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. 5d Section 6a Sect. 6b >>
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[6] Analysis of mm. 30-43

[6.1] Figures 3-5 present pulse-stream analyses of the remainder of Figure 1. In the following sections I will briefly discuss how pulse streams are created both within the two hands/voices and between them, and how the streams function formally to create both contrast between successive blocks of material and rhythmic continuity.

[6.2] Figure 3 analyzes mm. 30-43, including the third and fourth blocks of material and the beginning of the fifth. Recall that in the third block, mm. 30-37, the two hands are in a near-canon, placing their durational accents a half-note apart. The analysis treats these accents, as in the first block, as the result of two whole-note streams of varying strength. Stream 8, which was evident in Figure 2, includes (among others) the right-hand accents, and it persists until the fifth block is well underway. The other whole-note stream, 9, includes the left-hand accents of inter-onset duration on the last events of each leg in the sequence; it is sustained only in the third block, that is, the lack of accent to sustain it in m. 37 helps prepare for the change of material in m. 38.

[6.3] Although within each voice the accents give rise to distinct pulse streams, they are also coordinated between the hands to maintain weakly the dotted-half stream 4 that was initiated in the second block (mm. 26-29 on Figure 2). The purpose of maintaining this stream becomes evident at the onset of the fourth block, on the downbeat of m. 38. The attack of the loud clusters there coincides with stream 4, maintaining a rhythmic continuity across the abrupt change of loudness, register, and motivic material. Stream 4 even persists into the next block (beginning at m. 41), sustained by the reiteration of durationally accented tenuto ninths in the left hand a dotted-half apart. Like stream 8, then, it is an agent of continuity.

[6.4] In the following audio presentation (Example VI.1) of Figure 3, stream 4 is doubled by a whistle, while whole-note streams 8 and 9 are doubled by differently pitched cymbals. As was the case in Figure 2, regarding the changing ensemble of pulse streams across Figure 3, we see that each new block of material is characterized by a different ensemble.

(Example VI.1) [click here for suggestions if the movie does not appear or play correctly]


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