Our final observation concerning tempo and meter has to do with the slower (higher level) pulse streams. A look back at any of the metric structures illustrated will show that the top Level A is always undefined regarding its distribution of strong/weak accents. We must add an additional slower level to demonstrate that the slowest pulse that we can hear does in fact sound duple.

Level A in Example 53 is undefined until we add a slower regular pulse above it, as shown in Example 54.

Ex. 53

ex.55-3-pulse-levels -op-undefined.png

Ex. 54


Having added a new level, we find that it takes the place of level A as an undefined pulse! And so on as far as we care to take it. Theoretically, there is a single “ultimate dot” for every piece of music! Given the lack of definition of the time between pulses, it seems we could abandon altogether the notion that the quality of measuredness operates at these slow levels. We would be mistaken to do so. While it is true that we cannot physically sense meter in these instances, another dimension of music comes into play that depends heavily on periodicity—melody.




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