Time & Rhythm: Pulse & Meter

The concept and experience of a steady, repeating Pulse… akin to your heartbeat, might be considered the most basic dimension of musical time. The next dimension, Meter, is the concept and experience of organizing pulses in a hierarchical manner so that each pulse is different from the other.  

First, listen to a steady drumbeat of undifferentiated pulses (Let’s call this ONE-ness)…

Now let’s differentiate the pulses from each other by emphasizing one over the others in various groupings…

TWO-ness…

THREE-ness…

FOUR-ness… 

FIVE-ness…

SIX-ness… 

and notice how the difference in emphasis organizes our listening and expectations.

By the way, we can continue with SEVEN-ness and EIGHT-ness and NINE-ness and so on.

We could also combine these “nesses” by nesting them inside each other. For example, we could play a THREE-ness inside a TWO-ness to make a more complex SIX-ness.  Listen to a recognizable example (Tarantella):

We can also combine these “nesses” by linking them together. For example, we could link a THREE-ness with a TWO-ness to make a more complex FIVE-ness. As in this famous example:

The Big Lesson here is this: Meter is the concept and experience of sequences of pulses that are organized in a way that creates a more complex framework upon which sounds can be placed in time. That said, it is appropriate to think of each kind of meter as a kind of dance.

About Frank J Peter

A uniquely burdened and blessed citizen of the world thinking and acting out loud!
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2 Responses to Time & Rhythm: Pulse & Meter

  1. paula graham says:

    oh yea, how interesting and really, when you think about it…how obvious. Music seems to follow logical patterns…at least at this stage!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. YES! Patterns, patterns, patterns! : )

    Like

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