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For other uses of the same name, see Syncopation (disambiguation). Syncopation_sentence_0

Syncopation is a musical term meaning a variety of rhythms played together to make a piece of music, making part or all of a tune or piece of music off-beat. Syncopation_sentence_1

More simply, syncopation is "a disturbance or interruption of the regular flow of rhythm": a "placement of rhythmic stresses or accents where they wouldn't normally occur". Syncopation_sentence_2

It is the correlation of at least two sets of time intervals. Syncopation_sentence_3

Syncopation is used in many musical styles, especially dance music: "All dance music makes use of syncopation, and it's often a vital element that helps tie the whole track together". Syncopation_sentence_4

In the form of a back beat, syncopation is used in virtually all contemporary popular music. Syncopation_sentence_5

Syncopation can also occur when a strong harmony is simultaneous with a weak beat, for instance, when a 7th-chord is played on the second beat of 4 measure or a dominant chord is played at the fourth beat of a 4 measure. Syncopation_sentence_6

The latter occurs frequently in tonal cadences for 18th- and early-19th-century music and is the usual conclusion of any section. Syncopation_sentence_7

A hemiola (the equivalent Latin term is sesquialtera) can also be considered as one straight measure in three with one long chord and one short chord and a syncope in the measure thereafter, with one short chord and one long chord. Syncopation_sentence_8

Usually, the last chord in a hemiola is a (bi-)dominant, and as such a strong harmony on a weak beat, hence a syncope. Syncopation_sentence_9

Types of syncopation Syncopation_section_0

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". Syncopation_sentence_10

"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." Syncopation_sentence_11

Suspension Syncopation_section_1

For the following example, there are two points of syncopation where the third beats are sustained from the second beats. Syncopation_sentence_12

In the same way, the first beat of the second bar is sustained from the fourth beat of the first bar. Syncopation_sentence_13


  • Syncopation_item_0_0

Though syncopation may be very complex, dense or complex-looking rhythms often contain no syncopation. Syncopation_sentence_14

The following rhythm, though dense, stresses the regular downbeats, 1 and 4 (in 8): Syncopation_sentence_15


  • Syncopation_item_1_1

However, whether it's a placed rest or an accented note, any point in a piece of music that changes the listener's sense of the downbeat is a point of syncopation because it's shifting where the strong and weak accents are built. Syncopation_sentence_16

Off-beat syncopation Syncopation_section_2

The stress can shift by less than a whole beat, so it occurs on an offbeat, as in the following example, where the stress in the first bar is shifted back by an eighth note (or quaver): Syncopation_sentence_17


  • Syncopation_item_2_2

Whereas the notes are expected to occur on the beat: Syncopation_sentence_18


  • Syncopation_item_3_3

Playing a note ever so slightly before, or after, a beat is another form of syncopation because this produces an unexpected accent: Syncopation_sentence_19


  • Syncopation_item_4_4

It can be helpful to think of a 4 rhythm in eighth notes and count it as "1-and-2-and-3-and-4-and". Syncopation_sentence_20

In general, emphasizing the "and" would be considered the off-beat. Syncopation_sentence_21

Anticipated bass Syncopation_section_3

Anticipated bass is a bass tone that comes syncopated shortly before the downbeat, which is used in Son montuno Cuban dance music. Syncopation_sentence_22

Timing can vary, but it usually occurs on the 2+ and the 4 of the 4 time, thus anticipating the third and first beats. Syncopation_sentence_23

This pattern is known commonly as the Afro-Cuban bass tumbao. Syncopation_sentence_24

Transformation Syncopation_section_4

Richard Middleton suggests adding the concept of transformation to Narmour's prosodic rules which create rhythmic successions in order to explain or generate syncopations. Syncopation_sentence_25

"The syncopated pattern is heard 'with reference to', 'in light of', as a remapping of, its partner." Syncopation_sentence_26

He gives examples of various types of syncopation: Latin, backbeat, and before-the-beat. Syncopation_sentence_27

First however, one may listen to the audio example of stress on the "strong" beats, where expected: Play (help·) Syncopation_sentence_28

Latin equivalent of simple 44 Syncopation_section_5

In the example below, for the first two measures an unsyncopated rhythm is shown in the first measure. Syncopation_sentence_29

The third measure has a syncopated rhythm in which the first and fourth beat are provided as expected, but the accent occurs unexpectedly in between the second and third beats, creating a familiar "Latin rhythm" known as tresillo. Syncopation_sentence_30


Backbeat transformation of simple 44 Syncopation_section_6

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: Syncopation_sentence_31


Different crowds will "clap along" at concerts either on 1 and 3 or on 2 and 4, as above. Syncopation_sentence_32

