music, syncopation includes a variety of rhythms which are in some way unexpected in that they deviate from the strict succession of regularly spaced strong and weak beats in a meter (pulse). These include a stress on a normally unstressed beat or a rest where one would normally be stressed. "If a part of the measure that is usually unstressed is accented, the rhythm is considered to be syncopated." [Benward & Saker (2003). "Music: In Theory and Practice", Vol. I, p.12. Seventh Edition. ISBN 978-0-07-294262-0.]
Syncopation is used in many
musical styles, if not all, and is fundamental in such styles as funk, ska, reggae, ragtime, rap, jump blues, jazzand often in dubstep, heavy metal, and classical music. "All dance music makes use of [syncopation] and it's often a vital element that helps tie the whole track together"Snoman, Rick (2004). "Dance Music Manual: Toys, Tools, and Techniques", p.44. ISBN 0240519159.] . In the form of a back beat, syncopation is used in virtually all contemporary popular music.
Types of syncopation
Technically, "syncopation occurs when a temporary displacement of the regular metrical accent occurs, causing the emphasis to shift from a strong accent to a weak accent." [Reed, Ted (1997). "Progressive Steps to Syncopation for the Modern Drummer", p.33. ISBN 0882847953.] "Syncopation is," however, "very simply, a deliberate disruption of the two- or three-beat stress pattern, most often by stressing an off-beat, or a note that is not on the beat."Day, Holly and Pilhofer, Michael (2007). "Music Theory For Dummies", p.58-60. ISBN 0764578383.]
Cognitively, Temperley [Temperley, David (1999). "Syncopation in Rock: A Perceptual Perspective". Source: "Popular Music", Vol. 18, No. 1, (Jan., 1999), pp. 19-40. Published by: Cambridge University Press. Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/853567. Accessed: 26/05/2008 17:33] argues that most accurately syncopation be described as involving "displacement; in a syncopation, an accent that belongs on a "particular" strong beat is shifted or displaced to a weak one."
This is an example of the missed beat type of syncopation, in which a rest (silence) is substituted for an expected note [Harvard reference
Surname=van der Merwe
Title=Origins of the Popular Style: The Antecedents of Twentieth-Century Popular Music
ISBN=0193161214 ] . This can occur on any beat in a measure. "The natural stress of the meter has been disrupted -- ONE-two-(three)-FOUR, which is weird, because we want to keep hearing that nonexistent quarter note that would carry the downbeat in the middle of the measure."
This may be thought of as a suspension, as in the following example with two points of syncopation, the third beats which are sustained rather than missed:
However, whether it's a "carefully placed rest or an accented note...any point of a piece of music that moves your perspective of where the downbeat is is a point of syncopation because it's shifting where the strong and weak accents are built."
For example, in meters with even numbers of beats (2/4, 4/4, etc.), the stress normally falls on the odd-numbered beats. If the even-numbered beats are stressed instead, the rhythm is syncopated. However, the former implies duple meter (22) while the latter implies quadruple(13).
The stress can shift by less than a whole beat so it falls on an "off-beat", as in the following example where the stress in the first bar is shifted back by an
eighth note(or quaver):
Whereas the notes are expected to fall "on" the beat:
playing a note ever so slightly before, or after, a beat is another form of syncopation because this produces an unexpected accent:
Anticipated bass Fact|date=May 2008 is a bass tone that comes syncopated shortly before the
downbeat, which is used in Son montuno Cuban dance music. Timing can vary, but it usually comes less than an eighth notebefore the first and third beats in 4/4 time.
Richard MiddletonMiddleton (1990/2002). "Studying Popular Music", p.212-13. Philadelphia: Open University Press. ISBN 0-335-15275-9.] suggests adding the concept of transformation to Narmour's [Narmour (1980). p.147-53. Cited in Middleton (1990/2002), p.212-13.] prosodic rules which create rhythmic successions in order to explain or generate syncopations. "The syncopated pattern is heard 'with reference to', 'in light of', as a remapping of, its partner."He gives examples of various types of syncopation: latin, backbeat, and before-the-beat. First however, one may listen to the audio example of stress on the "strong" beats, where expected:
Latin equivalent of simple 4/4
This unsyncopated rhythm is shown in the first measure directly below:
The third measure depicts the syncopated rhythm in the following audio example in which the first and fourth beat are provided as expected, but the accent unexpected lands in between the second and third beats, creating a familiar "latin rhythm":
Backbeat transformation of simple 4/4
The accent may be shifted from the first to the second beat in duple meter (and the third to fourth in quadruple), creating the backbeat rhythm familiar in rock drumming beatbox stereotypes:
Different crowds will "clap along" at concerts on either 1 & 3 or 2 & 4, as above.
Before-the-beat phrasing, combined with backbeat transformation of a simple repeated
trochee, which gives the phraseology of "Satisfaction", recommended for its syncopation:
yncopation in dance music
In the University of Wyoming Fight Song, "Ragtime Cowboy Joe", "On a horse - a pretty good horse! - That is syncopated gaited", so Joe's horse must forget to take a step every now and again.
*Seyer, Philip, Allan B. Novick and Paul Harmon (1997). "What Makes Music Work". Forest Hill Music. ISBN 0-9651344-0-7.
* [http://www.lovemusiclovedance.com/syncopat.htm Syncopation in Dance and Music]
* [http://www.hum.uva.nl/mmm/press/press-Pages/Image2.html On syncopation (in Dutch)]
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