This text presents an alternative to the introduction to rhythm and meter typically encountered in college theory curricula. It contrasts mainly by presenting the concept of measured and unmeasured music and the nature of metric structure well before notation and time signatures are considered; it offers a simpler taxonomy of meters, and sets the stage for more advanced study of phrase rhythm, form, and hypermeter. A more advanced sample analysis shows how a hypermetric scheme, arising from phrase rhythm, can be conducted.
The goal of rhythmic analysis as developed within this course is an "analytical recital" taking the place of a final exam. Preparation for this performance involves acquiring mental rehearsal techniques and the ability to analyze phrase rhythm and its role in determining the hypermetric scheme of a movement of symphonic proportions. The essential components of the "recital" consist of conducting the hypermeter with no score, recording, or other aids, supplemented by oral commentary as needed.
This course sharpens a student's ability to quickly recognize tonal motion, from brief tonicizations to long-span key changes. The chief skill is identifying scale changes and harmonic underpinnings to evaluate the "tonal profile" of a work. A number of theoretical constructs with associated visual and aural patterns are learned in each of the major and minor keys using mental rehearsal. Students rehearse the entire vocabulary of constructs in the key of the piece before they encounter the score. Refining awareness of the expressive potentials of tonal operations is the ultimate goal of the course.