Introducing Musical Meter through Perception

Authored by: Stanley V. Kleppinger

The Routledge Companion to Music Theory Pedagogy

Print publication date:  February  2020
Online publication date:  February  2020

Print ISBN: 9781138585010
eBook ISBN: 9780429505584
Adobe ISBN:


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The relationships among time signatures, metrical descriptors like “simple” and “compound,” and heard metrical structure are, in practice, more convoluted than theory-classroom introductions to meter sometimes let on. This issue suggests the advantage of understanding and teaching musical meter as a perceptual phenomenon that is only imperfectly represented by notated time signatures. In this chapter I describe an approach invoking elements of Lerdahl and Jackendoff’s A Generative Theory of Tonal Music to identify metrical structures aurally. This teaching technique encourages students to understand meter as a perceptual phenomenon rather than as a product of notation conventions.

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