Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





William Rothstein

Committee Members

Stephen Blum

L. Poundie Burstein

Frank Samarotto

Subject Categories

Music Theory


Rhythm, Meter, Weight, Dissonance, Entrainment, Projection


The core argument of the dissertation emerges as a synthesis of ideas introduced in the first four chapters. Resonances with recent metrical theories are explored in chapter 1. Chapter 2 problematizes modern and historical theories through a phenomenological examination of meter and phenomenal accent in a few baroque sarabandes. Meter in these pieces is shown to involve entrainment to both a beat hierarchy and a recurrent weight profile, clarifying that metrical dissonance is fundamentally an expressive category, not a phenomenal category. Chapters 3 and 4 articulate a theory of weight, reviewing and refining phenomenal-accent theory, developing a notion of musical mass, and offering a simple preference-rule system for the comparison of weight between musical moments. Chapter 5 synthesizes the arguments of chapters 2–4, positing a general theory of metrical experience situated on a spectrum of perceived rhythmic consistency. I argue that a listener’s metrical attitude necessarily involves entrainment to or projection of both beat hierarchy and weight profile. The notion of dual entrainment developed in chapter 2 is thus supplemented by single entrainment and dual projection, all of which are categories of dual-aspect meter. The theory’s analytical and hermeneutic utility is demonstrated through a combined metrical and narrative analysis in appendix 1.

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Music Theory Commons