Dissertation Index

Author: Kinne, Jesse

Title: Tresillo Rhythms as Groove Schemata

Institution: University of Cincinnati

Begun: October 2016

Completed: July 2023


This dissertation presents an analytical theory of musical groove as layered rhythmic schemata, and proposes archetypes based on a new taxonomy of tresillo rhythms. The scholarly origins of both groove and tresillos are traced back to ethnomusicology. Embracing the dual nature of groove established across disciplines as simultaneously musical structure and experience, the dissertation defines groove as the rhythmic gestalt which impels our body to motion. The analytical apparatus is generalized with respect to repertoire and rhythmic schemata, but the dissertation emphasizes rock music and the tresillo family of rhythms. A perceptually-bounded taxonomy is proposed for tresillos, which unfold a 3:2 temporal conflict constrained by pure duple metrical cycles. The fundamental theoretical contributions are to contextualize musical rhythm by discerning an irreducible counterpoint between the prevailing musical meter and the temporal structures implied by the rhythms themselves, and to put forward methods for discerning said structures from musical surfaces.

The two cornerstones of the analytical framework are the Grooveline and the NonGroove Accent (NGA). Groovelines are middleground rhythmic schemata which emerge from cyclical layers of the musical texture, and enter into structural counterpoint with the prevailing meter, producing a total groove which contextualizes rhythmic activity. A rhythmic event’s relative consonance and dissonance is thus framed according to alignment with both the meter and grooveline(s). Groovelines are identified via contextual associations and gestalt well-formedness principles. Loosely inspired by tonal NonChord Tones (NCTs), NonGroove Accents (NGAs) are those which participate in constituting the structure of a given grooveline, yet are subordinated by the process of multiple groovelines competing for perceptual efficacy.

Guided by perceptual constraints on metrical entrainment, tresillo rhythms are taxonomized according to their depth and order, respectively corresponding to the number of recursively embedded metrical levels simultaneously unfolding a tresillo stream, and the metrical level providing the unit pulses from which it forms. Tresillos are further characterized according to a variety of features, and NGAs are used to parse varied musical surfaces in terms of structural vs. embellishing accents. Tresillos are immanently efficacious as groovelines due to their property of maximal evenness, and ubiquity in many repertoires. Although groovelines are not restricted so, an initial catalogue of grooveline schemata based on tresillos is proposed, including The Backbeat Tresillo, Syncopated Double Tresillos, and Hybrid Triple Tresillos.

The broad efficacy of schematic groove analysis is demonstrated through case studies which engage non-musical rhythmic layers in multimedia; complex musical improvisation not merely over, but within, the cyclic riffs themselves of an established groove; the extension of tresillo patterns beyond the boundaries of metrical entrainment affordances; and suitable locations for the inclusion of this material within otherwise relatively traditional undergraduate music major core music theory curricula. Additional applications could include the clarification of musical ontology for the purposes of copyright law, guiding the development of test stimuli for music cognition studies, and adaptation into the analysis of other musical idioms. Finally, the aesthetic nature of popular music is analytically revealed as being optimized to facilitate maximally expressive socio-musical discourse.

Keywords: Groove, Popular Music, Rhythm and Meter, Tresillo


Table of Contents

Introduction: Questions to Riff On

Chapter 1 || Groove Theory

1.1.0 - Defining Groove
1.1.1 - Recent Groove Summary
1.1.2 - Complementary Narrative
1.1.3 - My Own Definition

1.2.0 - Groove Analysis
1.2.1 - Pitch-Time Analogy
1.2.2 - Groovelines
1.2.3 - Groove Counterpoint

Chapter 2 || Tresillo Theory

2.1.0 - Metrical Model
2.1.1 - Perceptual Limitations
2.1.2 - Representing Entrainment
2.1.3 - Metrical Summary

2.2.0 - Tresillo Taxonomy
2.2.1 - Generating Tresillos
2.2.2 - The Tresillo Principle
2.2.3 - The Tresillo Family
2.2.4 - Higher Order Tresillos & Metrical Bands
2.2.5 - Tresillo Depth as Recursivity
2.2.6 - Further Applications of Metrical Bands
2.2.7 - Tresillo Groovelines & Tempo
2.2.8 - Maximal Evenness & Rotation
2.2.9 - Non-paradigmatic Tresillos
2.2.10 - Analytical Orthography
2.2.11 - Tresillo Summary

2.3.0 - A Conceptual History of the Tresillo
2.3.1 - Ethnomusicological Origins
2.3.2 - A New Paradigm Emerges: Hastian Projection
2.3.3 - Narrative Summary Conclusion

Chapter 3 || Tresillo Groovelines

3.1.0 - Discerning Tresillos in Context
3.1.1 - Metatheory
3.1.2 - Tonal Analogies
3.1.3 - Projective Resonance
3.1.4 - Tresillo Rubric
3.1.5 - Cinquillo Rubric
3.1.6 - 3-Stream Locks & Switches

3.2.0 - The Backbeat Tresillo
3.2.1 - Backbeat Meter
3.2.2 - Paradigmatic BBT
3.2.3 - Call & Response BBTs
3.2.4 - Recursive BBTs

3.3.0 - Syncopated Double Tresillos
3.3.1 - Metrically Consonant DT Rotations
3.3.2 - Stable DTs in Repertoire
3.3.3 - Syncopated DTs
3.3.4 - Complicating Factors

3.4.0 - Hybrid Triple Tresillos
3.4.1 - Stables TTs in Repertoire
3.4.2 - Simple Hybrids
3.4.3 - Complex Hybrids

Chapter 4 || Case Studies, Applications, Extensions

4.1.0 - Groove Mediating Temporality in Media
4.1.1 - Multimodal Counterpoint
4.1.2 - Immersive Groove Space in Heroes of Might and Magic
4.1.3 - Groovy Friends and Metrical Foes in Samurai Champloo

4.2.0 - Parsing a Complex Groove: DMB “Stay (Wasting Time)”
4.2.1 - Issues of Musical Ontology
4.2.2 - Technical Analysis of Verse Groove Prototype
4.2.3 - Unlocked Pursuits and Ponders

4.3.0 - Entraining Extended Tresillos
4.3.1 - Properties of Extended Tresillos
4.3.2 - Chunking ETs as DT Cycles
4.3.3 - Extended Tresillos in Practice
4.3.4 - The Tresillo Meter Hypothesis

Conclusion: Curricular Integration



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