Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Expanded Meter and Hemiola in Baden Powell's Samba-Jazz
by Guerra, Stephen Paul, Ph.D., Yale University, 2018, 285; 10957326
Abstract (Summary)

Afro-Brazilian guitarist-composer Baden Powell de Aquino (1937-2000), one of Brazil's earliest and most successful international musicians, is renowned for his inexplicable rhythmic style. This is especially true in the context of instrumental samba, or samba-jazz, which emerged in the late-night music clubs of 1950s-60s Rio de Janeiro. Samba-jazz engages a set of normative expectations: (1) a theme-and-variations performance involving a (2) cyclic scheme of regular and even chord changes comprising (3) a form of often 16 or 32 bars traditionally conceived of as being in duple meter (e.g. 2/4), where (4) improvised variations track the chord changes of the form. Against this recursively even, duple-meter background, Baden's chord-melodic improvisations frequently foreground dotted or asymmetrical rhythms that, in their interaction with the duple frame, suggest uneven periodicities. This study argues that such uneven regularities can, under certain conditions, be defined as metric and as such can be treated as participating in generalized hemiolas of the background form's meter. This two-fold expansion of meter and hemiola leads to the discovery of a much larger and more variegated abstract space constituted by the even and uneven metric possibilities for a given span of musical time.

This dissertation consists in two complementary projects. The theoretical project expands current theories of meter, hemiola, and metric space, as most recently defined by Richard Cohn (2018), to incorporate Justin London's (2012) theory of non-isochronous meters. The analytical project explores the richness of Baden's rhythmic art–it's metric implications and relationship to tropes of samba-jazz.

Through an exploratory analysis of "É de lei," Chapter 1 shows why we should and how we can expand current meter theory, while introducing the reader to Baden Powell and his musical context of Brazilian samba and samba-jazz. Chapter 2 is a formal exposition of the expanded theory of meter, hemiola, and metric space. Using the language and representations of mathematical set and graph theories, it builds analogous (to Cohn 2001) analytical models of hemiola and metric space from the ground up upon an expanded and revised definition of meter that allows for both isochrony and well-formed non-isochrony. Through a series of shorter examples, including passages from "Tristeza," "A lenda do Abaeté," and "Canto de Xangô," Chapter 3 defines, contextualizes, and analyzes four of the most prevalent rhythmic tropes of samba-jazz, while building some basic familiarity with the method of the analytical model. Chapter 4 considers larger examples organized around the idea of harmonic quantization, including extended improvisations from "Samba triste," "Conversa de poeta," and "O barquinho." It seeks to understand the metric implications of how Baden in theme-and-variations form can simultaneously support the 2/4 bar-to-bar chord changes required by the harmonic form of the theme while soloing with long extensions of dotted chord-melodies. Chapters 3 and 4 gradually increase the tempo and scope of analysis–from a few bars to entire form variations. Chapter 5 analyzes an entire recording, the afro-samba "Candomblé," principally asking how metric change and hemiola influence our perception of musical form, especially in the absence of more traditional form-defining parameters.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Cohn, Richard
Commitee:
School: Yale University
School Location: United States -- Connecticut
Source: DAI-A 79/12(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Music theory, Music, Latin American Studies
Keywords: African Diaspora, Brazil, Metric Space, Non-Isochronous, Popular Music, Timeline
Publication Number: 10957326
ISBN: 9780438273719
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