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    DeFord, Ruth I. 2017. Beating Time and Measuring Music in the Early Modern Era by Roger Mathew Grant. Journal of Music Theory, Vol. 62, Issue. 2, p. 289.

    Kim, Youn 2014. “Boundaries” and “thresholds”: Conceptual models of the musical mind in the history of music psychology. Psychology of Music, Vol. 42, Issue. 5, p. 671.

  • Print publication year: 2002
  • Online publication date: March 2008

21 - Theories of musical rhythm in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries

from C - Time
Rhythmic theories, like many other domains of music theory, are largely formulated in relation to a distinct compositional practice. Prior to the seventeenth century, rhythm in Western music was organized according to the mensural system. In this period, the mensural system gradually evolved into the modern system of note values and meters. At least two basic issues regularly prompted debate: the number of primary divisions in a measure, and the nature of compound meters. As a general rule, accent was linked directly to meter; the idea of nonmetrical accentuation arose now and then but did not become an important component of rhythmic theory until the nineteenth century. The wide variety of terms for accentuation used by Baroque theorists clearly reveal the conceptual difficulties attendant on metrical accent. Johann Mattheson's extensive list of twenty-six durational patterns, which he calls sound-feet in analogy to the feet of poetic meters, represents the most complete extant theory of musical rhythmopoeia.
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The Cambridge History of Western Music Theory
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