Week 7: Tonal rhythm (F18)

Last modified on August 4, 2023

This week you will learn how to approach the nuances of rhythm in tonal music. You’ll get introduced to the concepts through Edward Klorman’s excellent summary of popular approaches, listen to several pieces by Strauss, Mozart, Bach, Haydn, and others, and do your own analysis of a song by Clara Schumann.

Due Saturday, Oct 6

Introduction to tonal rhythm

Read Part 1 of , which is up to page 12. These are basic concepts about meter that you will need to understand to start analyzing meter in tonal music.

Be sure to listen to the musical examples:

Concept check

Complete the Concept Check quiz on Blackboard to see if you are understanding hypermeter and grouping properly.

NEW!—Collaborative note taking

Read Part II of  (pages 13 ff.). Be sure to listen to recordings of each of the examples:


  • Go to Blackboard and navigate to your group wiki. Note: you have new groups this week! Post to your new Wks 7–9 group.
  • Work with your group members to create a wiki that summarizes the reading. Guidelines are available here.

Due Monday, Oct 8

Analysis assignment

Next, attempt your own hypermetrical analysis of Clara Schumann, “Sie liebten sich beide.”

[gview file=”https://musi611.meganlavengood.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/schumann-sie-liebten-sich-beide.pdf”]


  1. Listen to the song several times while looking at the score and/or a translation of the lyrics.
  2. Next, annotate your score with numbers to indicate your hypermetrical analysis.
    1. Model your annotation on Klorman’s exs. 10 and 12.
    2. You should normally be counting the measures 1 through 4.
    3. When you have less/more than 4 measures in a hypermeasure, clearly indicate where you are hearing a reinterpretation/manipulation.
  3. Write a paragraph that succinctly explains your reinterpretations/manipulations. Use the vocabulary from  in your explanation.


  • You will be assessed on the following concepts:
    • Identification of typical 4-measure hypermeasures
    • Identification of reinterpretations/manipulations
    • Written explanation of reinterpretations/manipulations
    • Use of tonal rhythm vocabulary
  • You will be given detailed feedback through the rubric. Click “View rubric” in the gradebook to access this.
  • Assignments are always graded pass/fail, with a threshold of 70% to pass.


  • You should submit both your score and your paragraph.
  • Submit your assignment on Blackboard.
  • Upload your assignment as a .pdf attachment. Please do not use other file types.

Due Wednesday, Oct 10

Reflection post

Carl Schachter, one of the theorists that Klorman mentions in his essay, primarily taught music theory to performers, and was an excellent pianist himself; he was always very attuned to performance implications in music theory, and hypermetrical theory was no exception.

Consider this excerpt :

Expansions can result from many different causes. For instance, in the Spring Sonata, fourth movement, it is definitely the deceptive cadence in measure 15 that gives us the feeling that two additional measures have been inserted into a phrase that we’ve already heard in its eight-measure antecedent version. It’s the digression toward D minor that adds the two extra measures. Instead of calling the added two measures an insertion, we can say that they’re parenthetical, as though that deceptive cadence and the elements surrounding it are enclosed within brackets, and that there is a larger continuity available if you skip over those two measures.

The first 18 measures of the fourth movement of Beethoven’s “Spring” Sonata — click to enlarge

These are things for performers especially to ponder. If you have, say, two extra measures, that will disturb the hypermeter without destroying it altogether. What the performer has to ask herself is, “Do I go on playing in strict time”—which might very well be the proper or desirable course—“or should I use some kind of freedom to reflect that it belongs, in a certain way, in a different universe of discourse from the rest of the phrase? And if I do want to make some difference, what should that difference be?” It would seem to me in the case of the Spring Sonata finale, if you do want to make a difference, you might want to slow down a little bit, particularly in the left-hand part, going from the C# to the D (mm. 15-16), and then when things are back on their proper course, to go in strict time.

Write a 500-word reflection on how a hypermetrical analysis might inform a performance of a piece. I encourage you to draw on repertoire you are currently performing.


      • Go to Blackboard and navigate to Reflection Journals (on the sidebar).
      • Click the appropriate link for this week.
      • Click “Create journal entry” and paste your text directly into the text box, rather than uploading an attachment.


If articles are not available online, you should be able to find them in the Readings folder.

Schachter, Carl. 2016. The Art of Tonal Analysis: Twelve Lessons in Schenkerian Theory. Edited by Joseph N. Straus. New York: Oxford University Press.