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1 What is ‘groove’?

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Chapter Summary

A musician would be aware of the concept of 'groove-based music', music whose rhythmic component is its primary meaningful element, more important than, say, its melody or harmony. The concept of participatory discrepancies and Charles Keil's advocating of a science of groovology has led to research on the part of other scholars, usually ethnomusicologists, to find and measure the discrepancies. Most Western music, arguably most music anywhere in the world, is organised around a regularly occurring beat, an isochronous pulse. The most fruitful way of conceiving meter in groove music, and possibly more generally too, is as a series of levels running from sub-beats through beats, bars, and phrases to larger-scale sections. The back-beat at the main metrical level forms a kind of skeleton of the groove, the minimum of metric information required to make sense of a melody in groove music.

Keywords: back-beat; Charles Keil; groove music; isochronous pulse; Western music

10.1163/9789004242944_003
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