"Satisfaction" example Syncopation_section_7

The phrasing of "Satisfaction" is a good example of syncopation. Syncopation_sentence_33

It is derived here from its theoretic unsyncopated form, a repeated trochee (¯ ˘ ¯ ˘). Syncopation_sentence_34

A backbeat transformation is applied to "I" and "can't", and then a before-the-beat transformation is applied to "can't" and "no". Syncopation_sentence_35

Play (help·) Syncopation_sentence_36

This demonstrates how each syncopated pattern may be heard as a remapping, "with reference to" or "in light of", an unsyncopated pattern. Syncopation_sentence_37

History Syncopation_section_8

Syncopation has been an important element of European musical composition since at least the Middle Ages. Syncopation_sentence_38

Many Italian and French compositions of the music of the 14th-century Trecento use syncopation, as in of the following madrigal by Giovanni da Firenze. Syncopation_sentence_39

(See also hocket.) Syncopation_sentence_40

The refrain "Deo Gratias" from the 15th-century anonymous English Agincourt Carol is also characterised by lively syncopation: Syncopation_sentence_41

“The 15th-century carol repertory is one of the most substantial monuments of English medieval music... Syncopation_sentence_42

The early carols are rhythmically straightforward, in modern 6/8 time; later the basic rhythm is in 3/4, with many cross-rhythms... as in the famous Agincourt carol 'Deo gratias Anglia'. Syncopation_sentence_43

As in other music of the period, the emphasis is not on harmony, but on melody and rhythm.” Syncopation_sentence_44

Composers of the musical High Renaissance Venetian School, such as Giovanni Gabrieli (1557–1612), exploited syncopation for both their secular madrigals and instrumental pieces and also in their choral sacred works, such as the motet Domine, Dominus noster: Syncopation_sentence_45

Denis Arnold (1979, p. 93) says: "the syncopations of this passage are of a kind which is almost a Gabrieli fingerprint, and they are typical of a general liveliness of rhythm common to Venetian music". Syncopation_sentence_46

The composer Igor Stravinsky (1959, p. 91), no stranger to syncopation himself, spoke of "those marvellous rhythmic inventions" that feature in Gabrieli's music. Syncopation_sentence_47

J. Syncopation_sentence_48 S. Bach and George Handel used syncopated rhythms as an inherent part of their compositions. Syncopation_sentence_49

One of the best-known examples of syncopation in music from the Baroque era was the "Hornpipe" from Handel’s Water Music (1733). Syncopation_sentence_50

Christopher Hogwood (2005, p. 37) describes the Hornpipe as “possibly the most memorable movement in the collection, combining instrumental brilliance and rhythmic vitality… Woven amongst the running quavers are the insistent off-beat syncopations that symbolise confidence for Handel.” Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. Syncopation_sentence_51 4 features striking deviations from the established rhythmic norm in its first and third movements. Syncopation_sentence_52

According to Malcolm Boyd (1993, p. 53), each ritornello section of the first movement, "is clinched with an Epilog of syncopated antiphony": Syncopation_sentence_53

Boyd (1993, p. 85) also hears the coda to the third movement as "remarkable… for the way the rhythm of the initial phrase of the fugue subject is expressed… with the accent thrown on to the second of the two minims (now staccato)": Syncopation_sentence_54

Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, and Schubert used syncopation to create variety especially in their symphonies. Syncopation_sentence_55

The beginning movement of Beethoven's Eroica Symphony No. Syncopation_sentence_56

3 exemplifies powerfully the uses of syncopation in a piece in triple time. Syncopation_sentence_57

After producing a pattern of three beats to a bar at the outset, Beethoven disrupts it through syncopation in a number of ways: Syncopation_sentence_58

(1) By displacing the rhythmic emphasis to a weak part of the beat, as in the first violin part in bars 7–9: Syncopation_sentence_59

Taruskin (2010, p. 658) describes here how "the first violins, entering immediately after the C sharp, are made palpably to totter for two bars". Syncopation_sentence_60

(2) By placing accents on normally weak beats, as in bars 25–26 and 28–35: Syncopation_sentence_61

This "long sequence of syncopated sforzandi" recurs later during the development section of this movement, in a passage that Antony Hopkins (1981, p. 75) describes as "a rhythmic pattern that rides roughshod over the properties of a normal three-in-a bar". Syncopation_sentence_62

(3) By inserting silences (rests) at points where a listener might expect strong beats, in the words of George Grove (1896, p. 61), "nine bars of discords given fortissimo on the weak beats of the bar": Syncopation_sentence_63

See also Syncopation_section_9


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