Analysis of Rhythm and Meter    

Dr. Tim Koozin, Moores School of Music, University of Houston

MUSI 6397  

MSM 148     (713)743-3318

MW 9:00-10:30, Room 145


section 22772, Spring 2014 web page:

SYLLABUS  | Class Presentation | Term Paper | Reading List | UH Library E-Reserve

Course Description: How can we study and better understand the experience of musical time? How does a performer shape the flow of meter and large-scale rhythm? In this course we will explore the analysis of rhythm through readings and analysis projects. Repertoire will include tonal, post-tonal, and popular Western music, as well as music of other traditions. A music theory elective.

Prerequisite: Graduate standing in music with no unresolved music theory remedial requirements.  Students are expecteded to comply with UH Policies on Academic Honesty.

Schedule (subject to change)

   4 weeks: Analytical approaches (Cone, Rothstein, London, and others)
   3 weeks: Post-tonal repertoire (Straus, Kramer, and others)
   2 weeks: Popular music repertoire
   3 weeks: Classical-Romantic repertoire
   2 weeks: Synthesis

Grading and Policies

   Class participation and short assignments  30%
   Class presentation 10%
   Short papers (2 x 15%) 30%
   Term paper 30%

Last day to drop without a grade: January 29
Last day to drop or withdraw: March 26 

Week 1

Cone, ch 1, "The Picture and the Frame: The Nature of Musical Form"

Rothstein, chs 1 and 2

Many pieces are discussed in the readings. Listen to any works you are less familiar with. Whenever possible, consult a complete score for any piece discussed.

For next Wednesday, Jan 22: Write a an essay, 1-2 pages in length, on the Cone and Rothstein readings.What questions to the authors pose concerning rhythm and meter? Discuss some of their basic premises, terms, and methodologies. What do the readings reveal about the authors?

Week 2

Rothstein, Ch 7 (Chopin)

Meyer, "Critical Analysis and Performance: The Theme of Mozart's A-Major Piano Sonata"

Beach, Advanced Schenkerian Analysis, Ch 1 and 10

Assignment for next Monday: Beethoven. Variation on “God Save the King,” Thema” (score on eReserve)
      Create your own analytical graph for the first two systems of the score. Model your graph after one of the following from our readings:
           Rothstein: 1.2, 1.3, 1.4, 2.2, 2.6; Cone: page 28.
      Write one paragraph explaining what your graph reveals about the piece.

Week 3

David Rowland. "Chopin's Tempo Rubato in Context" in Chopin Studies 2. John Rink and Jim Samson, eds, 2006. (e-Reserve)

Matthew W. Butterfield. 2006. "The Power of Anacrusis: Engendered Feeling in Groove-Based Musics." Music Theory Online 12/4.  Study Questions

Lori Burns. “Feeling the Style: Vocal Gesture and Musical Expression in Billie Holiday, Bessie Smith, and Louis Armstrong.” Music Theory Online 11/3:

Henry Martin. 2012. "Charlie Parker and 'Honeysuckle Rose': Voice Leading, Formula, and Motive." Music Theory Online 18.3.6.

Week 4 (We will leave off these for now. Skip to weeks 5-6.)

Articles by Progler, Larson, Folio, and others on swing rhythm, analysis, and improvisation in jazz.

London, Hearing in Time, ch 2, (optional: See chs 1, 3, 4, & 6)   Study Questions

Week 5-6

Gesture and Topic Theory:

Selections from Leonard G Ratner, 1980, Classic Music: Expression, Form and Style.

Robert Hatten, 2006, “A Theory of Musical Gesture and its Application to Beethoven and Schubert.” In Music and Gesture, ed. Anthony Gritten and Elaine King, 142–164.

Selections from Raymond Monelle, 2006, The Musical Topic: Hunt, Military and Pastoral. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. UH e-book. Especially recommended: Chs 1 and 12-16.

Week 7-8

Rhythm, Modernism, and Postmodernism: Readings on Stravinsky, Debussy, and Carter (all on eReserve):

Edward T. Cone . "Stravinsky: The Progress of a Method." Perspectives of New Music 1/1 (Fall 1962): 18-26.
Sonata chapter from Joseph Straus, Remaking the Past.
Jan Pasler. "Debussy, Jeux: Playing with Time and Form," 19th Century Music, vi.1 (1982), 60-75.
David Schiff on Elliot Carter.
Postmodernism reading: Jonathan D. Kramer. "Postmodern Concepts of Musical Time" Indiana Theory Review 17/2 (1996): 21-62.    eReserve

Week 9



Rebecca Leydon. "Towards a Typology of Minimalist Tropes," Music Theory Online 8/4 (2002).

Sean Atkinson. "Aspects of Otherness in John Adams's Nixon in China," Dutch Journal of Music Theory, 18/3 (2013). (e-Reserve)

Class discussion on seleced pieces by John Adams (China Gates (e-Reserve), Nixon in China, El Nino, Death of Klinghoffer)

(optional, but recommended) Timothy A. Johnson, "Minimalism: Aesthetic, Style, or Technique?," Musical Quarterly 78 (Winter 1994): 742-73.


