Discovering music through listening
Discovering music through listening

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Discovering music through listening

4.2 Rhythmic patterns and metre

Rhythm can characterise music in other ways, in addition to forming distinctive patterns of long and short notes. Rhythmic patterns might accentuate the pulse or metre, emphasising the natural stresses of the metre or disrupting them.

Activity 8

Listen to the two audio extracts and decide for each whether the rhythmic patterns sound with the metre or against it. Audio 4 has a metre with three beats, and Audio 12 has groupings of two beats and it may be helpful to know this information in advance.

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Audio 4: Howard Goodall, The Lord is my Shepherd, 00:39–01:09
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Audio 12: Buena Vista Social Club, Pueblo Nuevo, 04:19–04:49
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Discussion

Audio 4 could be largely characterised as rhythmically even (particularly the succession of shorter notes), and moving with the metre. However, sometimes the longer notes disrupted the metre, as these sounded on beat three and were held through beat one. This added stress to the third beat (normally unstressed in a three beat grouping), while dampening the natural stress of the first beat (normally stressed). This adds interest to the hymn, since the notes would otherwise move evenly with the metre.

A photograph of street musicians in Havana
Figure 9 Street musicians in Havana, Cuba

Audio 12 was characterised by the Latin rhythms of Cuban danzón. The rhythm of the music was uneven, and the musical notes often occurred off the beat, or syncopated, which characterised the music as exciting, unpredictable and with movement. The distinctive rhythmic pattern repeated in the accompaniment (most noticeably heard on the piano) enabled the music to be danced to, while the trumpet melody added to the syncopated rhythm, giving the music an edgy quality.

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