[Smt-talk] Classical metric fakeouts

Guerin, William Brian wguerin at indiana.edu
Mon Mar 28 10:06:22 PDT 2011

I'm not sure this is exactly the same effect, but hemiola effects at 
the beginning of a piece can create a deceptive sense of primary metric 
level (and therefore tempo); I hear the opening of Schumann's Rhenish 
symphony as 3 bars of 3/4 instead of 6 bars.  (There is a similar 
although somewhat weaker effect at bar 3ff. of Brahms 3 as well.)

Not what you were after, but a puzzling metric fakeout (albeit one of a 
different sort-- a 'lateral' one) occurs at bar 4ff. of Act I of Tosca, 
where the downbeat is displaced by one eighth-note-- yet in practice, 
at tempo, it's nearly impossible for me to hear it as syncopated.  But 
other clues in the score (such as the placement of marked accents) 
suggest to me that it's indeed notated correctly.

William Guerin
Ph.D. Cand. in Music Theory, Indiana University
Editor, Indiana Theory Review

On Sat, Mar 26, 2011 at 12:13 PM, Stephen Taylor 
<staylor7 at illinois.edu> wrote:
Dear all,

I'm looking for examples of what Justin London would call "metric 
fakeouts" in the classical repertoire. Especially situations like the 
opening of the Debussy Violin Sonata, where the meter is 3/4 Allegro 
vivo, but the beginning sounds slow. It's not apparent that the piece 
is fast until m. 15, when the quick 8th notes in the violin finally 
coalesce with the piano part.

I've been looking for examples, and as far as I can tell most pieces 
don't do this - they pretty much announce their tempo, slow or fast, 
right at the start; or else they begin meterless, with a fermata (Rite 
of Spring, Beethoven 5). But most pieces don't have a hidden meter 
which is revealed later. Maybe Beethoven's Coriolan Overture? (although 
this piece is much more straightforward than the Debussy).

Any ideas or examples are greatly appreciated!

Best wishes,

Stephen Taylor
Associate Professor of Composition-Theory
School of Music
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Smt-talk mailing list
Smt-talk at lists.societymusictheory.org

More information about the Smt-talk mailing list