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The Philosophy of RhythmAesthetics, Music, Poetics$
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Peter Cheyne, Andy Hamilton, and Max Paddison

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780199347773

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199347773.001.0001

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Rhythm and Popular Music

Rhythm and Popular Music

(p.141) 9 Rhythm and Popular Music
The Philosophy of Rhythm

Alison Stone

Oxford University Press

Chapter 9 explores how rhythm functions and affects us in popular music, restricting that term to the post-1950s period, and arguing that in such music, measured time becomes a resource for creating fields of energy that empower us as embodied human agents. One typical layer of sound in popular music is what the chapter identifies as “explicit” rhythm: a constant (metrical) layer of percussion that has no precise pitch. In relation to this layer, the rhythmic qualities of all the other layers of sound—vocal/melodic, harmonic, bass-lines, etc.—are heightened, as they emphasize beats that fit in with or pull against the (metric) level emphasized by the percussion. This gives the music a pronounced rhythmic character that appeals to our bodies by providing opportunities to move creatively with the emphases sounded by the different layers of the music. The account is illustrated with the example of Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean.”

Keywords:   rhythm, popular music, energy, meter, percussion, Michael Jackson, Billie Jean

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