CD-853   Reich, Come Out
CD-3779  Reich, Drumming Music
CD-4556  Reich, Eight Lines
CD-3909  Reich, Violin Phase
CD-893     Reich, Tehillim
CD-5043  Reich, Different Trains
CD-5265   Reich, The Cave
CD-892    Riley, In C
CD-5013  Riley, Cadenza on the Night Plain
CD-5008  Glass, Einstein on the Beach
CD-5010  Glass, Songs from Liquid Days
CD-2553   Glass, Satyagraha
                  Glass Koyaanisqatsi (1982 film)
CD-2541  Adams, Grand Pianola Music
CD-3518  Adams, Phrygian Gates
CD-1835  Adams, Nixon in China
CD-5519  Adams, The Death of Klinghoffer
CD-3571 Torke, The Yellow Pages
CD-6767   Zorn, Spillane
Video:    Four American Composers: Philip Glass (video 1595)
Web site:

Repertoire assignment: Please listen to the following works, with ther score if possible. Be ready to discuss these pieces in class:
    Adams. Phrygian Gates
          CD-3518     M25.A24 P5 1990z     Naxos:
    Adams. The Death of Klinghoffer
          CD-5519    M1503.A22 D3 1994

    Adams. Doctor Atomic. DVD 0439
    Glass. YouTube clips from films:
    Arvo Pärt. Magnificat for mixed chorus.       M2079.L6P37 (This YouTube clip displays the score.)

Weeks 10-15: Score Analysis, Presentations and Discussions

Class presentation: Form a group of perhaps four class members to complete this project. Your task is to create a phrase rhythm analysis for a complete movement, employing the principles and analytical vocabulary introduced by Rothstein in Chs 1-2 of Phrase Rhythm in Tonal Music and Edward T. Cone in Musical Form and Musical Performance, Ch 1. This might be a movement from an instrumental work or a vocal piece. Since time may not allow detailed study of the entire piece, a focused study on particular aspects of the piece is desirable. The outcome should be an analysis-- or a grouping of related analytical issues-- that could illuminate the performance of the work. Consider analytical decisions which could lead to varied interpretations in performance. (10% of grade)

Outside reading: Integrate an idea or methodology derived from your study of an outside reading (selected from the class reading list).

Wednesday, February 5: Initial presentation to the class. Introduce your analytical topic(s) and work in progress. Provide the class with an assignment (listening, reading, analysis).

Wednesday, February 19: Present finished study to the class. Each individual will also turn in a four-page paper documenting their personal contribution to the presentation.

Term Paper: Write a paper approximately 10 pages in length (double-spaced typed) on a focused topic which relates to our studies of rhythm and meter. Your goal is to formulate a focused analytical topic and develop it in a thoughtful, well-organized paper. Your bibliography should include a minimum of three sources which provide analytical perspectives and/or historical context. You are encouraged to meet with me individually as your work progresses.

Abstract, outline and bibliography due: Monday, March 3.

Final draft due: During Exam Week, Monday, May 5.

Second Short Paper: Write a paper approximately 4 pages in length (double-spaced typed) on elements of rhythm and performance in a 20th or 21st- century work. You may choose a piece from concert repretoire, jazz work, or popular song. Analytical examples are encouraged, possibly including score or transcription renderings. Your bibliography should include a minimum of three sources which provide analytical, interpretive, and/or historical context. You are encouraged to meet with me individually as your work progresses.

Abstract, outline and bibliography due: Monday, April 7.

Final draft due: Monday, April 28.

Selected Reading List on reserve in the Music Library | Go to UH Library E-Reserve | Jazz and Popular Music Readings |


Wallace Berry. Musical Structure and Performance. Yale University Press, 1989.

Edward T. Cone. Musical Form and Musical Performance. Norton, 1968. Nicholas Cook. Analysing Musical Multimedia. Oxford, 1998.

Grosvenor W. Cooper and Leonard B. Meyer. The Rhythmic Structure of Music. University of Chicago Press, 1960.

David Epstein. Beyond Orpheus: Studies in Musical Structure. MIT Press, 1979.

Jonathan Cross. The Stravinsky Legacy, Cambridge University Press, 1998.

David Epstein. Shaping Time: Music, the Brain, and Performance. Schirmer Books, 1995.

Roger Graybill. "Prolongation, Gesture, and Musical Motion" in Musical Transformation and Musical Intuition: Eleven Essays in Honor of David Lewin. Raphael Atlas and Michael Cherlin, eds. Ovenbird Press, 1994, p. 199-224.

Roy Howat. Debussy in Proportion. Cambridge University Press, 1983.

Jonathan D. Kramer. The Time of Music: New Meanings, New Temporalities, New Listening Strategies. Schirmer Books, 1988.

Harald Krebs. Fantasy pieces: metrical dissonance in the music of Robert Schumann. Oxford, 1999.

Fred Lerdahl and Ray Jackendoff. A Generative Theory of Tonal Music. MIT Press, 1983.

Joel Lester. The Rhythms of Tonal Music. Southern Illinois University Press, 1986.

