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?:abstract
  • [1.1] Pop and rock music are frequently generalized as being in 4/4 meter throughout.(1) Like most generalizations, this is substantially true, but-also like most generalizations-on closer examination the reality proves to be more complicated. Numerous examples of rock songs that deviate from the 4/4 norm through asymmetrical or changing meters, either temporarily or on a large scale, are offered by Everett (2009a, 308-9), Rosenberg (2010, 64-69), Moore (2012, 66-68), and Stephens (2013). Recent studies have shown that listeners readily entrain to a regular meter and readily perceive disruptions of the metric hierarchy (Ladinig et al. 2009, Honing 2012, Fitch 2013). This study explores the functions of such disruptions, focusing on the interactions of metric dissonance with phrase structure and form in Anglophone rock music, with a bias toward classic and progressive rock, the repertoires I know best.(2) In the section that follows, I apply and adapt the model of grouping and displacement dissonances developed by Kaminsky (1989) and Krebs (1999) to rhythmic, metric, and hypermetric structural levels. The second section of the article offers a categorization scheme for metric dissonances in terms of their formal functions, demonstrating that they can serve on a small scale as initiating dissonances, links between sections, or cadential hemiolas, and on a large scale to help demarcate formal sections. The last section presents corpus studies of music by the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Tool, Radiohead, and 200 of Rolling Stone Magazine's "Top 500 Songs of All Time," and compares their different usages of metric dissonance by category and over time.Example 1. Temporal organization of pop-rock music[1.2] The temporal organization of music can be shown as a series of layers moving from subdivisions of the beat at the subtactus level, through the rhythmic or tactus level, the metric or bar level, to the hypermetric level and above, as shown in Example 1. Higher levels of organization are perceived as grouping structures rather than metric structures, although phrase and hypermeter occur at the same level and often coincide. This model subdivides Brower's (1993) paradigm of rhythmic organization into foreground (subtactus and tactus), middleground (meter and hypermeter) and background (larger units), which are governed by different kinds of memory. London describes metric entrainment at the lowest three levels and possibly at the hypermetric level (2012, 16-18). Because of the high degree of repetition, the short length of repeated units, and clear formal boundaries demarcated by changes in text, texture, and other parameters, structural patterns of larger units such as phrases and sections are generally more perceptually salient in vernacular music than in many forms of art music.[1.3] As numerous commentators have observed, the layers in this model of temporal organization do not all behave in precisely the same way, nor are they perceived in the same way.(3) Rhythmic dissonances, which do not normally disrupt the meter (Krebs's "submetrical dissonances"; 1999, 30), occur at the tactus level-in 4/4, the quarter-note beat-and below. Layers below the tactus typically include at least one level of subdivision that might be quadruple, duple, triple, or in-between-for example, straight 16th notes, straight 8th notes, triplet 8ths, or uneven pairs in a swing or shuffle rhythm (Krebs's "low-level dissonances"; 1999, 53).(4) Metric dissonances disrupt the bar and the conducting pattern, which is normally quadruple, sometimes duple or triple, or less commonly an additive combination of these. Metric dissonances in rock music typically play a syntactic role in articulating formal function, discussed in greater detail below, as well as an expressive role in heightening tension.(5) In maintaining a distinction between the rhythmic and metric layers, I am following Huron (2006), London (2012), and other cognitive theorists. … ()
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?:citationCount
  • 1 ()
is ?:cites of
?:cites
?:created
  • 2016-06-24 ()
?:creator
?:doi
  • 10.30535/mto.20.2.1 ()
?:estimatedCitationCount
  • 1 ()
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?:hasURL
?:issueIdentifier
  • 2 ()
?:language
  • en ()
?:publicationDate
  • 2014-07-01 ()
?:publisher
  • Society for Music Theory ()
?:rank
  • 21600 ()
?:referenceCount
  • 71 ()
?:title
  • Formal Functions of Metric Dissonance in Rock Music ()
?:type
?:volume
  • 20 ()

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