John Roeder, "Pulse Streams and Problems of Grouping and Metrical Dissonance in Bartók's 'With Drums and Pipes,'" Music Theory Online 7.1 (2001)   Sidebar  

Phenomenal Accent

The term "phenomenal accent" is taken from Lerdahl and Jackendoff (1983: 17). It arises at timepoints of marked change in any of the perceived properties of sound--duration, loudness, timbre, and pitch. Here are a few examples, taken from the music under consideration.

A timepoint is relatively accented if it initiates a long duration following short durations in a voice, such as the second eighth-beat of m. 30:

(Example IV.1)

A timepoint may also take accent due to sudden increase in loudness (such as on the first beat of m. 23):

(Example IV.2)

or in registral density (such as the four-pitch cluster in m. 32):

(Example IV.3)

or due to a sudden change of register in a voice (such as the left-hand dyad on the down-beat of m. 26):

(Example IV.4)

A peak in the melodic contour may also produce some accent, as on the onset of A4 in m. 29:

(Example IV.5)

Of course, more than one factor may combine to create accent, for example on the downbeat of m. 25, which is accented by loudness, registral density, and contour:

(Example IV.6)