Notas curtas em tempos fortes

estudos de caso sobre a métrica africana e afro-diaspórica


  • Lina Sofia Tabak The Graduate Center, CUNY



Many scholars of Sub-Saharan repertoires often cite the ostensible metrical malleability of the music they study, without acknowledging that enculturated listeners usually only understand one metrical orientation to be correct. For instance, in several examples from Studies in African Music, A. M. Jones’ placements of contrasting barlines appear to be entirely dependent on where long notes fall in each staff: all relatively long durations are notated as falling on strong metrical placements. In this paper, I observe that short note values in certain Sub-Saharan and Afro-Diasporic repertoires seem just as likely to lie on a beat onset as their longer counterparts. This may be a source of metrical confusion to some, as Lerdahl and Jackendoff (1983) claim that listeners tend to hear long durations as carrying metrical strength in what they term “Metrical Preference Rule 5a” (MPR5a). Through a limited corpus study and close analysis of five pieces, in this paper I study the explanatory scope of Lerdahl and Jackendoff’s metrical preference rules—and of MPR5a specifically—when applied to Sub-Saharan and Afro-Diasporic vernacular music. Some listeners bring metrical “baggage” in the form of MPRs, which I argue often do not work for establishing the culturally correct metrical structures. Thus, this paper suggests that thinking critically about one’s own metrical inclinations allows for a deeper understanding of the conditions under which entrainment to (perhaps unexpected) metrical structures occurs.