Time & Rhythm: Pulse & Meter

Posted by

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.

Advertisements

2 comments

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.