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Continuations occur in relation to a prior beginning; anacruses point forward to a subsequent beginning. For example, the eighth note from the dulcimer rhythm in Figure 2. This relationship is illustrated with the symbols above the rhythms in Figure 2. In this particular analysis, the extended anacrusis lengthens the duration between the continuation in m. The rit. This is especially important for the singer-songwriter repertoire, which frequently demonstrates these kinds of flexible, and sometimes perceptually equivalent durations. When tempos accelerate across two durations, we can feel the decreasing time span between beginnings.

In case 4 , the new beginning, c, is heard to interrupt the previous projection, rather than accelerate a previous projection. In many such cases, the duration between b and c is heard as a new projected duration, shown in the figure as R. The final row illustrates the symbols used when a duration fails to become projective. This occurs as a result of the event a not being followed by event b, thereby being unrealized as a projective duration. I show this using a question mark above the solid arrow. Foremost on this 71 Hasty uses the term rallentando for decreasing tempos, however my preference, ritardando, will be used throughout this dissertation.

For example, see Hasty, Meter as Rhythm, Like Butterfield's, the present study examines the timing of metric projections in milliseconds.

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These seemingly meterless time spans are a distinctive feature of the singer-songwriter repertoire that is the focus of this dissertation. In these passages, attending to the syllabic and accentual structure of the lyrics may guide the listener towards hearing grid or processive meter. In order to understand prosodic stress in the lyrics, it will benefit us to investigate theories of prosody and poetic meter and studies that apply these theories to song.

He states, Meter — whether in music or poetry — is a way of organizing rhythm that gives it special regularity and strength…Every rhythm involves a sequence of energy pulses, of peaks and falls, but as we have seen, when a certain level of regularity and patterning of movement is achieved, the strong pulses become beats. Beats in turn reinforce the rhythm, marshaling the elements into clearly defined and measureable sequences. The poetic analogs are stresses, the fundamental elements of poetic organization.

In strict poetic meter, each foot the basic metrical unit typically contains two or three syllables, at least one of which will be stressed. Stressed syllables have metrical accent when they receive more emphasis that surrounding stressed syllables. Furthermore, the lyrics exist primarily as part of the musical setting — though some published lyric volumes are available — and readings of poetic meter would, for those familiar with the recordings, be influenced by dynamic accents in voice and accompaniment.

Throughout this study, we will consider stress patterns of song lyrics independent of the performance only as a step in the comparison of these stresses with those in the musical setting.

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To scan lyrical stress patterns, we may draw from additional studies of poetic meter to build a scansion procedure for the singer-songwriter repertoire. The grid provided in Figure 2. In polysyllabic words, the mark is placed on the strongest syllable s , referred to as the main stress and, if present, secondary stress. Other readings of the prosodic structure outside of the performance are possible, but this interpretation most closely matches the performed dynamic stresses of the vocal line in the Clancy Brothers recording. Unauthorized recordings and videos of both performances can be found online.

We find this sort of irregularity occurring in the scansion of other singer-songwriter lyrics. The solution offered throughout this dissertation is to scan for an alternation of lexical corresponding most often to a line 1 scan and phonological phrase most often aligning with line 2 stresses stresses without requiring a perfectly regular hierarchy, but informed by phenomenal accents in performance, and an awareness of speech pronunciation.

Any irregularities in prosodic structure or musical meter would be an important discussion point in analysis. When vocal stresses occur on un-stressed lyrical syllables it is often used to emphasize particular words in the lyrical narrative. For ease of comparison, I rounded each IOI value to the nearest 10 ms. This kind of hearing asks the listener to attend to different streams to maximize durational reproduction.

Beginning and continuation symbols indicate the projective function and hierarchy of these stresses.

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In looser poetic forms, or speech-like lyrics, scansion involves locating the stressed syllables and relatively more stressed syllables of each line of text, rather than analyzing poetic feet. Architectonic theories explain how listeners orient to a fully realized structure of multiple levels of periodically reinforced beats, in addition to explaining the hierarchal nature of that structure, the accuracy with which listeners measure timings, and how listeners are affected by the perceptual constraints on their ability to entrain to those levels.

But according to theories of meter as process, measurement can and does happen over shorter timespans without such a hierarchical grid; to hear meter is to evaluate how to set up, support, or modify the immediate reproduction of duration. Theories of textual prosody, while not typically concerned with measuring and comparing durations, also treat successions of sounds as stress patterns. Prosody provides an additional input for meter analysis that helps to account for different types of measuring in a single repertoire. In order to sense meter of whatever kind and strength, listeners attend to four aspects of the song.

