
Fake Empire (2008)
the meter at the start of the piece is in 4/4, with a polymeric feel, as there is a strong presence of “3” also dividing the same space as 4, which is something we call 4 against 3
this “3” feeling at the beginning becomes the basis for the contrasting section of the piece, which conforms to a 3/4 meter.
the 1960s:
Movie Music

Lalo Schifrin
‘Theme from Mission Impossible’ (1966)
consistently in 5/4—the "groove" is constant
the 1960s:
Movie Music

Dionne Warwick
‘Say a Little Prayer for You’ (1966)
10/4 for verses
11/4 for chorus
2000s:
Mixing Genres

OutKast
‘Hey Ya’ (2003)
Emulates 11/4
Uses a cadential six-measure phrase consisting of three 4/4 measures, a 2/4 measure, and two 4/4 measures
2000s:
Mixing Genres

RadioHead
‘Morning Bell’ (2003)
In 5/4 meter, which stays consistent throughout
The Beatles
'Oh! Darling'
is in 12/8 or compound meter
MINI QUIZ!
Decide the time signature!
Full transcript