In music, syncopation involves a variety of rhythms which are in some
way unexpected which make part or all of a tune or piece of music
off-beat. More simply, syncopation is a general term for "a
disturbance or interruption of the regular flow of rhythm": a
"placement of rhythmic stresses or accents where they wouldn't
normally occur." The correlation of at least two sets of time
intervals. Also known as an "Uneven movement from bar to bar".
Vertical hemiola. Play (help·info)
1 Types of syncopation
1.1 Suspension 1.2 "Even-note" syncopation 1.3 Off-beat syncopation 1.4 Anticipated bass
2.1 Latin equivalent of simple 44 2.2 Backbeat transformation of simple 44 2.3 "Satisfaction" example
3 History 4 See also 5 References 6 Sources 7 External links
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." "
Though syncopation may be highly complex, dense or complex looking rhythms often contain no syncopation. The following rhythm, though dense, stresses the regular downbeats, 1 & 4 (in 6 8): Play (help·info)
However, whether it's a placed rest or an accented note, any point in a piece of music that moves your perspective of the downbeat is a point of syncopation because it's shifting where the strong and weak accents are built." "Even-note" syncopation 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. Accordingly, the former implies duple meter (1212) while the latter implies quadruple meter (1234). Off-beat syncopation 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) Play (help·info):
Whereas the notes are expected to fall on the beat Play (help·info):
Playing a note ever so slightly before, or after, a beat is another form of syncopation because this produces an unexpected accent Play (help·info):
It can be helpful to think of a 4
4 rhythm in eighth notes and count it as "1-and-2-and-3-and-4-and". In
general emphasizing the "and" would be considered the off-beat.
Anticipated bass is a bass tone that comes syncopated shortly
before the downbeat, which is used in
The third bar depicts the syncopated rhythm in the following audio example in which the first and fourth beat are provided as expected, but the accent unexpectedly lands in between the second and third beats, creating a familiar "Latin rhythm" known as tresillo: Play (help·info) 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. "Satisfaction" example The phrasing of "Satisfaction", a good example of syncopation, is derived here from its theoretic unsyncopated form, a repeated trochee (¯ ˘ ¯ ˘). A backbeat transformation is applied to "I" and "can't", and then a before-the-beat transformation is applied to "can't" and "no".
1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & Repeated trochee: ¯ ˘ ¯ ˘ I can't get no – o Backbeat trans.: ¯ ˘ ¯ ˘ I can't get no – o Before-the-beat: ¯ ˘ ¯ ˘ I can't get no – o
This demonstrates how each syncopated pattern may be heard as a
remapping, "'with reference to'," or, "'in light of'," an unsyncopated
Giovanni da Firenze, Appress' un fiume.Listen
Composers of the musical High Renaissance Venetian School, such as
Giovanni Gabrieli, "Domine, Dominus noster"
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." The composer
Bach Brandenburg 4 closing bars of the ritornello that ends the first movement. Link to passage
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).":
Bach Brandenburg 4 coda to the 3rd movement. Link to passage
Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, and Schubert used syncopation to create
variety especially in their symphonies. The opening movement of
Beethoven's Eroica Symphony No. 3 exemplifies powerfully the uses of
syncopation in a piece in triple time. After setting up a clear
pattern of three beats to a bar at the outset,
Taruskin (2010, p. 658) describes here how "the first violins, entering immediately after the C sharp, are made palpably to totter for two bars." (2) By placing accents on normally weak beats, as in bars 25-26 and 28-35 :
Beethoven, Symphony No. 3, first movement, bars 23–37, first violin part. Link to passage
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." (3) By inserting silences (rests) at points where a listener might expect strong beats, in the words of George Grove (1896, p61), "nine bars of discords given fortissimo on the weak beats of the bar.":
Beethoven, Symphony No.3, first movement, bars 123–131, first violin part. Link to passage
^ Hoffman, Miles (1997). "Syncopation". National Symphony Orchestra.
NPR. Retrieved 13 July 2009.
^ Patterson, William Morrison, '
Seyer, Philip, Allan B. Novick and Paul Harmon (1997). What Makes Music Work. Forest Hill Music. ISBN 0-9651344-0-7.
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