Pattern and Variation in the Timing of Aksak Meter: Commentary on Goldberg

Article English OPEN
Rainer Polak (2016)
  • Publisher: The Ohio State University Libraries
  • Journal: Empirical Musicology Review (issn: 1559-5749)
  • Related identifiers: doi: 10.18061/emr.v10i4.4883
  • Subject: timing | asymmetric rhythm | non-isochronous meter | Music | M1-5000

Daniel Goldberg (2015, this issue) explores relations between timing variations, grouping structure, and musical form in the percussive accompaniment of Balkan folk dance music. A chronometric re-analysis of one of the target article’s two audio samples finds a regular metric timing pattern to consistently underlie the variations Goldberg uncovered. Read together, the target article and this commentary demonstrate the complex interplay of a regular timing pattern with several levels of nuanced variation to be performed with fluency, flexibility, and accuracy. This might appear commonplace, but here it is observed in the context of an asymmetric rhythmic mode, non-isochronous beat sequence, and asymmetric metric hierarchy. This context evidently does not represent a constraint of any sort in respect to the rhythmic timing performance, which casts doubts on the deep-seated assumption that metric regularity depends on iso-periodicity and vertical symmetry. This assumption is sometimes explicitly and often implicitly taken as universal; this comment suggests that, on the contrary, it might well be culturally biased.
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