John Roeder, "Pulse Streams and Problems of Grouping and Metrical Dissonance in Bartók's 'With Drums and Pipes,'" Music Theory Online 7.1 (2001) << Sect. 2a Section 2b Sect. 2c >>
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[2] Analysis of Grouping and "Metrical Dissonance" (continued)

[2.5] Because the hands tend to change motivic material at about the same time, a succession of contrasting blocks or segments arises, principally through such changes in motivic materials, supported by changes in dynamics and register. Although I will refer to timespans by measure numbers, the block divisions do not always appear on the notated downbeat, as the following discussion will explain. There are eight blocks in all. Each is discussed below, with special focus on some readily apparent aspects of grouping and "metrical dissonance."

[2.6] First Block (Example II.2) [click here for suggestions if the movie does not appear or play correctly]

The parallelism between the beginnings of mm. 22 and 24 suggests the organization of mm 22-25 as a four-measure block, divided into two groups each lasting a whole note. The hands alternate within each measure and on the notated downbeats within each group. At first there is a durational canon between hands, at the distance of a half note, as the duration series in the right hand in mm. 22-23 is imitated by the left hand in mm. 23-24. The canon is indicated by brackets in Example II.2. In the second whole-note group, there is another canon, with the distance of imitation diminished to a quarter note, that spills into the beginning of the next block. These canons, and the irregular way the left-hand shifts octaves, and the dynamic, durational and textural emphasis given to the right-hand downbeats in mm. 23 and 25 work against the ostensible grouping regularity.

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