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Both historical and recent theories of meter have tended to assume that meter is a single phenomenon, definable in a single (though perhaps complex) way. Most U.S. theories of meter have been based on a limited repertoire: instrumental music by German composers. Examination of Verdi's mid-century operas, from Macbeth through La traviata (1846–53), suggests that different theoretical approaches may be appropriate for different repertoires. National traditions of composition, depending often on national poetic traditions, may require different ways of hearing and counting, and thus different ways of modeling meter. The metrical theories of Fred Lerdahl and Ray Jackendoff, David Temperley, and Christopher Hasty are found to have a German bias. Adjustments in theoretical assumptions, expressed as preference rules, are suggested to deal with Italian music of the mid-19th century and earlier.



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