Dissertation Index



Author: Hudson, Stephen S.

Title: Feeling Beats and Experiencing Motion: A Construction-Based Theory of Meter

Institution: Northwestern University

Begun: May 2016

Completed: May 2019

Abstract:

Musical meter is often described as an objective grid-like system of time-points that is created by musical sounds. I define meter instead as any pattern of felt beats an individual listener chooses to hear, a physical and cognitive interpretation of the music that is (re-) created in the moment of listening. We construe meter through embodied metering practices: dance gestures, patterns of counting, or epistemologies of rhythmic motion. Many metering practices have conventional metering constructions, specific associations between sounding features, patterns of felt beats, and paths of motion through these beats. Drawing on concepts from cognitive science and performance studies, I explore how this embodied knowledge is constituted and applied in both planning of musical phrases by a performer, and in-time perception and cognition of musical rhythms by any listener or participant.

Metering constructions and practices are often performed by and associated with certain communities and identities. I take a culturally-situated approach to meter and felt motion, studying traditions of embodied movement and bodily discipline including headbanging in heavy metal (Chapter 1), characteristic dance rhythm topics in non-dance concert music of the eighteenth century (Chapter 2), motivic manipulation and developing variation in late Romantic chamber music (Chapters 3 and 4), and prosody and speech gestures in operatic recitative (Chapter 5). Contrary to many existing theories of meter, I argue that our feelings of beat are not necessarily organized in cyclical grids, but are improvised on the spot by stitching together familiar motions. I also explore how movements often embody and perform aesthetic ideologies and cultural meanings, with these hermeneutic frameworks often shaping listeners’ choice of movements, their proprioception of their own movements, and their perception of the qualities of rhythm and motion in the music they are listening to.

Keywords: Meter, Rhythm, Perception, Performance, Agency, Cognitive Linguistics, Embodied Cognition

TOC:

Introduction 12
Context: Theories of Meter . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
Moving Together: Entrainment and Coordination . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24
Theorizing Beats and Meter as Motions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29
Chapter Outlines . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33

1 Headbanging Beats and Metering Constructions 38
Headbanging Through the History of Heavy Metal . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39
Headbanging as a Dance Movement Practice . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42
Defining Metering Constructions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47
Metal Metering Constructions: Backbeat and Phrase-Ending 3+3+2 . . . . . . 57
Motional Syncopation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 65
Microtiming, Motional Gestalts, and Subdivision Discipline . . . . . . . . . . 71
The Status of 3+3+2 Rhythms as Meter? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 81
Listening with the Phrase-Ending 3+3+2 Construction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 89

2 Experiencing Dance Rhythms Without Dancing in 18th-Century Music 97
Feet First: Moving Between Dance Steps and Classical Theories of Prosody . . 103
The Dance Steps Fade Away, but the Topic Remains . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 109
Theorizing Motion As Accentual Flow . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 116
Syntax in Functional Dance Music . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 124
Wolfgang Caspar Printz: A Syntax of Dance Rhythm c. 1700 . . . . . . . . . . 128
Metering with Dance Rhythms . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 141
Beyond Printz: Motional Syncopation and Change in Metrum . . . . . . . . . 154
Summary and Conclusion: Metrum vs. Meter . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 163

3 Motivic Motion as Meter in Late-Romantic Chamber Music 170
Defining Motives and Their IncompatibilityWith Past Theories of Meter . . . 176
Motive as a Motional Category . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 181
Compatibilities Between Motive and Meter: Entrainment and Orientation . . 196
Transforming Motive, Transforming Meter . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 203
Re-turning to Re-barring and Variable Meter . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 216

4 Interlude: Metering Ravel’s Piano Trio 222
Ravel’s Zortziko . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 223
Choosing Between Motional Conceptual Models . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 227
Retrospective Hearing and Developing an Interpretation . . . . . . . . . . . . 231
Merging Compatible Motions: Weird Joins and Metrical Transmutation . . . . 233
Variable Meter: Metrical Expansion, Deletion, and Overlap . . . . . . . . . . . 240
Motional Blur and Dissolution of Meter . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 245

5 Entrainment Without Recurrence in Operatic Recitative 250
Natural Tonal Rhythm: Pitch Schemas as Metering Constructions . . . . . . . 258
Rhythm in Prosody and Construction Grammar . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 270
Overt and Covert Entrainment to Co-Speech Gestures . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 277
Conducting Patterns and Notated Meter in Speech-like Rhythm . . . . . . . . 286
Entrainment to Speech Rhythms . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 294
Conclusion: Reconsidering Periodicity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 304

References 309

Contact:

sshudson@u.northwestern.edu

Date Listed: 09/08/2019


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