## Teach Yourself Music Theory – 22.) Metric Accents and Syncopation

An accent (which we will cover more later) is an emphasis on a note during performance. Usually, this is indicated by the composer on the sheet music to tell the performer on which notes to put the accent.

However, accents can also naturally happen. We have talked about this before with metric grouping. Within a measure a specific number of beats are grouped together. Not only is it used for organization, but it helps tell the performer where to put the emphasis when playing.

A metric accents is a natural emphasis put on a note due to its placement in the meter. Below is a graph with the level of accentuation put on different beats of various metric groupings:

You have probably already realized this knowing that an upbeat is light, while a downbeat is strong.

Now for a new term:

Syncopation, placing the accent on a weak or unexpected part/division of the beat.

When the emphasis avoids the strong metric accents and is applied to the weaker beats, or to the beat divisions (eighth-notes, etc.), it is called syncopation.

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## Teach Yourself Music Theory – 20.) Mixing Beat Divisions

To remind: when you are in simple meter (4/4) the beat is easily divided into 2s or 4s, and when you are in compound meter (12/8) the beat is divided into 3s or 6s. Review old posts if you are not familiar with these concepts.

However, just because you are in simple meter doesn’t mean that you can’t incorporate compound meter divisions.

Take an example below:

We know that this piece is in duple meter because the time signature is 4/4, but there is a figure notated with a “3.” This is called a triplet, and it appears in duple meter pieces to tell the performer to divide the beat into three eighth notes of even length instead of two – just as you would find in a compound meter.

This can happen in reverse, too…

Thae a look now at this example:

This piece is in compound meter (12/8 and the beat is divided into 3s), but there are two figures – one noted with a “2” and the other with a “4.” They are called duplets and quadruplets respectively, and they divide the beats in compound meter pieces into even divisions.

Practice performing switching between these different divisions.

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## Tip #98 – Pushing-Forward by Dropping a Beat

There are several ways that you can create an effect of pushing forward within a piece of music. The music can increase in dynamics (volume), increase in tempo (speed), become more accentuated, modulate, or have rhythmic anticipations in the melody or harmony.

But what if we become so anticipatory that we skip an entire beat?

In some compositions and popular songs, a steady meter of 4/4 might momentarily drop to 3/4 do accomplish some of the following:

1. Push forward to a new section
2. Create a moment of cutting-off early an older section
3. Reformat the melody to land on a strong beat in an awkward meter

Each of them having the common purpose to make things line metrically in the song according to the hierarchy of beats while creating an unexpected surprise while dropping a beat to mimic momentum into a new section.

I encourage you to play around with a melodic riff and see how dropping a beat in a what-would-be 4/4 sound like.

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