Music Theory
Acoustic Composition
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Is meter universal?

In a sense, the only answer to this is a resounding yes. Wherever music happens there is rhythm and wherever rhythm happens there is a perceived meter. Listeners are active participants in music and their perceptions shape the way music is transmitted to the audience.

Now, you might find yourself thinking, “Didn’t we learn in the first module that there are pieces without meter?”

The answer to that is also yes. Composers have written pieces without a notated meter, but the perceived meter is still present. The opposite affect, where composers use notated meter to obscure the perceived meter, has also been attempted; however, much of that music is beyond our current scope of study.

To better understand how meter applies across different musical traditions we will be looking at the music of Bali and how it influenced the French Impressionist composer Claude Debussy.