Dissertation Index

Author: Stover, Chris

Title: A Theory of Flexible Rhythmic Spaces for Diasporic African Music

Institution: University of Washington

Begun: January 2007

Completed: December 2009


This study proposes a model of flexible spans of time to describe some of the ways in which the actual performed notes of Afro-Cuban musicians locate temporally, as mediated by the improvisational, call-and-response nature of the music as well as the overallteleological motion of the performance. It begins by addressing the ever-evolving discursive terrain around meter, beat hierarchy, and timelines, including various recent and historical perspectives, and as a dialectic begins to emerge between a listenerly perspective and a performerly one, an engagement with a Husserlian phenomenological epistemology unfolds. A detailed analysis begins, then, with a close phenomenological reading of three African and diasporic timelines, or topoi, in order to make some generalizations about how such events operate from structural and cognitive frames of reference. As the focus shifts from a metric orientation to a rhythmic one, the malleability of rhythm at a local level is considered: how parallel metro-rhythmic grids affect a performer

Keywords: rhythm, meter, microrhythm, beat span, phenomenology, Africa, Cuba, clave


- Timelines, Topoi, and Clave
- Transcription and Sources

1. Some Metric Considerations Refined and Contested
- Meter and Accent
- Clave Pendularity
- Non-Isochronous Meters
- Diatonic Models
- Toward a Phenomenological Model

2. A Phenomenological Investigation of Three Diasporic Timelines
- The Standard Pattern
- West African Evocations in Cuba
- Beat Spans

3. Interpenetrating Calls and Responses: The Dialogic Nature of Rumba
- Calls and Response in Rumba
- Projection, Meter as Process
- Call and Response in a guaguanc


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