Justin London. Hearing in Time: Psychological Aspects of Musical Meter. Oxford University Press, 2004.

Leonard B. Meyer Explaining Music. University of California Press, 1973.

William Rothstein. Phrase Rhythm in Tonal Music. Schirmer Books, 1989.

Peter Westergaard. Notes, Beats and Measures. In An Introduction to Tonal Theory (Ch. 7). Norton, 1975.

Maury Yeston. The Stratification of Musical Rhythm. Yale University Press, 1976.

Victor Zuckerkandl. Sound and Symbol: Music and the External World. Pantheon Books, 1956.

Articles and Other Reserve Items

William E. Benjamin. "A Theory of Musical Meter." Music Perception 1 (1984): 355-413.

Wallace Berry. "Formal Process and Performance in the "Eroica" Introductions." Music Theory Spectrum 10 (Spring, 1988): 3-18.

________. "Metric and Rhythmic Articulation in Music." Music Theory Spectrum 7 (1985): 7-33.

William Berz. "Working Memory in Music: A Theoretical Model." Music Perception 12 (1995): 353-64.

Candice Brower. "Memory and the Perception of Rhythm ." Music Theory Spectrum 15/1 (1993): 19-35.

Charles Burkhart. "Mid-Bar Downbeat in Bach’s Keyboard Music." Journal of Music Theory Pedagogy 8 (1994): 3-26.

Eric F. Clarke. "Levels of Structure in the Organization of Musical Time." Contemporary Music Review 2/1 (1987): 211-38.

Edward T. Cone. "Musical Form and Musical Performance Reconsidered." Music Theory Spectrum 7 (1985): 149-158.

________. "Stravinsky: The Progress of a Method." Perspectives of New Music 1/1 (Fall 1962): 18-26.

Irene Deliege. "Grouping Conditions in Listening to Music: An Approach to Lerdahl and Jackendoff’s Grouping Preference Rules." Music Perception 4 (1987): 325-360.

Roger Graybill. "Towards a Pedagogy of Gestural Rhythm." Journal of Music Theory Pedagogy 4/1 (1990): 1-50.

David Headlam. "A Rhythmic Study of the Exposition of the Second Movement of Beethoven’s Quartet Op. 59, No. 1." Music Theory Spectrum 7 (1985): 114-38.

Timothy A. Johnson, "Minimalism: Aesthetic, Style, or Technique?," Musical Quarterly 78 (Winter 1994): 742-73.

Tim Koozin. "Spiritual-Temporal Imagery in Music of Olivier Messiaen and Toru Takemitsu." Contemporary Music Review  7/2 (1993).

________. "Toru Takemitsu and the Unity of Opposites."  College Music Symposium 30 (1990). 

________. "Traversing Distances: Pitch Organization, Gesture, and Imagery in the Late Works of Toru Takemitsu."Contemporary Music Review 21/4 (2003).

Marianne Kielian-Gilbert. "The Rhythms of Form: Correspondence and Analogy in Stravinsky's Designs." Music Theory Spectrum 9 (Spring, 1987): 42-66.

Jonathan D. Kramer. "Postmodern Concepts of Musical Time" Indiana Theory Review 17/2 (1996): 21-62.

Jonathan D. Kramer. "Studies of Time and Music: A Bibliography…" Music Theory Spectrum 7 (1985): 72-106.

Harald Krebs. "Some Extensions of the Concepts of Metrical Consonance and Dissonance." Journal of Music Theory 31 (1987): 99-120.

Steve Larson. "On Analysis and Performance: The Contribution of Durational Reduction to the Performance of J.S. Bach’s Two-Part Invention in C Major." In Theory Only 7/1 (1983): 31-45.

Joel Lester. "Notated and Heard Meter." Perspectives of New Music 24/2 (1986): 116-28.

Rebecca Leydon. “Towards a Typology of Minimalist Tropes.” Music Theory Online 8/4 (2002).

Judy Lochhead. "The Metaphor of Musical Motion: Is there an Alternative?" Theory and Practice 14-15 (1989-90).

Jan Pasler. "Debussy, Jeux: Playing with Time and Form," 19th Century Music, vi.1 (1982), 60-75.

Carl Schachter. "Rhythm and Linear Analysis: A Preliminary Study." Music Forum 4 (1976): 281-334.

Carl Schachter. "Rhythm and Linear Analysis: Durational Reduction." Music Forum 5 (1980): 197-232.

Carl Schachter. "Aspects of Meter." Music Forum 6 (1987): 1-59. Neil Todd. "A Model of Expressive Timing in Tonal Music." Music Perception 3/1 (1985): 33-58.

Joseph Straus. Introduction to Post-Tonal Theory (Prentice-Hall, 1990). Chapter 1, Analysis 1 & 2.

________. Remaking the Past: Musical Modernism and the Influence of the Tonal Tradition. (Harvard University Press, 1990.)

________. “Stravinsky's Construction of Twelve Verticals: An Aspect of Harmony in the Serial Music.” Music Theory Spectrum 21/1 (1999).

Maury Yeston. "Rubato and the Middleground." Journal of Music Theory 19 (1975): 286-301.

Jazz and Popular Music Readings