Annotation for Berry, Wallace
Structural Functions in Music
Annotation (by James Halliday):
- Structural Functions in Music is divided into three sections.
The first two sections deal with tonality and texture, respectively.
The third section is concerned with rhythm. Berry views rhythm in very
broad terms - as a combination of every other musical element as they
are presented in time. Meter is but one aspect of rhythm, although
Berry spends most of his time discussing meter primarily. Meter is
defined as "accent-delineated grouping," or grouping as determined by
accent, which itself is determined by a number of musical criteria.
Inherent in Berry's theory is the idea of hierarchical levels of metric
structure. Within any level, a metric grouping consists of several
elements, represented by directional arrows: an initiative impulse
which begins the thrust of metric energy (a downbeat), a reactive
impulse which dissipates this energy, a conclusive impulse which brings
closure to the unit, and an optional anticipative impulse, which leads
towards an initiative impulse (an upbeat). A
conclusive impulse is viewed as metrically weak; thus cadences and other
ending gestures are viewed as weak, unless elided to the following
metric unit. These impulse gestures occur at many levels, all the way
to the level of entire works. Berry frequently ignores the notated bar-lines in determining rhythmic grouping. His analyses frequently reflect ambiguity as an integral structural element of a work. Thus passages can be said to involve metric dissonance
, which is later resolved, in analogy to har
monic dissonance and resolution. In this work, Berry outlines rhythm in
broad terms before discussing specific aspects of his metric theory.
His examples span the entire range of Western music, from very early to
contemporary music. Also see
and Rhythmic Articulation in Music" (Berry 1985) for further