I. Fundamentals

Other Rhythmic Essentials

Bryn Hughes, Mark Gotham, and Chelsey Hamm

Key Takeaways

  • A is a type of in which a beat (or subdivision, or multiple beats) in simple meter is divided into three parts. Notate a triplet by writing a “3” above the appropriate rhythm.
  • A is a tuplet in which a beat (or subdivision) in compound meter is divided into two parts. Notate a duplet by writing a “2” above the appropriate rhythm.
  • refers to the patterns of accentuation at the metrical level. are placed above measures (centered) to demark these patterns of accentuation.
  • happens when there are rhythmic accents, which can be created by ties, dots, rests, and/or dynamics.

Borrowed Divisions

Typically, a meter is defined by the presence of a consistent beat division: division by two in simple meter, and by three in compound meter. Occasionally, composers will use a triple division of the beat in a simple meter, or a duple division of the beat in a compound meter. , are a type of in which a beat (or subdivision, or multiple beats) in simple meter is divided into three parts. Triplets are sometimes thought of as “borrowed” from compound meter, because the beat in compound meter is usually divided into three parts.A triplet is notated by writing the number “3” on top of an appropriate rhythm, as seen in Example 1.

A triplet rhythm is notated by writing a "3" on top of the correct rhythm
Example 1. Notate a triplet by writing a “3” on top of the rhythm.

Triplets may occur at both the beat division and subdivision levels, as seen below in the second measure of Example 2.

A triplet is shown at both the beat level (m. 1) and subdivision level (m. 2)
Example 2. A triplet at the subdivision level on the first beat of m. 2.

Triplets also may occur across multiple beats, as seen in Example 3.

A quarter note triplet in a 4/4 meter spans two beats
Example 3. A triplet which spans two beats.

A is a tuplet in which a beat (or subdivision) in compound meter is divided into two parts. Duplets are notated by writing the number “2” on top of an appropriate rhythm, as seen in Example 4.

Duplets are shown with the number "2" over them in 6/8 time
Example 4. Notate a duplet by writing a “2” on top of the rhythm.

Like triplets, duplets can occur at the subdivision level, as seen in Example 5.

A duplet at the subdivision level appears in a 6/8 time signature.
Example 5. A duplet at the subdivision level on the second beat.

Counting for these rhythms is usually “borrowed” as well. For example, triplets are usually counted 1-la-li, while duplets are usually counted 1-and, 2-and etc.

Meter Beyond Measure (Hypermeter)

We have seen that beats are either accented or non-accented, which was observed in the discussion of conducting patterns in the previous two chapters. Groups of measures can also form patterns of accentuation, especially at faster tempos. refers to these patterns of accentuation at the metrical level. In order to identify patterns of accentuation across multiple measures, we place above measures (centered). Example 6 shows an example, along with a recording:


Example 6. Eight measures of the “Scherzo” of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 (1824). Listen to a recording.

While listening to Example 6, try conducting along to the hypermetrical numbers, in a quadruple pattern. By doing this you will be able to feel (and hear) which measures are accented (1 and 3) and which are not (2 and 4).

Syncopation

Often rhythm and meter work together to create and reinforce a “grid” which you can feel by conducting along to a work. happens when there are rhythmic accents, which can be created by ties, dots, rests, and/or dynamics. Example 7 shows several different syncopated rhythms with proper counts:


Example 7. Different examples of syncopated rhythms.

In m. 1, the rhythm is syncopated due to ties, while in m. 2 it is syncopated because of both a dot and a tie. In m. 3 the rests create a sense of syncopation, while in m. 4 the syncopation is the result of dynamics (accents). See Chapter 78: Rhythm and Meter for more information about syncopation.

Online Resources

 

 

Assignments from the Internet
  1. Counting triplets
  2. Counting triplets, pp. 32–33
  3. Counting duplets, notation, and composition, p. 13
  4. Hypermetrical numbers, classical music
  5. Counting syncopation
  6. Counting syncopation
  7. Counting, identifying, and questions about syncopation
  8. Counting in 6/8 time with 16th notes and syncopation
Assignments
  • Triplets and Duplets, Hypermeter, Syncopation) (.pdf, .docx)

Media Attributions

  • Triplet Notation © Chelsey Hamm is licensed under a Public Domain license
  • Triplets Subdivision Level © Mark Gotham is licensed under a Public Domain license
  • Triplet Across Multiple Beats © Chelsey Hamm is licensed under a Public Domain license
  • Duplets © Mark Gotham is licensed under a Public Domain license
  • Compound Meter Subdivision Duplet © Chelsey Hamm is licensed under a Public Domain license

License

Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License

Open Music Theory by Bryn Hughes, Mark Gotham, and Chelsey Hamm is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

Share This Book