Dissertation Index

Author: Russell, Todd B.

Title: Rhythm in Music: A Comparative Analysis of the Two Versions of Opus 18, No. 1 String Quartet (I, IV) by Beethoven

Institution: University of Kentucky

Begun: April 1990

Completed: July 1993


This document provides a comparative rhythmic analysis of the first and fourth movements of the two versions of the Opus 18, No.1 string quartet (FM) by Ludwig van Beethoven. The analysis compares the rhythmic- and metric-accent structures of various sections of the two versions. The impact of changes affecting the rhythmic structure of the unpublished (first) version are discussed. Additionally, theories of rhythm are reviewed. A new theory of metric structure of tonal music is proposed and is applied in particular to the metric structure of the bar-form melody.

The study presents the argument that meter is generated by the repetition of rhythmic structures, which are made up of accent points of varying degrees of strength (rhythmic accents). It is argued that the listener perceives meter by associating specific events with the two types of metric accent: downbeat and upbeat. Consequently, equal spacing between metric accents is not a requirement for the generation nor the perception of meter.

The study also presents the view that many of the changes Beethoven made to the first version of Opus 18, No. 1 specifically addressed rhythmic structure. The published version was therefore much improved in terms of its enunciation of rhythmic nuances in the language of music.

Chapter One is an introductory chapter, stating the purpose of the study. Chapter Two presents the theories of rhythm applicable to the comparative analysis. Chapter Three presents the symbologies used to illustrate rhythmic- and metric-accent structures in the excerpts analyzed. Chapters Four and Five present the analyses of movements one and four of the string quartet, respectively. Chapter Six summarizes the findings of the dissertation.

Keywords: Rhythm, meter, phrase, beat, suspension, Beethoven


1. Introduction
2. Rhythmic Structure of Tonal Music
3. Symbology
4. Rhythmic Analysis: First Movement
5. Rhythmic Analysis: Fourth Movement
6. Conclusions


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