In one mode of attending they notice stress, the markings of particular moments for attention by any kind of phenomenal accents: musically through durational, dynamic or contour accents, motivic repetition, harmonic change, melodic contour, etc. In sparse musical textures, changes of harmony are particularly salient markers of stress, often coordinating with prosodic stresses to indicate hyperbeats or hyperdownbeats. Parallel grouping structures reinforce stress patterns between repeated groups, and non-parallel grouping structures create ambiguous or noteworthy unexpected stresses or interactions.

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Secondly, on the basis of this primary mode of stress attention, listeners may attend to patterns of stress, or to durations between stresses, to the limits of perception. This type of measuring is active whether or not the potential is realized and involves a distinction between the functions of beginnings, some dominant and some continuative.

The third aspect of meter is operative to the extent that durational projections are realized. If two or more consecutive durations are heard as equal, the listener can typically entrain to a beat layer containing three or more beats. The fourth mode of attending is that in which the listener groups isochronous pulses into strong and weak beats that are transformed into a hierarchy when the strong beats in the groups themselves emerge as a hierarchically higher isochronous layer.

As the number of perceptible beat layers increases, the hierarchy is more fully formed and reinforced above and below a perceptible tactus. The table in Figure 2. London, Hearing in Time, Since, as explained above, there is no pulse, this passage only engages with the first two aspects of meter: stress and durational reproduction. By contrast, a pulse does arise during segments 5 and 6, the passage of which is included in Figure 2.

See Hasty, Meter as Rhythm, The faster layer in this meter aligns with the articulated eighth notes in the measures and the slowest layer spans whole-note durations. Sixteenth-note IOIs are too fast, and breve durations are too slow to entrain, so this metric hierarchy contains four layers, i. Though projection symbols have been used throughout Figure 2. To this reading of regular musical meter, we might also more closely examine the prosody of the lyrics of this line as conflicting with the musical meter. Retrospectively, these actions are latent from the beginning, always having the potential to be musically illustrated as a fully formed metric structure.

But if Mitchell timed her opening segments metrically, we would not get the evocative sense of marching into action that emerges in segment 6, and the rhetorical emphasis of the more metrically stable segments would be weakened. Such use of meter to express narrative content is a distinctive feature of the singer-songwriter compositions examined in this study. As exemplified by the brief analyses in this chapter, the analyst needs to be sensitive to all aspects of stress and timing, and understand the possibly layered meaning s of the text.

In order to properly illustrate these stresses in transcription, it is important to acknowledge the role of analysis in the act of transcribing, since it is possible to create multiple transcriptions of a song all based on different theories of meter.


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As we shall see in the subsequent chapter, transcriptions informed by various theories of meter can bring out different readings of musical meaning in analysis. In order to apply those theories in published analyses, it is necessary to represent each performance by musical transcriptions. For any one transcription, the transcriber must make analytical decisions, informed by a particular metric theory, about which components are essential.

But these decisions require the analyst to disregard other possible expressive aspects of meter that could be brought out by transcriptions informed by other theories of meter.

This studio recording demonstrates several metric features of the urban-folk repertoire that challenge representation in a single transcription. Fluctuations in timing make it difficult to choose a tactus. Whatever tactus is chosen, it must be heard to be grouped inconsistently, for example, with stretches of clear compound-quadruple meter gradually changing to compound triple. Other recordings of the song from live performances between and are entirely in compound-triple meter, or switch freely between compound-triple and compound-quadruple.


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  • Yet many of the aforementioned nuances, especially with regard to timing and accompaniment rhythms, apply only to the studio recording. A transcription focused on this particular recording would suggest engagement with different aspects of meter than on other tracks. By employing various transcription strategies, using various theories of meter, the different aspects of meter can be brought out, and their contribution to the meaning of the lyrics can be appreciated.

    For the singer-songwriter repertoire, sheet music and guitar tabs are popular types of notated transcriptions.

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    They are therefore unsuitable for the kind of metric analysis found in this study. Another type of inadequacy stems from the nature of available transcription formats. Transcribing keyboard accompaniment requires staff-based illustrations, which offer the opportunity for more accurate accounts of rhythm and meter than other options we will explore below. However, common-practice notation, despite some flexibility in the form of tempo markings and fermata symbols, assumes a regular and hierarchical meter, which cannot indicate realized projections very well.

    As we shall see, rhythmic accuracy varies in these kinds of transcriptions.