XI. Rhythm and Meter

Our textbook weaves rhythm and meter into other parts of the book, but in this part, we collect all rhythm and meter topics in one place for the instructor who would like to dedicate a course (or a portion of it) to rhythm and meter concepts as they are encountered across styles.


This section starts from the very beginning by cross-listing Fundamentals chapters related to rhythmand assumes no previous familiarity with rhythmic or metric concepts.


The chapters are organized as follows:

The first four chapters (Rhythmic and Rest Values, Simple Meter and Time Signatures, Compound Meter and Time Signatures, and Other Rhythmic Essentials) are cross-listed from Fundamentals and provide basic literacy in Western notation of rhythm. These chapters each build on one another, and are prerequisite knowledge for other chapters in the book.

The next two chapters are broader analytical concepts for understanding meter and rhythm: Hypermeter and Metrical Dissonance. Both chapters address a wide variety of repertoires.

The next chapters provide style-specific perspectives on rhythm: Swing Rhythms, Rhythm and Meter in Pop Music, Drumbeats, and Twentieth-Century Rhythmic Techniques. These chapters may be studied in isolation after completing the first four chapters.


The Anthology part of the textbook includes a dedicated Meter Anthology that sets out hundreds of examples of particular metrical techniques.



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OPEN MUSIC THEORY Copyright © 2023 by Mark Gotham; Kyle Gullings; Chelsey Hamm; Bryn Hughes; Brian Jarvis; Megan Lavengood; and John Peterson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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