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Musical Layers

Basic Terms
By Elisa Diop, 8A
Pulse
A regular, simple beat that is constantly present throughout
the piece.
✢ It sets the speed (tempo) and the rest of the piece is based on it;
✢ Abides by the time signature;
✢ Can be explicit (a whole layer dedicated to the pulse) or implicit
(no layer actually plays the pulse).
✢ Can be complex or simple.
Pulse Example:

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Accent
A emphasis placed on a certain note.
✢ Makes the note more powerful;
✢ Is written like this:

✢ The difference between an accentuated note and a normal one


✢ Real life example:

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Polyrhythm
A piece of music composed of two or more rhythmic layers.
✢ Each layer is composed of different rhythms,
✢ Most songs are like that;
✢ In piano, this usually characterized by the left and right hands,
✢ Must have the same tempo to work together
✢ Real life example

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Syncopation
The emphasis of unusual beats in a piece of music.
✢ Considered a disturbance is the flow of music,
✢ Includes rhythms like dotted quarter notes and dotted eighth
notes,
✢ Popular form: ratio of duration of the first to second to the third
note of 1:2:1:
✢ Syncopation in a song
✢ Real life example (score below):

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Ostinato
A repeated phrase in music.
✢ Different types:
○ Rhythmic ostinatos are composed of rhythms,
○ Melodic ostinatos also involve melodic notes.
✢ Is repeated for the whole song:
✢ Notated like this:

✢ Real-life example